Carla Cioffi

Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack
Location: Washington, DC
Nationality: American
Biography: Carla Cioffi is a photographer working across multiple genres. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela to a Sicilian immigrant father and an American mother. Through her mother's lineage, she is a member of the Cherokee Nation. As a... MORE
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Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack
Copyright Carla Cioffi 2023
Date of Work Jan 2015 - Mar 2017
Updated Jul 2017
Topics Animals, Arabian Gulf, Art, Camels, Desert, Documentary, Editorial, Essays, Fine Art, MENA Region, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Qatar, Sport, Street, Travel, Wildlife
Camel races and husbandry at the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack outside of Doha, Qatar
In 2014, I had the opportunity to live and work in Qatar for a year and a half. One of the more fascinating places to visit was the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack. A 45-minute drive from the capital of Doha, this massive complex is a world away.

Camel racing in the Arab world is a centuries-old tradition. Professional camel racing in Qatar started in 1972. Each year 22,000 camels are raced at the Al Shahaniya complex. It is a multi-million dollar venture, which includes a hospital for breeding.

On any given day, one can witness droves of camels and their trainers marching in a slow and elegant cadence from stalls to racetrack, and back again. I was entranced by the endless rhythm of this movement; it was dizzying at times. One had to be very careful as they stopped for no one. While I do not condone the racing of any animal, I was deeply struck by these awkwardly gorgeous creatures, and the men tasked with their training. As with most blue-collar jobs in Qatar, the trainers are brought in from elsewhere.
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Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack by Carla Cioffi
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