This week’s Travel Photo of the Week takes us to the United Arab Emirates to meet a Dromedary camel. This photo was taken in the Empty Quarter or Rub’ al Khali on the Arabian peninsula. At 250,000 square miles it is the largest sand desert in the world. An area made famous by the legendary explorer Wilfred Thesiger and well documented in his book The Arabian Sands, it is now far more notable for it’s vast crude oil deposits.
Camels are often referred to as the ships of the desert as they were once the only way to traverse large sections of desert and their slow steady rocking gait is similar to that of a rolling sea. Once a symbol of wealth and utilized as both dowries and currency, camels still play an important role to the remaining few Bedouins clinging to their traditional lifestyle. Dromedary camels are not just utilized for transportation, they are an important source of meat and milk in an otherwise barren landscape. The wool considered of high quality is used for tents, rugs, and clothing to ward off the nighttime chill in the desert. The skin is made into shoes, bags, and water containers. Today they are also used for entertainment both for tourists and within the popular world of camel racing. Their comically large eyelashes are useful for protecting the eyes in harsh sandy environments. Dromedary camels or Arabian camels have one large hump and differ from their smaller relatives the bactrian or Asian camel which have two humps. They are related to the alpacas and llamas of South America.