The camel population of Saudi Arabia is ∼607000 out of a world population of 17 million. All are dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius) of four major ecotypes (Elamin & Wilcox, 1992), giving daily milk yields of 3·5–35·0 kg/animal (Knoess, 1977). Camel milk is low in lactose compared with cows' milk (Elamin & Wilcox, 1992). However, levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc are higher than in cows' milk (Sawaya et al. 1984; Abu-Lehia, 1987). Farah (1993) found low levels of potassium and phosphorus in Egyptian dromedaries. There is little difference between the milk of dromedaries and that of bactrian camels (Kheraskov, 1961).
In the Gulf region and some southern Mediterranean countries, substantial amounts of camel milk are consumed by the local people. The investigation reported here was undertaken to shed more light on the nutritional contribution made by camel milk.