Robot Jockey

robot jockey

A robot jockey is commonly used on camels in camel racing. Early designs confused or frightened the camels, so the robots were modified to include more human-like features, including a mannequin-like face, sunglasses, hats, racing silks and even traditional perfumes used by human jockeys. Developed since 2004, the robotic jockeys are slowly phasing out the use of human jockeys, which, in the case of camel racing in the Middle East, often employs small children who reportedly suffer repeated systemic human rights abuses. In response to international condemnation of such abuses, the nations of Qatar and the UAE have banned the use of human jockeys in favor of robots.

Camel racing has been around for thousands of years. ‘The Sport of Sheiks’ almost exclusively utilized small children, usually boys around the age of four, to ride and direct the camels. Often, the boys would be starved to be as light as possible. Many of the boys used for the races were often sold to race organizers or camel owners, and there was an active child slave trade for camel jockeys, involving victims of kidnapping or the children of destitute families who sold them into servitude.

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