First Place, 2018 King Abdulaziz Camel Festival Photo Contest

To get camels ready for races, they are taken out for tafheem, an Arabic word that has two main meanings in English. One is “gathering together,” and the other is “coking”—as in making charcoal, a process that uses some of the wood’s energy in burning, but which allows for quicker and hotter burning later. For these camels, that means when they compete on the eight-kilometer-long course in the al-Dahna desert. 

This was my first experience shooting camel racing. I had left my house after midnight to arrive at dawn. As the sun rose, there was some mist near the ground, and this herd was kicking up dust, too. To me this photo shows some of the quiet spirit that is also part of the Arab heritage with camels.

—Abdullah Sulaiman Alshathri