Mansouri’s success in camel contests began with one camel

Pride and heritage

As I entered the manor of Mubarak Saif Al-Shadiye Al Mansouri in the vicinity of Mazayna Camel arena of Al Dhafra Festival, I was gobsmacked by the number of covers he won from Mazayna camel contests adorning his Emirati tent.
“There are over 20 covers that are hung across the tent,” says Mansouri as he welcomed us to his manor with dates and camel milk.
Mansouri’s story with Mazayna began in the summer of 2008 when he bought one camel with a decent price.
“My first participation in a camel competition was in 2008 in Qatar where my camel came first,” said the 33-year old Emirati.
He then took part in Mazayna Al Dhafra in Madinat Zayed, the Western Region with the same camel and won a car. Sweihan Camel Festival was his next stop where he won a car again.
Following this modest success, Mubarak decided to take the camel beauty contests seriously, prompting him to increase the number of camels to twelve Asayel.
In the meantime, the prices of camels have soared as more people from across the Gulf Cooperation Council were taking part in the competitions. Lucrative but costly
Mansouri recalls bought a camel for AED 1.2 million one month ago and another for AED 1.5 million last April which he sold to Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President’s Representative, for AED 3.5 million, making a staggering AED2 million profit behind it.
He won a car and prize money at this year’s Al Dhafra Festival while his friends who share the farm with him won three others.
Overall, Mansouri has won ten cars in Al Dhafra festivals since 2010 and 35 cars in all his participations in various Mazayna camel competitions.
However, Mazayna camels are high maintenance, according to Mansouri.
The camels are transported in trucks and pick-ups because Asayel are used to running in the desert unlike Majahim.
“The cost of looking after Mazayna camels is five times the race camels’ because they need more food,” he stressed.
Mazayna camels are spoiled. They are washed with shampoo, eat dates and fish oil, drink honey, milk and the list goes on.
The average monthly expenses per camel are 2,500 to AED 3,000. However, the costs dramatically soar if they are taken to another country.
“The monthly cost of looking after a single Mazayna camel can go up to AED 20,000 if we transport them to another country and rent a manor there,” he said, citing the example of a 10-day rent that can cost between 50,000 and AED 60,000 in Qatar. Winning camels smell saffron
Every winning Mazayna camel has their head and neck rubbed with saffron liquid during the Festival as their owners celebrate the win in a folklore atmosphere full of rhymes and joy.
“The first three winning camels are being honoured with a liquid based on saffron and rose water. It is a tradition that goes back to our forefathers,” recalled Mansouri.
The winning camels see their value instantly skyrocket, reaching millions of dirhams. Preserving heritage and authenticity
UAE sheikhs have shown a great support to all camel festivals held in the country in in order to preserve Emiratis’ precious heritage.
Mansouri brought his two kids Saif and Suheel, who are on a school break, to Al Dhafra in order to get them used to UAE’s bedouin culture, heritage and authenticity.
“My kids have long days at school. I have to bring them with me during their school breaks in order to instill their forefathers’ heritage in them,” he said while Arabian coffee and Khalas dates were being offered to us in a hospitable environment.
“They are enjoying the atmosphere in Al Dhafra and are learning a great deal about the camels,” he added.
Saif named two camels Wasfah and Reemah which was recently bought for AED 1.2 million and is challenging other children in the Festival about Reemah’s winning potential.
Al Dhafra Festival, which is organised by the Cultural Programs and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, is held between December 14 and 28 in Madinat Zayed in the Western Region.
Mansouri, who was the chairman of the Organising Committee of the second edition of Al-Nokhba Mazayna Camel Festival, will head on February to Sweihan Camel Festival which features the traditional camel races and camel beauty contests.