A beauty contest in Saudi Arabia? No way! Women have to be covered from head to toe wearing some really heavy black loose-fitting tent with only their eyes and hands exposed. Or maybe they just don't have their swimsuit competition. Or maybe it is one of those fake news bits we hear about. No, you’re not going for that; well how about this: A beauty contest for camels!
In 2000, Saudi Arabia launched this beauty pageant for camels, and it has become the focal point of the King Abdulaziz’ Camel Festival. This month-long celebration offers food stalls, souvenir shops, and a petting zoo featuring the world's tallest and shortest camels. It also includes a museum with life-size sand sculptures of camels, tents for tasting camel's milk, more tents for viewing camel-hair textiles and products, and a planetarium show explaining how Arabs rode camels through the desert guided only by the stars.
This festival was relocated last year to a more permanent spot from the remote desert location making it more accessible to the 300,000 attendees. The Saudi government built a permanent venue that includes a pavilion where the auctions and other competitions are held during the festival which boasts a combined purse of 213 million riyals or 57 million dollars. Yes, you read it right, 57 greenbacks, Simoleans, Shekels, wampum, whatever you want to call it, that is a lot of money on camel spending!
I have shared this vital information (I’ve personally have lived a better part of a century without this knowledge), but one never knows the informational capacity of an inquisitive brain, does one? But, I digress.
This festival is for real and with that kind of money expended the government, and the festival organizers want to make sure that the integrity of this event is maintained. Some 31.8 million dollars is set aside for the beauty pageant alone, and the judges are chosen very carefully and must be held to the highest standards of camel assessment, whatever the hell that is you ask. Fear not as I am here to inform. Long necks, broad cheeks, wide full nose, shapely humps, ears not too big or floppy, leathery full droopy lips not too droopy, and finally the knees.
This year as the dromedaries paraded down the dusty racetrack, crowds of men watched from the bleachers hooting and hollering at the magnificent beasts. The judges began to rate these beauty contestants when the unimaginable happened. One, two, six, ten, finally 12 contestants were disqualified from the competition.
These contestants were ineligible to win as their owners had injected Botox injections to make them more attractive. And to compound this grievous infraction, a veterinarian was caught performing plastic surgery on camels a few days before the pageant. Another clinic was surgically reducing the size of the animals’ ears to make them appear more delicate.
Ali Al Mazrouel, a regular festival goer and son of a prominent Emirati breeder, said the following to newspapers, "They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw. It makes the head more inflated, so when the camel comes, it's like, 'Oh look at how big that head is. It has big lips, a big nose.' "
The festival attendees were not the only ones who were outraged; Tucker Carlson highlighted this story on his Fox news show a couple of nights ago. But he was quick to add that the authorities were handling the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I am making my plane reservations next week,
as I long to experience the stifling heat, the smell of camel dung, the feel of dust on my face as they parade by the bleachers, and the body odors of the local inhabitants.