The annual contest has been moved from its previous venue in the desert to the outskirts of the capital Riyadh, where a jury rates tens of thousands of camels based on their appearance. The event is part of a big festival that celebrates the animal, which symbolizes Bedouin life in the desert.
With a prize money total of around $57 million, it is no surprise that around 30,000 camels have been entered in the show, but the month-long event has already run into controversy.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali al-Mazrouei, 31, whose father breeds camels, told the Emirates’ The National. “It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose’.”
Around 300,000 people have reportedly attended the event that began at the start of the month and includes not only the beauty pageant but also camel racing and auctions for buyers and sellers. The possibility that a Botox-injected camel could win big money or go to a buyer for a high price, months before it returns to its regular appearance, has worried some attendees of the event, who want beauty pageant cheats to be punished just the same as giving performance-enhancing drugs to a racing camel is punished.
“The people who are just in the camel competition to make it more valuable, they are cheating everyone,” al-Mazourei added. “A fine should be applied. In camel racing, whoever is using drugs is fined about 50,000 Dirhams in Abu Dhabi. The fine is not yet applied for beauty camels.”
At least none of the camels are suspected of getting hump implants.
But seriously, what next? Saudi Arabia allowing camels to drive cars?