AP in Dubai
December 8, 2021
Saudi authorities have carried out their biggest crackdown on camel beauty contestants, disqualifying more than 40 “enhanced” camels from the annual pageant, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The camels disqualified in the competition, at the King Abdulaziz camel festival, were judged to have received Botox injections and other artificial touch-ups.
The popular festival, which started this month, invites the breeders of the most beautiful camels to compete for about $66m in prize money.
Botox injections, facelifts and other cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide the winner based on the shape of the animals’ heads, necks, humps, dress, and postures.
Judges at the month-long festival, held in the desert north-east of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, are escalating their clampdown on artificially enhanced camels, the official news agency reported, using “specialised and advanced” technology to detect tampering.
This year, the authorities discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost the animals’ muscles, injected heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces.
“The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” the SPA report said, adding organisers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators”.
The camel beauty contest is at the heart of the massive carnival, which also features camel races, sales and other festivities typically showcasing thousands of dromedaries. The extravaganza seeks to preserve the camel’s role in the Bedouin tradition and heritage as the oil-rich country ploughs ahead with modernising mega projects.
Camel breeding is a multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region.