The risk of serious injury, disability and death is shockingly high among child jockeys in camel races in Gulf countries, a report shows. Researchers in Qatar looked at 275 boys, many younger than nine and some as young as five, treated for camel racing injuries at a local hospital. Seventeen of the boys treated between 1992-’03 were left with permanent disabilities and 3 died.
This disturbing report struck a chord in me, as last year I got a chance to meet the young jockeys in Doha and converse with them. I’m glad a number of Gulf countries made the decision to ban the use of camel jockeys for good, replacing them with robots. The question now is: Will camel racing still attract as many enthusiasts when child jockey are no longer a part of it? [All images from that trip enlarge on click]