Some of the fastest Arabian saluki dogs gathered at Al Dhafra Festival yesterday for one of the last races at this year's 10 days Al Dhafra Festival, in the desert surroundings of Madinat Zayed, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate.
Despite the strong wind, 15 male salukis lined up at the start of the track, normally used for camel racing, to challenge each other over a two kilometer track. In just over two minutes, the race was over with the fastest male saluki, black haired Takhteet, crossing the finishing line in 2.18:66.
Soon afterwards, it was the time for the female saluki to race over the same two kilometer track, and, surprisingly, the top winner beat the male record. Fazaah, a grey saluki crossed the finishing line in 2.13:31.
Over long distances, salukis are known to be the fastest of all dog breeds. In 1996, the Guinness Book of World Records entered on its list the fastest saluki, who reached a speed of 68.8 kilometers per hour.
Believed to have its origins in China, the saluki was among the first breed of dogs to be domesticated. In Arabia, they have been used by Bedouin people for thousands of years for hunting.
After a pre-qualifications race on December 23rd, the Challenge, the final race on December 30th, crowned five winners in each category – male and female.
Only pure bred Arabian salukis were allowed to enter the competition and they had to be at least one year old. The owners of the first winner in each category drove away with a brand new 4x4 car, while the second placed received Dh30,000, the third Dh20,000 and both fourth and fifth places walked away with Dh5,000.