Whilst at the women’s day function with best friend Mr. F, brother Faris informed me that he would be visiting the camel souq with Paul and Mo on Friday afternoon immediately after the midday prayers. As mom had just arrived in the Kingdom a few days ago I thought that it would be an excellent opportunity for mom to experience Saudi culture first hand.
Brother Faris agreed to mom and I hopping along with them. Immediately after the midday prayers on Friday, Mom and I made our way to the bus stop. Brother Faris was on time to pick us up and we made our way happily to the camel souq.The souq is located on the Dammam Road, heading east out of Riyadh.A huge area of around five kilometers square is home to the largest collection of camels in the Middle East and is a market that has probably stood the test of time with very little changes over the last few hundred years.
As soon as we arrived at the souq, we instantly fell in love with the baby camels. The souq is guaranteed to bring out the ‘aaaahhh’ factor in almost anyone.Brother Faris frequents the camel souq quite often and hence he was well acquainted with many of the camel owners. There was a group of Saudi gentlemen who reside in the city but visit the souq on a weekly basis to spend time with their camels. They invited us to join their gathering. They offered us Arabic coffee (qahwa) and dates. One of the gentleman asked his Bangladeshi employee to milk one of the female camels. He wanted us to taste camel milk and then went on to explain the benefits of camel milk.Camel milk is supposedly more nutritious than cow milk. According to the Huffington Post, camel milk has been utilized medicinally for centuries by nomadic people. It is apparently the closest to a human mother’s milk and contains 10 times more iron and three times more vitamin C than cow’s milk. At the beginning of 2011, a group of Arab researchers announced that they have made a scientific breakthrough by developing a medical formula for treating cancer using camel’s milk and urine. I was quite surprised that camel milk is quite frothy and thick. From a distance it looks like thick fresh cream. If you ever travel through the desert and pass by Bedouin people,make sure you do try the camel milk that they will offer you. Camel milk is also available in most Saudi supermarkets.Most camels within the Kingdom are female. They are reared for their milk in dairy herds.The male camel is usually reared for camel racing and those that are not strong enough to race any more are usually culled. Many camels found at the enclosures within the souq are also kept as pets by Saudis.The normal life span of a camel is 40 years, though a working camel retires from active duty at 25.
How do I get to the camel souq?
Continue along the Dammam Road for approximately 10 kms, whence you will see endless camel enclosures on your left. Come off at the next exit, following signs for Thumamah, and the camel souq is on the left hand side of the road.