A significant transformation is underway in the realm of camel racing in the UAE. Once predominantly a sport for men, camel racing is now experiencing a surge in female participation. These women, who had never been exposed to camels until recently, are not only taking part in the sport but also mastering the art of camel riding, defying expectations and shattering barriers.

Jana Schmiedel, a 40-year-old adventurer from Germany, exemplifies this shift. She had never entertained the idea of camel racing until she developed a friendship with a local Emirati family in Al Ain. According to her, her fascination with camels stemmed from her interest in the local culture and her bond with the family. Prior to this, camel racing was entirely alien to her. Jana expressed immense joy in forming a profound connection with these majestic creatures, commonly referred to as 'ships of the desert,' beyond the confines of the racetrack. Additionally, she considers it a privilege to be among the pioneering female camel jockeys who are advocating for women's involvement in this sport.

Sioned Taylor, a 54-year-old British newcomer to camel racing, only discovered the sport six months ago. She became aware of it through a conversation with a member of a cycling club. Within a week, she had enrolled in her inaugural lesson. Despite her lack of prior experience with camels, Sioned found the sport to be unexpectedly exhilarating and safer compared to her previous pursuits, such as skydiving and triathlons. Undeterred by the challenges, including unforeseen twists and turns during races, Sioned remains resolute in excelling at her newfound passion.

Jennifer Reggio, a 40-year-old American horse racing manager, was introduced to camel racing by a friend. Despite having never interacted with camels before, Jennifer wholeheartedly embraced the sport. She often advises her son to venture beyond his comfort zone, emphasizing that growth occurs outside of it. Jennifer is also fervent about representing the rich heritage and culture of the region through her involvement in camel racing.

Meanwhile, Coralie Viroulaud, a 31-year-old Frenchwoman, stumbled upon camel racing after relocating to the UAE. In her words, sports in general contribute to mental well-being and physical fitness, and this holds true for camel racing as well.

Rawan Salah, a 27-year-old expatriate from Jordan, embarked on her journey by participating in the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) camel trek in 2022. Subsequently, she delved into camel racing and commenced training with the Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre (ADCRC) to compete in international races. Nearly two years since she began riding camels, Rawan finds the thrill of the race in the adrenaline rush of the initial gallop. She likened the first few moments when the gate opens and the camel launches into a gallop to an exhilarating sensation of flight.

Speaking about the trainer of the first all-female camel jockey team and the founder of ADCRC, German coach Linda Krockenberger, 32, highlighted that camel racing is an ideal sport for women. She pointed out that women are not only drawn to the competition but are also eager to discover the personalities of the camels and establish enduring connections with these animals. Linda, who has been based in the UAE for nearly a decade, made the transition from horses to camels in 2019 out of sheer curiosity. She noted the substantial rise in female participation, from being the sole woman amidst hundreds of men in 2023 to witnessing over 20 women competing in their own category in 2024 during the recent race in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.