Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Shahaniya – Oud and Camel Races

The other day I was invited to a friend's majlis out at Shahaniya, where the camel racing tracks are. My friend owns racing camels and has a small holding area next to the majlis where he can keep his camels that he enters into races. Thanks to recent rain the weather was really nice so we spent most the time outside.

There's a big race coming up this weekend so there were competitors from all over the GCC there with their camels. Getting to my friend's majlis took a bit of time as once I got near the track I had to stop many times and wait for camels to go by.

So my friend and I, as well as a couple of other people we knew, were sitting on a carpet and chatting when an Indian man came up to them and started speaking Arabic. They answered back, chatted for half a minute, then he ran off and came back with another man and a big suitcase. I was a bit confused as to what was going on, my Arabic isn't good enough to follow conversations.

So the man then put the suitcase down and opened it.

It turns out he was an oud seller! He was wandering the neighborhood with his assistant and seeing if anyone was interested in buying oud wood and oud oil. A wandering oud salesman was definitely not something I was expecting, but later my friends told me that in Shahaniya it's quite common to see oud salesmen when there are lots of people around for a big race.

So my friends reviewed the oud, chatted and haggled, and in the end did not purchase anything. It turns out that the oud was QAR 6500 a kilo (~ US$1800, pretty expensive as far as I'm concerned but good quality oud can be far more expensive than that) and my friends felt that the quality of the wood was not great and did not justify the price. One of my friends wondered if there would be other oud sellers wandering by but no one else came. They joked it was because of my old Honda City parked out front as it would be a car that an oud seller would use -- the other sellers probably assumed someone was already there.

So if you’re interested there’s a big race coming up. On my way out of Shahaniya my friend pointed out a parking lot with the prizes, over 250 vehicles to be won (mostly Land Cruisers but there were two Bentleys!). If you want to see camel races try to get out to Shahaniya this weekend.

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