Camel Souk

This post is going to contain mostly photos and videos as I had a hard time editing them. I find the camels hilarious and loved almost every photo and vid that I took. Many of the vids are pretty short and worth taking a minute to watch if you want a few laughs. Please let me know if they don’t work. I have heard occasionally that they don’t play. There is an alternate way to upload them, but you lose the sound. The sounds in some of these are a large part of what make them so funny.
Some background, my group of friends has gotten hooked up with an incredible Saudi man named Farris who does trips for us.  He will take us pretty much anywhere that we want to go and he is both knowledgeable about much of Saudi culture and has great connections. We went to the Camel Souk a few weeks ago with him as our fearless leader.  This is a large market just outside of Riyadh and is mostly Saudi’s and all men.  There are some people of other ethnicities but not many. We got to learn about camels and have a ride on one.
Some fun facts:
1) Only one-humpers (dromedary) are native to Saudi. There is one place in Saudi with two-humpers (Bactrian) but they were imported by a rich guy
2) Saudi has white, black, red and brown camels
3) The white and black are called by the arabic words for white and black. The other colors are just called camels
4) The white ones are usually the most prized with long eyelashes being a key feature in the value of them
5) A single camel (usually a bull) can sell for a million riyals (approx $266,666 USD!)
6) People drink the milk and eat the meat, in addition to using them for transportation of humans and loads and the hair is often used for weaving textiles.
7) Camels are very friendly and curious, not at all skittish.
8) They make the strangest noise I think I have heard an animal make. Sounds as if they are dying
9) The herds are primarily females with one or two males. The males are kept separately and the lead female is usually hobbled or tied up. The others won’t leave if she doesn’t.
Due to the connections of our guide, we were invited to take Arabic coffee and dates with some of the shepherds and then he was able to work out an opportunity for us to ride the camels. When we first asked if we could ride them, he made the funniest face and said something to the effect of us causing a scene. This was due to the fact that half of our group was female. He ended up negotiating with three men from Afghanistan to ride their camels a ways away from the souk. We took the bus and met them out there in the middle of nowhere and then we had the opportunity to ride in peace.
Watch how the lips move when they chew
The shepherds move the camels with just a little stick.
The getting up and down part was not very graceful
Much smoother once you got going and actually very comfortable. The “saddles” are more like cushioned seats with backrests
Some of my friends riding ahead of me
Oh, the noises and the faces. I laugh every time I watch this one!
Yes, they really are this goofy looking!
IMG_5354 - Copy
This kid is one of the shepherds, he didn’t speak English but he clearly loved interacting with us.  Here he is putting his sunnies on the camel.


Who clearly was also interested in showing off!


IMG_5362 - Copy
He moved his head quite a bit and kept them on the whole time.
I didn’t snap this all very fast. He was posing for a while. The kid finally had to pull on his neck to get him to bring his head down so he could get his shades back!
Coffee and dates with a shepherd
These are black camels. Fairly expensive


The babies are kept under shelter from the sun


Two babies under cover. Take note of the guy on the left, he is nosy, you will see him again in the next photo.


This is that guy’s little head poking out of the shelter
A bull. These guys are HUGE! They are kept separate from females and from each other. Additionally, their front legs are hobbled to keep them from going anywhere.
Not the best photo but it shows the funny shape of the babies. They are all leg


Another baby shot


The sheer size and strength of the males is incredible!
Funny feet. This is the male with the rope around his front legs
IMG_5395 - Copy
A camel bag. The colors are beautiful


He is making yarn


IMG_5398 - Copy


IMG_5399 - Copy
Different style saddle


IMG_5400 - Copy
Camel accouterments
These were two of the guys that came riding across the desert to meet us so we could ride out of view of the men.
Good view of the saddle, see the backrest? Your behind slots in between the hump and the backrest quite nicely
That white bit is the bottom of her foot! I poked it, it is soft. Makes sense to walk in sand but not what I envisioned.


Funny knees, small and bony, they remind me of my tiny dog!


They make these funny faces a lot
Took a few tries to get a decent shot. She kept making noises and faces at me!
A man and his camel


Legs are too long, makes kneeling awkward
This is after he got his sunglasses back
The living conditions left something to be desired
They are very curious and we had many times where we would stand in front of them to take a picture and, next you know, they are poking the back of your head with their lips! This one just got me!
My friends

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s