If high quality sportswear can improve performance in human athletes, then it technically should work for animals as well. Testing this theory is UAE-based camel and horse luxury products company Al Shibla. They recently launched a line of lycra-style outfits for camels, and they claim that the bizarre product has already garnered tremendous interest among stable owners in the Middle East.
It’s true that compression suits are worn by race horses around the world to improve performance, but the owners of Al Shibla believe that camels deserve the very best in comfort clothing as well. “If it’s fitting the horse, why we don’t do it for the camel?” asked Anne Wolter, co-founder and head of research and development.
Made of soft, thick material that covers the body, the suits improve blood circulation by slightly constricting blood vessels. Worn before and after training, it increases blood and oxygen supply to the muscles, reducing the lactic acid build-up that causes cramping. The animal is covered entirely, except for the head and neck.
Designed for use before and after races, the special leotards are meant to serve a dual purpose. “The full body suit can help racing camels run faster, while the cream of the species entered into camel beauty contests will have the ability to stand taller after using the suit,” the company wrote in their sales pitch. The suits can also be used during transportation, when camels tend to lose a lot of weight due to stress hormones working overtime.
“We can compare it with the compression socks we get in the hospital. It activates the blood circulation in the muscle,” Wolter added. “If there’s a health problem, people usually just call the vet and ask for an injection, but there are physiotherapy treatments, and the compression suit is a physiotherapy treatment.”
“The animals are much fitter, so you can just see everything has a good blood circulation,” explained Birgit Kemphues, director of Al Shibla.
The company launched the full body compression suit at the Al Dhafra Camel Festival in December, after months of designing the product to perfection. It was especially difficult to make a suit for camels, because unlike horses, they rest on folded knees with their breasts rubbing against the ground. So they had to use extra thick durable material for those parts. The suits aren’t ready-made, but will be tailored to fit each individual animal.
According to Wolter, the company has already received requests from representatives of major stables; they are apparently keen to have their owners’ and sponsors’ names printed on the tailor-made jerseys.
“Everyone is so intrigued because for so long the stables have just used blankets after training,” Wolter said. “Owners stop and say, ‘I’ve been racing camels for decades and I’ve never seen anything like it.’ Some call it the ‘camel kandura’. They are also seeing opportunities and we already have people asking about having branding on the outfits.”
“In such a competitive sport, it can give you the edge you need,” said Camel breeder Sultan Al Ketbi, who has already purchased the suits for his camels.
The suits are quite expensive at Dhs 3,500 (almost $1,000) apiece, but Wolter says they are worth the price. “If you ship a camel from the UAE to Saudi or Qatar, it can lose 15kg to 30kg because of stress,” she explained. “Our research and testing has shown that we can get that down to about 7.5kg to 10kg by wearing our outfits. In addition to that, the outfit is like a thrombosis sock. It squeezes the muscle and ensures circulation.”
“It’s also like wearing a special T-shirt for the gym,” Wolter added. “You don’t sweat as a result. Until now, the stables used blankets but they’re not suitable for all conditions.”
At the moment, the suits are designed for use before and after the race, but the company is working on a new design for an actual race suit. “Customs are quite traditional in the Middle East and camels and horses race without any additions, but we believe that will change over time,” said Wolter.
Al Shibla’s horse and dog suits are quite popular in several countries across the world. And this isn’t the first time they are in the news for their bizarre camel products. In 2012, they made headlines for their organic, pine-scented shampoo for camels!