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What Goes on at a Camel Beauty Contest?

Every year, thousands of camels and their handlers convene near the small Saudi Arabian village of Rumah to compete for fame and fortune at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival. In addition to camel racing and camel milk tasting events, the best-looking dromedaries are entered in a beauty contest, where judges assess color, coat texture, leg length and various facial features, including the fullness and beauty of a camel’s lips. Humps must be perfectly placed, and a camel must be well-toned. More than $30 million USD is awarded in the beauty contest alone. In 2018, however, 12 camels were disqualified after their owners were caught using Botox to enhance the shape and suppleness of the camels' mouths and noses.

Assessing legs, humps and lips:

  • Veterinary judges detected cosmetic enhancements such as lip fillers by examining a camel’s eyes. In the 2019 competition, ultrasound was used to detect surgical modifications, such as reshaped noes and ears.

  • Camel owners caught cheating were also fined $2,666 USD for each infraction. Saudis take the festival seriously. Camels are “a symbol of Saudi Arabia,” said chief judge Fawzan al-Madi.

  • More than $57 million USD in prizes was awarded in the 2019 competition. The contest was first held in 2000, but was relocated to a permanent site last year north of the capital, Riyadh.

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More Info: Lonely Planet

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