25 Jan 2018

Camels banned from Saudi beauty contest over Botox

7:56 am on 25 January 2018

Twelve prized camels have been disqualified from a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia after their owners tried to tweak their good looks with Botox.

A Saudi man leads camels during a beauty contest as part of the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Rumah.

A Saudi man leads camels during a beauty contest as part of the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Rumah. Photo: AFP

Thousands of camels are paraded at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, to be judged on their shapely lips and humps.

But judges stepped in when they discovered some owners had cheated in a bid to win the cash prizes.

The festival, which also features camel racing and camel milk tasting, has combined prize money of $57m.

Ali Al Mazrouei, the son of a top Emirati breeder, said Botox was used for the lips, the nose and even the jaw, news website The National reports.

"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'," he said.

Judges are also looking for perfectly placed humps, muscular physiques and leathery mouths.

In the lead up to the festival, Saudi media reported that a vet had been caught giving camels plastic surgery including Botox injections and reducing the size of their ears.

Saudi authorities take the festival very seriously and chief judge Fawzan al-Madi said the camel was "a symbol of Saudi Arabia".

"We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime," he said.

The camel beauty contest was first held in 2000 and last year was relocated from a remote desert area to a permanent venue north of the capital, Riyadh.

- BBC

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs