Maarten D. de Jong
Generally, having buildings in the beginning gives the players a big advantage.
Yes, but those buildings don't exactly come for free, and someone pursuing buildings very strongly will not participate meaningfully in the caravan and the souks during the first week, and sometimes not even in the first half of the second. If you introduce a timed award, buildings are no longer interesting to pursue as a strategy; and this will upset the balance of the game considerably.
However, some people have trouble getting camels.
Sometimes it's a little difficult, true. But I've not found it problematic as there are ways to increase that number.
So what about changing the system of how you get points:
And how does that affect the fact that you think camels are hard to obtain?