Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

UAE 'still using child jockeys for camel races'

Child riding a camel. Photo: JL Winter, courtesy Anti-Slavery International
Child jockey, photo courtesy Anti-Slavery International

Camel racers in the United Arab Emirates are still using child jockeys in their meetings despite a ban, a human rights organisation says.

Anti-Slavery International has issued pictures of 10-year-olds riding camels at Abu Dhabi's prestigious 12-race competition on 9 February.

Children were officially banned from racing in 2005.

Racing officials said the young riders were Emirati children racing with their parents' consent.

Child jockeys were banned after it was revealed Emirati camel trainers and owners were bringing in hundreds of south Asian and African children to ride camels in races.

They were replaced with "robot jockeys" - mechanical arms that goaded the camels to run.

Camels are a big part of Emirati culture, with fine racing camels sold for millions of dollars at auction.

At the al-Dhafrah camel festival in Abu Dhabi in February, one man spent $6.5m (£4m) on three camels on sale at an auction.

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