Three Australian camels will travel two hours down the NSW coast this weekend to star in the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s family-friendly “oasis” event in Darling Harbour.
The event cost about $40,000 to put on. It runs from 10am to 5pm each day and features camel rides, themed food and drink, sand sculpting, and henna tattooing.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority country manager Michael Woods said event organisers needed the permission of the Sydney Foreshore Authority to bring the 2-plus-metre-tall camels to the harbour.
But while hosting camel rides was new to the tourism authority, Woods said the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority was “actually quite experienced”, having approved a similar request for the Sydney Egyptian Festival just last month.
Abu Dhabi’s three star camels are licensed by the state and come with two handlers.
Handlers will be responsible for for keeping the area clean – including managing camel waste – and providing them with food and water throughout the day.
Woods said the Foreshore Authority had required a waste management plan from the handlers, while the tourism authority had prepared for “the rare instance that a camel is unwell or somebody is kicked” with a plan involving the handlers caring for the animals and the authority’s public liability team taking care of any members of the public involved.
“One of the main reasons for bringing camels in is their importance to Arabic and Emirati culture,” he said. “In Abu Dhabi, they’re not used for transport anymore but are worth lots of money in races and beauty contests.”
Woods and two others will represent the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority throughout the weekend, alongside staff from sponsors Etihad Airways and Creative Holidays.
He said this weekend would be the authority’s first event targeting a general audience, with previous marketing efforts focused on specific markets like the Grand Prix and people within the travel industry.
According to Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority estimates, some 200,000 to 300,000 people visit Darling Harbour each weekend.
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