Robots weighing up to 15kg were dressed in the clothes of human jockeys during the race held in the capital Abu Dhabi, which officials described as "successful", the WAM news agency reported.

Earlier this month the UAE outlawed using children under 18 - raising the age limit from 16 - in camel races, a practice condemned internationally as a form of slavery.

Human trafficking

The UAE and neighbouring Qatar, which has also banned child camel jockeys and tested out the robotic substitutes, want to replace them with robot riders which receive orders from an instructor via a remote control system on the back of the camel.

UAE officials plan to order up to 10,000 robots from Asian countries at the cost of about $2000 each.

Rights groups have said that several thousand boys, some as young as four, work as jockeys in the lucrative sport in the oil-rich state.

They say many children, mainly from poor Asian countries, had been abducted or sold by their families and that the boys were kept in prison-like conditions and underfed to keep them light so the camels can run faster.

The United States last month criticised four Gulf Arab allies as some of the world's worst offenders in permitting human trafficking. But the UAE has begun returning some boys to their families abroad.