Robots will replace child camel jockeys in UAE DUBAI (AFP) - The United Arab Emirates is to mount robot jockeys on racing camels later this year after a ban on using children in the region's popular sport. AFP/HO/File Photo It will become the second Gulf Arab state, after Qatar, to use robots and ban child jockeys following criticism that infants, some as young as four, were being brought in from poor countries to race the camels. The UAE's first robot jockey exercise has been successfully carried out in the capital, Abu Dhabi, according to media reports this week which also said that the first robots would be produced in August, ready for use in the next camel racing season. Last month, the UAE declared the use of jockeys under the age of 16 and weighing less than 45 kilograms (100 pounds) illegal from April 16. The UAE had in principle already banned the use of children under 15 since 1993 but abuses remain widespread and no one has ever been brought to justice. The US State Department and human rights groups say children are exploited by traffickers who pay their impoverished parents a paltry sum or simply kidnap their victims. The children, mostly from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are then smuggled into the Gulf states. They are often starved by employers to keep them light and increase their racing potential. Mounting camels three times their height, the children face the risk of being thrown off and trampled. In December, Qatar banned the use of children in camel races and said it was preparing to use robot jockeys in 2005. With the new law and introduction of robot jockeys, "the UAE will have adhered to the international regulations governing camel racing while at the same time preserving the traditional character of camel races as a popular local heritage," said Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan al-Nahayan, a senior official. "Unlike the human jockey, the robot is cheaper to maintain and would not have to undergo the same physical hardship that humans would," he said.