Desert Ships

I closed out the year clothed in small blankets of dust as men of bedouin roots mingled with their "desert ships" (or camels for those of us not from this land.) 

The week began with me puttering along in a rented sedan. I know I must have looked like a lost city boy cruising down a country road. So much for being the photographer who takes on the fly on the wall approach. Psh, yeah right. 

In this case the country road wasn't lined with corn or soy fields but rollin' golden dunes as far as the eye could see. Welcome to Madinat Zayed. 

Each year men, and some woman, travel from all around the Middle East to sell camels for millions of dirhams and to compete in the Dhafra Festival Camel Beauty Contest. At first, I admit, from a Westerners perspective it sounds slightly comical, but it's truly not. 

Camels have long been revered as the "desert ships" of theses lands and they remain a valuable cultural asset to the heritage of the bedouin. The festival, in its second year, is a conscious effort to preserve the cultural heritage of the Emirates and to transfer the traditions of the bedouin lifestyle to future generations. 

These images are a few of my favorites from my time on the dirt road called Million Street. Rightfully named, as these four legged beauties are sold along the trail for millions of dirhams.