TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SALMANI –
The Al Ardha camel show was held on Saturday at Al Jarda, a village in the Wilayat of Al Mudhaibi, as part of the annual camel event. Around 200 participants from various wilayats participated in the event.
Hundreds of people also came to watch the exceptional show, which was organised by locals in an effort to preserve Omani heritage. The event commenced at 7 am by a nimble march of camels. The camel show was divided into 20 rounds. Each round saw a batch of two participants covering a distance of 800 metres.
On Al Ardha day, people gather around the race course to watch shows by camel riders that reflect Omani people’s skill in dealing with the animal. Traditional arts (such as the recitation of poems) also accompanied the demonstrations. Al Ardha started with a display of traditional acts, such as camels lying down, riding standing up, joining hands with another rider at great speed and other similar actions.
While the event was going on, Omani coffee, soft drinks and local fruits such as fresh date were offered freely to the audiences as part of traditional hospitality.
“Our main objective is to encourage the new generation to learn about this traditional show and to enhance relations between members of community,” the organiser told the Observer.
The participants must be well prepared at least one night before the event starts. They transfer their camels by trucks and 4WD and camp nearby to the event venue. During that night, the organisers prepare Omani food and host the participants for a dinner feast. During the dinner, which proceeds the show day, a poetic debate is organised among the participants. Poetic debate involves poems about patriotism and loyalty.
It is worth mentioning that horse and camel Ardha is experienced across the Sultanate. Al Ardha is associated with many social occasions in the Omani society, such as religious and national celebrations. The practice is an integral part of the society’s culture in rural and urban areas and reflects great skill as well as people’s devotion to the care of animals. This unique Omani art is added by the UNESCO to its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.