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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ABUDHABI2335 2003-05-12 13:33:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abu Dhabi
Cable title:  

UAE CAMEL RACING SEASON WRAP-UP: MUCH PROGRESS

Tags:   KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB TC 
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Diana T Fritz  05/24/2007 04:16:05 PM  From  DB/Inbox:  Search Results

Cable 
Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
CONFIDENTIAL

SIPDIS
TELEGRAM                                             May 12, 2003


To:       No Action Addressee                                    

Action:   Unknown                                                

From:     AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI (ABU DHABI 2335 - PRIORITY)        

TAGS:     PHUM, ASEC, PREF, ELAB, KCRM, KFRD                     

Captions: None                                                   

Subject:  UAE CAMEL RACING SEASON WRAP-UP: MUCH PROGRESS MADE    
          ALTHOUGH WORK STILL REMAINS TO BE DONE                 

Ref:      None                                                   
_________________________________________________________________
C O N F I D E N T I A L        ABU DHABI 02335

SIPDIS
CXABU:
    ACTION: POL 
    INFO:   RSO AMB DCM P/M ECON 

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CDA: RAALBRIGHT
DRAFTED: POL: MMMENARD
CLEARED: A/DCM: TEWILLIAMS; POL: STWILLIAMS

VZCZCADI598
PP RUEHC RUEHZM RUEHDE
DE RUEHAD #2335/01 1321333
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121333Z MAY 03
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9935
INFO RUEHZM/GCC COLLECTIVE
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 3120
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ABU DHABI 002335 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP, INL, DRL, PRM, NEA/RA AND NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/08
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB TC
SUBJECT: UAE CAMEL RACING SEASON WRAP-UP: MUCH PROGRESS
MADE ALTHOUGH WORK STILL REMAINS TO BE DONE

REFS: A) ABU DHABI 2124 E) 02 ABU DHABI 3397

B) ABU DHABI 1414 F) 02 ABU DHABI 2332
C) ABU DHABI 415 G) 02 DUBAI 1155
D) 02 ABU DHABI 3807 H) 02 DUBAI 3049



1. (U) Classified by Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Richard A.
Albright for Reasons 1.5(B) and (D).



2. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: A round of meetings with UAE
officials confirmed earlier reports (see Refs A and B),
that the UAEG has not yet succeeded 100 percent in
implementing and enforcing the child camel jockey ban that
went into effect on 1 September 2002. The senior
leadership, however, continues to push forward. Efforts to
end the use of child camel jockeys, and thereby eliminate
this market for trafficking in boys, have been complicated
by a number of factors, not the least of which were the
resistance to change from the older generation of Emiratis
and a lack of willingness in some instances on the part of
working-level officials to enforce the rules. Efforts are
also hampered by the fact that the draft legislation has
not yet been ratified, although it has been approved by the
UAE Cabinet. (Note: Once ratified, the ban will move from
regulation to federal law, enforceable by law enforcement
officials. End note.)



3. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT, CONT'D: We are encouraged that
the Emiratis have given themselves a 2-year deadline for
full implementation, a timeframe that is reasonable,
considering resistance to the ban and the time of its
announcement just about a month prior to the start of the
racing season. We also consider this timeframe doable
because of strong political will, as evidenced by MinState
Shaykh Hamdan's commitment to ending this deplorable
practice. Hamdan has personally lobbied the leaders of
other Emirates to implement the new regulations and approve
the draft legislation. He has expended considerable
political capital in so doing. Hamdan has also been very
receptive to the Embassy's interventions, including our
report that the UAE Camel Racing Federation was not
carrying out its duties or his instructions. END SUMMARY
AND COMMENT.



4. (U) Over the past several weeks, Poloff met with a
number of UAEG contacts to get a readout on the
implementation and enforcement of the new camel jockey
requirements (minimum 15 years and 45 kilograms) effective
1 September 2002. (Note: Camel season runs from September
- April. End note.) Interlocutors included: Khadim Al
Darei, Office of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Deputy Director; Abdul Ghaffar Al Hawi, Ministry of Health
Asst U/S for Curative Medicine; Abdulrahim Al Awadi,
Ministry of Justice Asst U/S for Planning and International
Cooperation; Yacub Al-Hosani, MFA Legal Affairs Department
Deputy Director; and Khalfan Khamees, Managing Director of
the UAE Camel Racing Federation.

Status of Camel Jockey Legislation


--------------------------





5. (SBU) On 6 May, Abdulrahim Al Awadi, Ministry of
Justice Asst U/S for Planning and International
Cooperation, reported to Poloff that the camel jockey
legislation had been approved by the UAE Cabinet (a.k.a.
Council of Ministers) and was currently at the Office of
the Minister of State for Supreme Council Affairs awaiting
signatures from the seven emirates' rulers. (Note: The UAE
Supreme Council is the federation's executive authority and
ratifies all federal laws and decrees and plans general
policy. End note.) Receipt of all seven signatures
constitutes ratification of the legislation. The
legislation will then be published in the federal gazette
and have the effect of federal law.



