“Special language” is used by Saudi camel whisperers to instruct herds.
Despite the fact that camel herder Hamad al-Marri's cries are meaningless to the untrained ear, his animals immediately respond by lining up behind him and walking together across the Saudi desert.
Alheda’a, a method of communication, was added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage last month. This shows how camels and people living in the Arabian Peninsula have always been close.
According to the UN cultural agency, a skilled camel herder can use only his voice to calm an animal, get it to kneel, and even signal a change of direction as they walk together through the sands of the desert.
Marri, a 36-year-old civil servant who owns 100 camels and grazes them 150 kilometres (about 90 miles) northeast of the capital Riyadh, explained, “There is a special language between the owner of a camel and his camel.”
“The camels are aware of the tone of their owner’s voice and immediately respond to him; if someone else calls them, they will not respond to him,” the statement reads.
Camels, also known as “ships of the desert,” have long been important means of transportation in Saudi Arabia. They give their owners status and helped grow a lucrative camel breeding industry.
According to Jasser al-Harbash, CEO of the Saudi Heritage Commission, there are “many rock carvings that show painted camels and tell the story of the camel, whether they have been used in war or trade.”
He said, without going into detail, that the goal of pursuing the UNESCO listing was to “protect” Alheda’a and “provide an opportunity for its development.”
Together with neighboring Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the bid was submitted.
Alheda’a, who means “they know their name,” can be used for a variety of things: bringing a scattered herd that is in danger from a coming sandstorm together, for instance, or calming camels as they drink water.
According to UNESCO’s description of the practice, “Herders train their camels to recognize the difference between right and left, to open their mouths when asked, and to kneel down to be ridden.”
“It is spread within families and communities by children accompanying adult family members on daily trips,” says the author.
Mansour al-Qatula, a Saudi herder, watched his father and grandfather raise Alheda’a when he was a young boy.
He told AFP that he wanted to give it to his three kids.
He stated, “In my family, we have inherited the care of camels for more than 200 years.” My children now adore it, and they frequently request to visit, making their voices heard.
Qatula attended the seventh King Abdulaziz Camel Festival earlier this month with his camels, with the intention of highlighting the camel’s significance to Saudi culture.
The beauty contestants competed for prizes worth a total of 350 million riyals (about $93 million).
The dromedaries were decided on ascribes including their lips, necks, mounds and shading.
Qatula explained how Alheda’a lets herders bond with their children during a break in the action.
He said as one of his camels let out her own cry, “The owner of the camels calls his camels with special names, and through repetition, they know their name and respond to it.”
He laughed as he stroked the animal and said, “Look.” She shares my feelings.