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Wed 8 Jul 2009 06:27 AM

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Saudi restaurant offers baby camel burgers

Experiment with Riyadh eaterie menu has proved popular among customers, say owners.

Saudi restaurant offers baby camel burgers
CAMEL BURGERS: A Riyadh restaurant has a new addition to its menu. (Getty Images)

A fast food restaurant in Saudi Arabia is offering baby camel burgers as the latest way for the camel-crazed country to enjoy one of their favourite delicacies.

Specialities such as camel liver have long been on the menu of upmarket restaurants in the Gulf Arab state, but the experiment with baby camel burgers has met with enthusiasm in a country where the camel is a symbol of nomadic traditions.

"The idea...was to invent something new. It is about the love of Saudi people for camel meat," said Saleh Quwaisi, one of the owners of the Local Hashi Meals restaurant in the capital Riyadh which plans to open a second branch soon and considers to expand further.

Walid Sanchez, managing director of sufraiti.com, a popular Saudi online dining directory, sees a huge market for camel burgers as Saudis like to try out new menus and appreciate the quality of locally made meat.

Some experts also say camel meat is healthy because it is low in fat.

"People like camel meat but no one experimented with camel burgers before...I think it will be a popular thing, it will definitely take off," said Sanchez.

Customers visiting the packed restaurant in Riyadh agreed.

"I'm frankly trying it for the first time and I really like it," said Mohammad Naghi.

"It doesn't have much fat, it's light and has a delicate taste," he said as he chewed away.

Ahmad al-Okaili, ordering "Hashi" burgers - Arabic for baby camel - for him and his children, agreed: "I like their idea and enthusiasm, they're the first to do this and they've become famous with it, which is well-deserved."

While tremendous oil wealth has brought rapid modernisation to the desert state of Saudi Arabia, the camel remains celebrated due to its connection with the traditional nomadic lifestyle of Bedouin Arabs.

Throughout history, the camel has served multiple purposes as food, friend, transport and war machine. It was key to the Arab conquests of the Middle East and North Africa nearly 1,400 years ago that brought Islam to the world.

The Arabic language famously has over 40 terms for different breeds, ages and genders of camel.

Riyadh, which is home to one of the biggest camel markets on the Arabian peninsula, regularly hosts camel races, and every year in various places across the kingdom there are pageants - where a winner could claim hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Reuters)

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shakir 11 years ago

Camels deserve better than end up in beefburgers. They are part of our heritage. Someone should start a Camel Protection society.

AJ 11 years ago

All animals deserve better than ending up in slaughter houses or people mouths. I despise & pity the people that harm any animal for any reason.

The Ulti 11 years ago

Camel protection society??? Why don't we also stop eating fish, beef meat, chicken meat, and maybe we should also prevent ourselves from drinking their milk too, and instead, we start drinking Margaritas in the morning or maybe have banana burger as a lunch to save camels!!! Eating their meat is not forbidden, haram, or illegal. This is not misusing of nature's resources or abusing the animals. Start talking some sense.

sajaya 11 years ago

Wow! We think of a 'camel Protection Society' yet we've never thought of a 'Human Protection Society' for the millions of exploited, abused and misused foreign workers in the Gulf! Camel is now more valuable than human dignity & basic rights for Human Beings!! Way to go Khaleeji's, Way to go.........