The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Let's cheer ourselves up with some more camels.

Many of you were so taken with the earlier photo, that I've included some more.

The camel has been a resident of the Arabian Peninsula since time immemorial. In India, you'll only ever see camels working, and working hard, pulling laden carts that are as big as a house. However Saudi camels, naturally, do not work. Some of them we eat - a tough meat, quite tasty, but needs to be well marinaded. But mainly, we keep them for our own amusement. The fast ones get to race, the other ones are just pets.

Pets? But surely they don't stretch out at home in front of the fire? Indeed not, because of course we don't have fires, just industrial-strength a/c. No, we keep them in an enclosure. To the north-east of Riyadh there is a huge area, perhaps 4-5 kilometers square, that is just camel enclosures. It's called the "Camel Souk", or Camel Market. But it's not just a market, It's a vast suburb for camels. And that's where we keep them, looked after by typically a Sudani "keeper".

And then we go out there at evenings and weekends to spend quality time with our camel, to talk camels, drink coffee, gossip, and generally hang out. It's a Man Thing, naturally.

The Bedus are the main breeders of camels. Their herds wander all over the desert.

....and where there is a highway, we build a bridge so they can cross over.

I like camels. They have a look that says "I was here before you, and I'll be here when you're gone. But in the meantime I'll tolerate you, because your strange antics amuse me."

(Note that this Bedu's number plate has bleached in the sun - evidence of how vigilant the "shawarma warriors" are.)

I once suggested to Mrs A that I liked the idea of keeping a camel out at the Souk. She said "That's alright, if you'd rather spend your spare time out there with your camel and other men, rather than here at home with me and your family." Ouch. There's no answer to that.

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