6. (U) As reported Refs F and G, the draft legislation
provides that camel jockeys must be a minimum of 15 years
and weigh a minimum of 45 kilograms (approximately 99
pounds). The legislation will be implemented by the
issuance of camel jockey identification cards, which will
be granted to camel jockeys upon application after passing
a medical exam by a Medical Committee that determines the
age of the jockey through x-rays, tests, etc. (Note: UAEG
officials state that the Medical Committee will not rely on
the age set forth in the jockey's passport because of the
possibility of passport fraud. End note.) The legislation
will be enforced by the inspection of camel jockey
identification cards at camel races. Penalties for
violation: 1st offense, fine of 20,000 dirhams (about 5500
USD); 2nd offense, 1-year ban from participating in camel
racing; 3rd and subsequent offenses, imprisonment.

Current State of Implementation of Camel Jockey Rules


--------------------------



--------------------------





7. (SBU) On 4 May, Abdul Ghaffar Al-Hawi, Ministry of
Health Asst U/S for Curative Medicine, informed Poloff that
the UAEG intends to accomplish full implementation and
enforcement of the camel jockey legislation throughout the
UAE within two racing seasons, noting that 100 percent
implementation and enforcement was impossible to achieve in
one season.



8. (SBU) For his part, Al-Hawi noted that in September
2002, the Ministry of Health issued a circular to all
Curative Medicine offices nationwide with guidelines for
camel jockey medical exams, which will establish the age of
the camel jockey and judge his overall physical fitness.
(Note: Al-Hawi stated that this same medical exam process
is used to establish the age of professional soccer players
in the UAE, who are also required to be of a specified
minimum age. End note.)



9. (SBU) Also, according to information provided by MFA
Desk Officer Shaykha Nejla Al-Qassimi on 11 May, the
Ministry of Interior conducted DNA tests on 40 boys (to
establish familial status with the boys' supposed parents)
between 9 April - 5 May 2003 in connection with the
processing of their residency with employment as camel
jockeys.



10. (SBU) Since the UAE Camel Racing Federation organizes
and officiates at camel races, on 29 April Poloff met with
Mr. Khalfan Khamees, Director of the UAE Camel Racing
Federation, to determine what has been implemented thus far
at the camel races. Khamees reported that, during this
past camel racing season, the Federation implemented the
rules in part by weighing camel jockeys before and after
the races. He continued that the Federation would begin
issuing identification cards with proof of age in May.
(Note: On 29 April, there was a press report in an Arabic-
language daily announcing that the Federation would begin
issuing identification cards in May for the 2003-2004 camel
racing season. End note.)



11. (SBU) When queried as to the minimum weight requirement
being used for camel jockeys, Khassim responded that
Federation officials were requiring a minimum weight of 35
kilograms (about 75 pounds). When asked why the Federation
was using 35 pounds vice the minimum weight requirement of
45 pounds contained in the draft legislation, Khassim
explained that there had been a "big uproar" after the
announcement of the new rules. Apparently, the Federation
compromised on the minimum weight requirements as a result.
(Note: Khassim noted that, prior to this camel-racing
season, the Federation had required a minimum camel jockey
weight of 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds). End note.) He
noted that Federation officials would begin enforcing the
age requirement this upcoming racing season, which would be
possible by the issuance of camel jockey identification
cards beginning in May.



12. (SBU) Khassim also reported during the 29 April meeting
that the camel jockey regulation was not a law and that
"nobody knows [if the rule will become law]." He also
stated that penalties for non-compliance were: 1st
offense, disqualification from the race; 2nd and subsequent
offenses, fine. These statements were subsequently refuted
during Poloff's meetings with Ministry of Justice Asst U/S
for Planning and International Coordination Abdulrahim Al
Awadi on 6 May and with MFA Legal Affairs Deputy Director
Yacoub Al-Hosani on 10 May.



13. (SBU) The Federation's failure to implement the camel
jockey minimum age/weight requirements is confirmed by an
episode of the ABC (Australia Broadcasting Corporation)
Foreign Correspondents Program broadcast in Australia on 23
February. (Note: Poloff discovered this information on 21
April during an Internet search for information related to
camel jockeys in the UAE. End note.) For a copy, see
www.abc.net.au/foreign/stories/s789268.htm (synopsis) and
www.abc.net.au/foreign/stories/s792822.htm (transcript).
The program includes footage of a camel race in Abu Dhabi
Emirate and a camel station (where the camels are trained)
where boys obviously younger than 15 years are being used
as camel jockeys for races and training.



