Why a camel is like a ship and farm land to desert tribes?

Two Bedouin men riding their camels.

Ships of the desert

The camel is vital in desert transport.

You may have heard him called the “ship of the desert.”

Since camels are natural pacers, that is, they move their great legs in lateral pairs, they do produce the rocking motion of a small boat wallowing in the troughs of the waves, and that may be why they were dubbed “ships of the desert.”

At any rate, what magnificent ships they are!

Their dusty walk across a sandy desert manifests the highest order of endurance that would wilt any other beast.

T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) owned a great camel named Ghazala that, as he reports:

“averaged fifty miles a day; eighty was good; in an emergency we might do 110 miles in twenty-four hours; twice the Ghazala, our greatest camel, did 143 miles alone with me."

Of course, these camels like Ghazala are the prize camels, always mares, whose ride is so smooth that Arabs call it “swimming.”

A book can be comfortably read astride them.

On the other hand, the lowly untrained camels hardly ever do more than two and a half miles an hour, but then no one is in a particular hurry in the desert, especially not the Bedouin ( nomadic Arabs).

The Bedouin could tell you best about the camel.

They call the camel “God’s gift,” and, after all, the collapse of this great beast could mean their death.

They really love their “gift,” and therefore the poor social grace and complaining nature of the camel is understandably seldom seen.

For example, the Bedouin will fondle and kiss the big animal, all the while murmuring endearments.

And at intervals throughout the night it has been observed that the camel will come over, moaning softly, to sniff at his owner where he lies before going back to graze.

Camel like a farm land

Bedouin child riding their camels.

The camel is like a farm to the Bedouin, even like the tractor that goes with a farm, since the camel provides a mount and does often pull a plow.

She furnishes milk at the rate of four or five quarts a day, also wool, leather, flesh for meat; even camel dung is used for cooking.

To the dismay of westerners when they encounter the strangest use of a camel’s product.

And that is the use to which its urine is put.

Mothers tenderly bathe newborn babies in camel urine, Bedouins use it as a cure for acne, and drink it as a specific against fever.

They also use it as a mouth rinse purgative and even as a petit coup - which means a small drink before breakfast.

As naturally as girls in other lands use patent preparations, Bedouin damsels may use camel urine to wash their hair and as a henna rinse.

Do you admire that alluring red tinge to the young Bedouin’s beard?

Can you guess where it came from?

Camel urine is used to kill parasites of the head, too, and as a face wash.

It is also said to bring color to the cheeks or warm the hands during chilly weather.

Nor is all this necessarily an offensive thing.

One authority described the precious liquid, saying:

“It smells sweetly of herbs and aromatic plants.” 

If the camel is like a farm, what an enduring farm indeed!