A Botox scandal at Saudi Arabia's camel beauty contest

T TV Thursday 25/January/2018 10:50 AM
By: Times News Service

Riyadh: In camel terms, this one's quite the looker.
And that's why it's here — taking part in Saudi Arabia's camel beauty contest — where the pageant queens of the desert are judged on the size of their lips, cheeks, heads and knees.
And the competition is fierce.
So fierce in fact that a dozen camels were disqualified because their handlers used Botox to make them more attractive.
This is all part of an annual, month-long festival honouring the humble dromedary.
Fawzan Al-Madi, the head of the panel of judges, said of the contest: "It is an old symbol and a source of pride for the sons of the peninsula. In the past it represented food, clothing, and transportation. It represented everything."
But this event also represents something else - how authorities here are emphasising traditional aspects of Saudi culture whilst the kingdom simultaneously and rapidly modernises.
The Gulf state is getting its first movie theatres, women will soon be allowed to drive and the authorities are trying to end the economy's decades of dependence on oil.
And that's perhaps why they've ramped up this tradfitional event.
It was moved last year from the remote desert to this purpose built permanent venue on the outskirts of the capital Riydah, complete with a "heritage village" and an auction where top camels can be sold for millions of riyals.
Organisers say the event will expand in the years ahead — an attempt, perhaps, to avoid giving traditionalists the hump.