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]
Because of our tight time table, we were only able to sit for one documentary in the Alajzeeara documentary festival. The one we saw was a Radio Canada production entitled: Maher Arar, detailing the story of a Canadian/Syrian citizen who was arrested and deported to Syira on suspicion of belonging to al-Qaeda. Unfortunatley the film was absolutely crap. Technically, it was very poor and the content was sensationalist, unbalanced and lacked any real deep research. I hated it!
Nevertheless, the outing itself had a wonderful upside, as we were sitting one row in front of famous Egyptian actor Nour Al Sharif. I got really excited when I saw him sitting right behind us so I jumped up from my seat and asked if I could take a picture with him. He was very sweet and extremely down-to-earth. We even shared the same popcorn while waiting for the movie to start. I think I should write this down: I munched on popcorn with Nour al-Sharif. Here is a picture taken via Amal and her Nokia mobile.
Aljazeera’s documentary film festival might be one of the most exciting things that happens in Doha. Documentaries from across the world are being shown here and it is all gratis. Instead of making sure to watch every single one of them, I’m home blogging about the event from far way.
Life has been very hectic lately for us, for reasons that I will explain in a future post. Time is not on our side. We are struggling to finish a very long list of things to do before the end of this month, which will mark the end of our Doha stint here. I will reveal more details in an upcoming post, I promise.
I found this in the Gulf Times today:
Heavy penalties are expected to be imposed on the violators of the new law prohibiting the use of child jockeys in camel races, said Dr Ghalia bint Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, member of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The warning is intended to deter any possible offences at "private" races. Dr Ghalia told reporters yesterday that the new regulation banning child jockeys had stemmed out of Qatar’s respect to the children’s basic rights, saying that she played a role in drafting the law, putting an end to the use of child jockeys in Qatar.
I guess this explains why the officials at the camel race freaked out when we took pictures of the jockeys last week.
Our good friend Amal is leaving Doha for good next week and relocating home to Beirut, Lebanon. We are very happy for her as it is a great career move. Not only will she be in her own country
Here is a picture that the husband took last week of Amal and myself enjoying the sea along a beach in Dukhhan, Qatar.