Some topics discussed include:
Dr. Raziq Karkar captured the audience’s attention with his personal story of how he went from not being able to walk due to arthritis at a young age, to being completely healed through camel milk in the mountains of Pakistan and how this was his inspiration to become a vet and expert on camel milk. His research in Al Ain has revealed how the desert ecosystem benefits from grazing camels, by distributing seeds and ensuring bio diversity in flora and fauna. He encouraged the audience to seek sources of camel milk, directly from farms or through the supermarkets. Karkar,said: “we are extremely lucky to be in the UAE , which is the only country in the world which has fresh camel milk available on supermarket shelves.”
Dr. Ilse Koehler-Rollefson, who lives in Rajasthan for over 30 years, has published many books on camel health but also camel related products and their dwindling economy, resulting India’s camel populating plummeting from once 1.5 million to just about 200,000 in a very short span of time, a very contrary situation comparing to the UAE. India used to be the listed as the third biggest camel population and is now faced with difficulties maintaining steady numbers. Dr Koehler-Rollefson outlined that a lack of lobby and cultural hurdles limit the sale of camel milk, despite the importance of maintaining camel pastoralism in Rajasthan, due to its desert climate.
Apart from the question of food supply, camels in India were also a key driver for tourism, which poses an additional risk to the fragile local economy, should the numbers decline further.
The speakers were also joined by Stevi Lowmass, the CEO and founder of The Camel Soap Factory (TCSF). Lowmass outlined how she incorporates locally produced camel milk in her products to reduce carbon footprint but also because of the noticeable health benefits to the users of her products. TCSF contributed to the EXPO merchandise line and won Natural Beauty Product of the Year Award. Lowmass also spoke about initial apprehension towards camel milk as an ingredient but users have become loyal customers and ambassadors thanks to the superior quality and results.
The last speaker on the panel was Layla Donders, who travelled more than 2,500 kilometers with a camel caravan. The two journeys lead her from Damascus in Syria to Teheran in Iran and back into the UAE and Oman. She recounted the time of identifying the camels for her journey, back in Syria as a critical time and outlined who the relationship to the animals was the most critical part. She now lives near Muscat in Oman. Her oldest camel is now 28 years old and was part of the long journeys.
The event also showcased artworks from Joanna Patejuk, who has created a mixed media canvas artwork on the ADCRC school camel called Faris, which is now available for sale at Dubai Mall (roomours).
Further, a selection of camel milk chocolate was offered from Al Nassma, as well as fashion inspired by camels from the homegrown label JML.
The event was a true display and celebration of camels in the UAE as well as around the world and how important it is to continue the conversation and learning.
Celebrating camels as a key element of local UAE culture is also in line with the strategic objectives of Dubai Culture. ADCRC aims to support the objective of “safe guarding both tangible and intangible aspects of cultural heritage”.
In addition to the forum and panel discussion, Arabian Desert Camel Riding Center has arranged for a unique movie night at Roxy Cinema City Walk on Tuesday (21st June) as well as an event at the camel riding center, displaying different traditional camel riding gear and offering a camel milk tasting in the evening.
The Arabian Desert Camel Riding Center is the first licensed center to train camel jockeys for races, with an official training license issued by Dubai Camel Racing Club. The center was founded by Obaid bin Subaih al Falasi and Linda Krockenberger in January 2021.
The vision of the school is to be an agent to connect people from all backgrounds to the camel and integrate the camel back into people’s lives. Since inauguration, more than 400 students have been through the doors of ADCRC, of which 9 have successfully obtained a jockey license.
Activities offered include: