The month-long festival, the Gulf’s largest, attracts more than 50,000 of the long-necked mammals, and – besides the beauty contest – includes competitions for camel racing, obedience training, camel hair art and the best photographs of camels. Contestants, all Saudi Arabian purebreds, vie for more than USD$57 million in awards.
Camels are judged on head size, whether the lips cover its teeth, neck length, the shape and placement of the hump, the eyes size, how long the lashes are, how the nose droops and whether the ears stand back. According to strict contest rules the animals must exhibit “untouched natural beauty. These dozen animals were rejected from the festival for receiving Botox, used in human cosmetic surgeries to remove wrinkles.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” said Ali Al Mazrouei, the son of a top Emirati breeder, to 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’.”
Previously, a veterinarian had been caught performing plastic surgery to reduce the size of the camels’ ears (dainty ears are also a winning look). Festival officials have tried to prevent cheating by microchipping the animals and requiring them to board in special pens before the competition to prevent their owners from tampering with them.
Owners are also required to swear on the Quran that they are telling the truth about camel appearance and ownership. Judges report that this is proving to be te best tactic to weed out cheaters.