TEHRAN (Press Shia) – The dromedaries paraded down a dusty racetrack as judges rated the size of their lips, cheeks, heads and knees. Crowds of men watched from the bleachers, hooting when the beasts representing their own tribe loped down the track.
Twelve camels have been disqualified from an annual Saudi beauty contest after their owners were found to have used Botox.
The animals were ejected from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, taking place near Riyadh, for violating strict beauty contest rules.
Cash prizes for camel competitions at the 28-day festival total $57million, so pressure to cheat can be intense.
“The camel,” explained the chief judge of the show, Fawzan al-Madi, “is a symbol of Saudi Arabia. We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime”, according to Reuters.
In recent years the Saudi royal family have boosted the profile of the camel festival as they emphasize aspects of traditional culture, while at the same time pushing for societal reform.
Much is changing in Saudi Arabia. The country is getting its first movie theaters and women are permitted to drive.