There are restless grunts as the wiry, spindly kid tightens the harness just behind the hump. He can’t be much older than ten or eleven and his dark body and robes are dripping with sweat as he strains in the late afternoon heat.
Just behind the ear. His boss, older, darker, wiser raps him across the back of the head before screaming something in Arabic. “Laa, Laa, Laa..” (No! No! No!) is all that I can make out before it descends into an unintelligible flutter of guttural sounds. Roughly, the boy is pushed out of the way and his older, more experienced counterpart undoes the harness holding the robot jockey on the camel. He readjusts, re-tightens it, taking out the kinks and being careful not to pinch the skin of the beast as he smooths the hair on its flank, attempting to calm it. The boy is brought over to inspect, to be shown the correct way.
They stand, a rough arm draped around the boys shoulders signifying the end of the lesson – and ending his fears of a punishment.
The camels are brought to their feet, fifteen in all, and whipped with a cane on the rump. They start into a canter, some driven by tall, robed figures, others trailing on a line, kicking and fighting. The dust is suffocating as they run to the next bend, some 3km down the track, slowly fading into the distance.