National Geographic : 2009 Aug
• claim or reclaim other camels. During the rst half of Bin Tanaf s life his family s camels pro- duced milk for drinking and hair for weaving into blankets and tents. Dung for fueling res. Urine, even, for a hair wash, to keep lice away. Since Bedouin life centered on movement, land held no value for them; instead, camels became the measure of a man s wealth. And so, a whole vocabulary of distinctions arose to describe them. Asayel are the noble red cam- els. Majahim are dark. A female baby camel is a houraa, a new mother a bikr. A male at puberty is a fahl, and a female is jathaa, unless the male has been with her recently and her udder has begun to swell, in which case she is a laqha. No stage in a camel s life, no moment of growth or excitation, escaped attention. e two species, man and camel, su ered and exulted as one. Then, Bin Tanaf said, something changed. A er thousands of years of sameness, life altered in radical ways. e British le in 1971, ceding control of an oil gush that rained down on the Bedouin. e tribal emirs banded together to form the United Arab Emirates with Abu Dhabi as their capital, and money---a great rolling wave of money--- ooded the desert. Bin Tanaf entered the automobile business. Oil-rich residents bought cars at a furious clip, and he shipped them from overseas makers to the emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. His com- patriots made their fortunes in construction or shipping or in oil itself. ey had grown up not just poor but with no conception of poor, and now the morning sun could hardly climb over their mountains of money. Unable themselves to read or write, they sent their sons to study English in London and French in Paris. ey Bedouin traditions of hierarchy persist even in the grandstand, where spectators--- princes and sheikhs in front---overlook the parade grounds and judging pens (opposite). is patch of Abu Dhabi featured little but dunes until recently, when the emirate s ruling family established a camel pageant.