Surfing the Spectacle

The Sporting Life

When we last looked in on the noble tradition of camel racing, we saw how some of the wealthiest men on the planet kidnapped, enslaved and brutalized the poorest of children from Sudan to Pakistan in order to use them as lightweight jockeys for their prized camels.


Human rights groups took issue with the tradition, and one oil-rich realm, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), tried to escape the negative publicity by banning the use of children jockeys, purchasing robotic jockeys to take the children’s place, and claiming the old tradition was all but extinguished.

Problem is, nothing beats the glory of watching a terrified child ride your camel to victory. So when the venerable custom persisted in the UAE, lawsuits were filed against certain eminent sheikhs, accusing them of kidnapping, slavery and other human rights crimes, all of which proved an awful nuisance for the illustrious gentlemen.


Now, finally, something good appears to be happening. Something that might actually help these kids.

The UAE has reached into its vastly deep pockets and emerged with $9 million to compensate children abused or destroyed by—ahem—the sporting life. That means helping them return to their homes, get an education, and maybe even pay their doctor bills.

Naturally the sheikhs insist their generosity is absolutely unrelated to any wrongdoing. No, they’re just looking out for the little ones who’ve lost their fine jobs with all the robots coming in. A gesture from the, um, you know…….heart.

Enough said. The nature of diplomacy. Sometimes it’s best not to scrutinize too closely why anything positive occurs. All that’s important is that global child advocacy groups such as UNICEF and the Ansar Burney Trust are down with the deal, and so shall we all be.


Now, perhaps someone would like to have a word with the mighty princes of Oman, just a stone’s throw away from the UAE. All the images in this entry emerged last month from this nation, where the wretched lives of child jockeys continue under the auspices of its enlightened leaders.

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