Camel Beauty Pageant: 43 Contestants Disqualified Over Botox, Fillers

Unsplash | Saj Shafique

Damir Mujezinovic

People usually associate the term beauty pageant with contests such as Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss International, and Miss Earth.

But in Saudi Arabia, one of the most popular beauty pageants has nothing to do with women -- it involves camels, which are an important part of Saudi culture and everyday life.

The 40-day King Abdulaziz Camel Festival takes place every year near the city of Riyadh. The breeders compete for more than $66 million in prize money, and some are willing to do whatever it takes to win.

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At this year's King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, dozens of breeders have been accused of using various unethical methods to enhance the appearance of their camels, as reported by CNN.

The cheating breeders have injected their camels with silicone, Botox, and hormones, used rubber bands to inflate the animals' body parts. Organizers have recorded a total of 147 cases of tampering, which is the largest number in festival's history.

Forty-three contestants were disqualified from the competition and will have to pay fines.


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Tampering Fines

Marzouk Al-Natto, a spokesman for the festival's legal committee, explained that fines are very high.

The fine for injecting Botox, hormones, or fillers can be as much as 100,000 riyals or $27,000. The fine for tampering with the camel's tail (braiding, dyeing) can be as much as 30,000 riyals, or $8,000.

Festival staff and organizers detect tampering by examining the camels physically. They also use X-ray machines, sonar devices, and other similar instruments.

Rare camels are a very profitable business in Saudi Arabia, so it is no surprise that breeders are willing to take risks, per CNN.

Animal Welfare

As per The New York Post, the tampering is not just unfair and unethical, it can also be very dangerous for the animals.

At a similar beauty competition this August, for instance, one camel's lips ruptured after a Botox injection.

The ongoing King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, however, is not just about beauty pageants. It features a petting zoo, camel races, museums, and offers various interesting camel-related activities for visitors.

Hundreds of thousands of Saudis attend the festival each year, according to the publication.


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Camel festivals are a part of Saudi tradition and aim to preserve the Bedouin culture as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman modernizes the kingdom.

Earlier this year, as CNBC reported, bin Salman announced judicial reforms that put Saudi Arabia on a path to codified law.

"The new laws represent a new wave of reforms that will ... increase the reliability of procedures and oversight mechanisms as cornerstones in achieving the principles of justice, clarifying the lines of accountability," the crown prince said at the time.