Dubai’s Camelicious hopes to export its camel milk to U.S. market

Officially called Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP) — but far better known by its playful brand name, Camelicious — the farm represents one of Dubai’s very few attempts at actually producing something: healthy, natural camel milk.

camel.milkAbout 250 people work at EICMP, on a huge tract of land covering 25 to 30 square kilometers.

“Dates and camel milk are part of the staple diet of Bedouins. This is what people here used to live from,” said company communications director Kirsten Lange, interviewed during our recent visit to EICMP. “Quite a few locals have camels. They drink the raw milk from their own camels, even though they might live in the city.”

At the moment, about 3,600 camels make up this operation, Lange said. The idea is to have 10,000 animals within the next two or three years.

So how do the workers keep track of all these dromedaries?

“The camels have numbers, but of course our vets know the old ones,” Lange said as she guided us around the farm. “Once in awhile, we give them names. Once we had a camel with lots of hair; we called her Tina Turner. They have GPS trackers on their collars, and we have a very extensive database. On every camel we have a huge database, and they get regular blood and urine tests.”

The point is to get these camels to produce as much milk as possible. The average camel gives seven liters a day, though not all camels are producing at all times. Daily production averages 5,000 to 6,000 liters, she said.

Last February, the company got permission from U.K. authorities to export its camel milk to the British market. The Camelicious brand is now available in selected ethnic stores in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bradford. Milk powder has also been shipped to potential partners in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. …

However, getting the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could be a long way off, especially considering that it’s still strictly illegal to import or sell camel milk in the United States.

As good as its camel milk may be, Camelicious won’t be doing business with one Middle Eastern country anytime soon: Israel. Besides the fact that the UAE and Israel don’t have diplomatic or trade relations, camel milk isn’t kosher — as any rabbi can attest — and is therefore prohibited under Jewish law.