Camels are naturally beautiful
January brings the month-long King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival located just outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. The growing festival was once located deep in the desert, but it was moved to the more populous area so that citizens would become more interested in celebrating their cultural heritage since the country is changing rapidly.
Scandal has rocked one event at the prestigious festival, however, and the entire world is now concerned that animals are being mistreated for money.
The King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival hosts food vendors, camel milk samples, historical presentations, and a Camel Beauty Contest that has brought thousands of humped beasts from all over the country who are vying for a cash prize. The rules placed on the owners of the camels are quite strict, and they even have to swear on the Quran that everything they’ve said about their camels is true.
The popular Beauty Contest was launched in the year 2000, and it was created to “accentuate and enhance camel tradition in the Saudi, Arab, and Islamic culture, to achieve regional and global leadership and to establish the festival as the most prominent international forum on camels, and to provide a cultural, touristic, sporting, and recreational and economic platforms for camels and their heritage,” according to the festival’s website.
One of the biggest rules about the camels is that they have to be completely natural. If the judge’s find that the camels have been altered in some way, the owner will be “excluded immediately, with the offender being deprived of participation in this session and at least next five sessions of the Festival.” They may also be investigated according to the GCC Animal Welfare Act as performing cosmetic procedures on animals is considered abusive by many.
So far this year, 12 camels have been disqualified from the competition as they’ve had Botox injections in their faces to make them more attractive.
Camel breeder Ali Al Mazrouei explained to The National that Botox was used in the lips, nose, and jaw to make the camel look healthier. “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,’” he explained.
He feels as though this sort of trickery is an insult to the prestigious competition, and the punishment for the violators should be worse than merely disqualification. “The people who are just in the camel competition to make it more valuable, they are cheating everyone. 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,” he explained.
Attendence at the festival is up about one-third from last year. Camel Club Board Member Fahd al-Semmari said that the yearly even will grow to become a ”global, pioneering forum for all classes of people to come for entertainment, knowledge and competition.”
Chief Camel Judge Fawzan al-Madi who disqualified the altered camels believes in the powerful symbol of camels for his country. “The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia,” he told Reuters. “We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime.”
More scrutiny may be placed on the entrants of the Camel Beauty Contest next year due to this scandal.
Do you think that people should be fined for injecting their animals with substances like Botox? Do you think the punishment should be worse than that? Let us know in the comments, and SHARE this story!