It’s dusty, noisy, pungent and chaotic, but never mind: Al Ain’s famous camel market is a wonderful immersion in traditional Arabic culture and it is the UAE’s largest livestock market.
The market is some 15km away from downtown Al Ain located on Street 137 (Zayed Bin Sultan Street) commonly known as Mezyad Road.
All sorts of camels are holed up in pens, from wobbly legged babies that might grow up to be racers to imposing studs kept for breeding. The intense haggling is fun to watch. Trading takes place in the morning, but it’s usually possible to see the corralled animals all day long.
The market is the witness to Arabian culture and is a must-visit place, especially for foreigners, to understand the camel heritage of the UAE.
Camels enjoy a special place in Emirati heritage, which isn’t surprising considering these beasts made survival easier for the Bedouin tribes of the desert by helping them to cross the harsh region with their essential supplies while providing them with milk and meat.
Camel is still used for milk, meat and sporting activities such as racing.
Tourists are welcome to take a look at the different camels. The newborns, some bred for meat and others for racing, make great crowd pleasers. If you visit early enough, attend the mock races meant to train race camels.
Visiting on a weekday allows you to avoid the crowds and provides you with plenty of photo opportunities, but be careful where you point your lens and always ask permission first.
People will try to sell you a tour around the pens, but feel free to walk around on your own. In the livestock section, watch locals arrive in pickups laden with goats and sheep, ready to do some hard bargaining.
Opening hours: from 6 am to 7 pm, with shops closing at 11pm.
Entry Fee: AED 30