Saudi camel-whisperers use ‘particular language’ to coach herd

RUMAH: The cries of camel herder Hamad al-Marri imply nothing to the untrained ear, however his animals reply immediately, gathering behind him to stroll collectively throughout the Saudi desert.

The mode of communication, referred to as Alheda’a, was inscribed final month on UNESCO’s record of intangible cultural heritage, highlighting the deep conventional connection between camels and inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula.

A talented camel herder can use his voice alone to assuage an animal, make it kneel and even sign a change in path as they trudge collectively by way of the desert sands, mentioned the UN cultural company.

“There’s a particular language between the proprietor of a camel and his camel,” defined 36-year-old Marri, a civil servant who owns 100 camels, grazing them 150 kilometres (about 90 miles) northeast of the capital Riyadh.

“The camels know the tone of their proprietor’s voice and reply to him instantly, and if another person calls them, they won’t reply to him.”

Dubbed the “ships of the desert”, camels have lengthy been an important mode of transportation in Saudi Arabia, conferring standing on their house owners and fuelling the rise of a profitable camel-breeding trade.

There are “many rock carvings that present painted camels and inform the story of the camel, whether or not they have been utilized in struggle or commerce,” mentioned Jasser al-Harbash, CEO of the Saudi Heritage Fee.

The purpose of pursuing the UNESCO itemizing was to “defend” Alheda’a and “present a chance for its improvement”, he mentioned, with out elaborating.

The bid was submitted collectively with neighbouring Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

‘They know their identify’

Alheda’a could be deployed for a spread of duties: bringing collectively a scattered herd threatened by a coming sandstorm, for instance, or soothing camels as they drink water.

“Herders practice their camels to recognise the distinction between proper and left, to open their mouths when requested, and to kneel all the way down to be ridden,” based on UNESCO’s description of the observe.

“It’s transmitted inside households and communities, with youngsters accompanying grownup relations on each day journeys.”

Saudi herder Mansour al-Qatula discovered about Alheda’a in simply this fashion, watching his father and grandfathers whereas he was a younger boy.

He advised AFP he meant to go it on to his three youngsters.

“Now we have inherited the care of camels (in my household) for greater than 200 years,” he mentioned. “Now my youngsters like it, and so they consistently ask to return right here, and their voices are referred to as properly.”

Earlier this month, Qatula introduced his camels to the seventh version of the King Abdulaziz Camel Pageant, which goals to advertise the camel as an integral part of Saudi heritage.

Members within the magnificence contest competed for prizes totalling 350 million riyals ($93 million).

The dromedaries had been judged on attributes together with their lips, necks, humps and colouring.

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Throughout a break within the motion, Qatula defined how Alheda’a permits herders to bond with their costs.

“The proprietor of the camels calls his camels with particular names, and thru repetition, they know their identify and reply to it,” he mentioned, as considered one of his camels let loose a cry of her personal.

“Look,” he mentioned, laughing as he stroked the animal. “She feels the identical means.”