14. (SBU) Polchief and Poloff have used the ABC
synopsis/transcript as an engagement tool on the issue of
child camel jockeys by providing a copy to UAE official and
NGO contacts. We gave copies of the synopsis/transcript to
our interlocutors during our April awareness-raising trip
to Dubai, including: two Dubai NGO leaders; a
journalist/UAE University professor; an American University
Sharjah professor; Director of Corporate Planning and
Excellence in Government for Dubai Crown Prince Shaykh
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum's "Executive Office"; and
Dubai Public Prosecutor's Office Deputy Director of Case
Management (see Ref A). Poloff also gave a copy to
MinState Shaykh Hamdan's Deputy Office Director Khadim Al-
Darei and MFA Americas Desk Officer Shaykha Nejla Al-
Qassimi on 23 April; UAE Camel Racing Federation Khalfan
Khamees on 29 April; and MFA Legal Affairs Department
Deputy Director Yacoub Al-Hosani on 10 May. Post ordered a
video of the program and will disseminate it to UAEG
interlocutors for their edification, reaction and comment.



15. (C) On 4 May, Polchief briefed Yacoub Al-Hosani, MFA
Legal Affairs Department Deputy Director, on the content of
the Poloff-Khamees 29 April meeting, noting the
discrepancies between information about camel jockey rule
implementation provided to us by UAEG officials (including
during the G/TIP official visit in January) and by Khamees
on April 29. Polchief reported that the Camel Racing
Federation had failed to implement the rules effectively
and had a different view of the process (i.e., not a law
and different penalties). Al-Hosani was shocked by this
information because he stated that he had personally
briefed Khamees on the rules and the UAEG plan for
implementation and enforcement. Al-Hosani undertook to
investigate the matter and respond promptly.



16. (C) On or about 6 May, Al-Hosani contacted PolChief and
reported the results of his investigation. He noted that
he had passed the information we gave him about the Camel
Racing Federation's failure to implement the camel jockey
rules and apparent lack of knowledge of the ongoing process
to MFA Asst U/S for Political Affairs Abdullah Rashid Al-
Nuaimi and Ambassador Sultan Al-Romathi, Office Director
for MinState Shaykh Hamdan Bin Zayid. Al-Hosani stated
that later that day he and Al-Nuaimi were called into
Shaykh Hamdan's office, at which time Shaykh Hamdan,
incensed, telephoned Khamees. During that conversation,
Shaykh Hamdan ordered Khamees to effectively implement the
rules and reprimanded him on his failure to follow-through
on Federation responsibilities.



17. (C) Al-Hosani advised that, as a result of the
information provided by Polchief, the MFA will soon post a
"legal advisor" to the UAE Camel Racing Federation to
ensure correct interpretation and implementation of the
camel jockey legislation. Al-Hosani also implied that
Khassim might be asked to leave his position at the
Federation as a result of his failure to execute his
duties.



18. (C) In a follow-up meeting between Poloff and Al-Hosani
on 10 May, Al-Hosani advised that -- as an additional
result of the Federation fiasco -- the Legal Department is
considering recommending the creation of a working-level
group, in addition to the already-existing higher-level
official policy-making working group. He explained that
the working-level group would report either to the MFA or
the higher-level official working group and have the
responsibility of following-up on the various taskings
assigned by the higher-level official working group to
ensure that those taskings are carried out properly and
timely.

UAE Camel Racing Federation: Organization and Operations


--------------------------



--------------------------





19. (C) Shaykh Zayid's son, Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs Shaykh Hamdan Bin Zayed, currently serves as
Chairman of the UAE Camel Racing Federation and is
responsible for overseeing the Federation's operations.
Khamees reported that President Zayed personally funds the
UAE Camel Racing Federation and camel races (along with all
purses) in all emirates except Dubai Emirate, which are
funded by the Dubai ruling family.



20. (SBU) In 1993, President Zayed issued a decree
establishing the UAE Camel Racing Federation, an
administrative body to organize and oversee the different
aspects and activities of camel races. The Federation
subsequently issued rules and regulations for the
organization and conduct of camel races, including minimum
age and weight requirements for camel jockeys. After many
years of prior use of underage camel jockeys, Federation
officials reportedly discovered the minimum age and weight
requirements to be contentious among camel owners and,
according to UAE Camel Racing Federation officials, the
minimum age and weight requirements were not enforced.



21. (U) All racetracks are fully maintained by the UAE
Camel Racing Federation. According to Khamees, there are
no private racecourses. All racetracks are administered by
an organizing committee, which reports directly to the
Federation Director on the conduct of races, including the
implementation of rules and regulations. Racetrack
officers actually operate the racetrack and report to the
organizing committee's Director of Operations. The
racetrack officers' responsibilities specifically include
jockey control.

Camels and Camel Racing: Part of UAE Culture and Heritage


--------------------------



--------------------------





22. (U) Khamees stated that camel racing is a "dear part
of UAE culture", which President Zayid is committed to
maintaining. (Note: This sentiment regarding camel racing
has been expressed by all of our contacts. End note.) In
the past, camels were an essential part of the economy and
lives of Emiratis; camels were used to transport goods,
served as currency, and were a source of meat, milk,
leather and wool (used for weaving). The number of camels
an individual owned determined his prestige, power, and
social status. Khamees noted that many Emiratis from all
walks of life, from shaykhs to the Bedu, sill own and breed
camels and often participate in camel races. Consequently,
the breeding and trade in camels remains today a big
business in the UAE, especially for the Bedu.

ALBRIGHT