Arab countries had more than 15 million camels at the end of 2008 and more than 70 per cent of them are concentrated in impoverished Sudan and conflict-battered Somalia, according to official statistics.
The figure is more than one million camels higher than in 2001 and the bulk of the increase was in Sudan, the UAE and other Gulf nations, showed the figures by the Khartoum-based Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD).
Despite its massive camel wealth, Somalia was the only Arab country to record a slight decline in the number of its camels over the past year, AOAD said.
At the end of 2008, the total number of camels in the 21-nation Arab League stood at around 15.89 million, an average one camel per 21 persons in the region, which had a population of about 334 million at the end of that year.
Somalia, one of the poorest Arab nations, emerged as the richest in camels, which were estimated at around 7.13 million, just below half of the combined Arab camel wealth, said AOAD, an affiliate of the Cairo-based Arab League.
But the figure was slightly below the number of its camels of around 7.14 million in 2001. It also means the country has an average one camel per 1.4 persons as the African nation’s population stood at nearly 10.3 million at the end of 2008.
Sudan, one of the largest Arab countries, had the second highest number of camels, standing at about 4.4 million at the end of 2008.
But its camel-to-population ratio is far below that in Somalia given Sudan’s relatively high population of around 38.2 million. This means the east African country has an average camel for every 8.6 persons.
The report showed Mauritania, another poor Arab nation, had the third largest numbers of camels in the region, estimated at 1.49 million.
Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest Arab members and the world’s top oil exporter, had the fourth largest camel wealth with around 869,000. It was followed by the UAE which had nearly 378,000 camels.
Both Gulf countries have recorded increases in their camel wealth, which stood at around 724,000 and 265,000 respectively in 2001.
The number of camels stood at about 373,000 in Yemen, 295,000 in Algeria, 192,000 in Egypt, 180,000 in Morocco, 170,000 in Libya, 124,000 in Oman, 72,000 in Tunisia, 68,000 in Djibouti and 59,000 in war-torn Iraq.
Bahrain, which has the smallest area in the Arab world, had the lowest number of camels, standing at around 2,000, according to AOAD.