Since November 24, Qatar Camel Mzayen Club has been hosting the Camel Beauty World Cup, which wraps up tomorrow. The Daily Mail features a story about the competition along with a video showing both human and camel participants in the competition. At the beginning of the video Hamad Jaber al-Athba, President of the Qatar Camel Mzayen club, explains:
The idea is similar to the soccer World Cup. We did a Camel Beauty World Cup. We have participants from the Gulf Corporation Council, we have big names, and today is the fifth day of the tournament. We saw that this has a lot of success, and the price of camels reached 10 million (about 2,750,000 USD), 15 million (about 4,120,000 USD), or 20 million (about 5,495,000 USD). So this success encouraged us to care for the sport. The camel has high regard in the Gulf countries because it was our companion during the formation of the state—the beginning of civilization in the Gulf.
He also explains how they judge the animals:
The characteristics to measure the beauty of a camel differ from one group to another. For instance, the Black Camels are judged according to the size of the body and the head and the location of the ears. But the Maghateer-type camel, we look for proportionality and the ears should be dropping down, not standing straight, in addition to the way the mouth is curved. As far as Asel are concerned, they have special characteristics. The location of the ears is important. There should be delicacy in the bones, the hooves, so there are characteristics that need more detail.
Next in the video, a man dressed in scrubs who looks to perhaps be a veterinarian explains that they are carefully inspecting each animal before they can compete, to crack down on the kinds of illegal enhancements that have plagued other similar contests:
We are examining all the camels before they are allowed to participate in the competition to uncover any foul play or 'cosmetic surgery.' It causes tissue laceration, cuts the nerves, causes inflammation, fibrosis, fillers, Botox, silicone, everything that comes or doesn't comes to mind.
The Daily Mail explains that camels in previous beauty contests had been subjected to procedures that caused permanent damage and painful injuries:
In 2021, 43 camels were disqualified from a Saudi Arabia beauty contest after they were given Botox, face lifts and muscle-boosting hormones to make their lips droopier and their humps more shapely. The procedures can leave the camels with horrific injuries.
Indeed, referencing a similar beauty contest that took place in Saudi Arabia last year, The Guardian reports:
Authorities discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost the animals' muscles, injected heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces.
Illustrating the horrific results of such procedures, The Daily Mail article also features a viral video from August 2021 showing camels whose lips ruptured after being pumped full of Botox for a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia. The video is incredibly disturbing, to say the least. The Daily Mail also reports that the Qatar contest has sought to cut down on these kinds of procedures:
Hamad Jaber Al-Athba, the chief festival organiser, said work had been done to stop tampering, which includes the use of Botox and fillers, with the camels being put through X-rays and other monitoring. 'We had a professional veterinary staff and advanced equipment and we worked to combat tampering and limit the spread of cosmetic materials,' he said. 'Corruption was fought seriously at the Qatar Camel Festival.'
I sincerely hope this is true, because this kind of animal abuse is unconscionable. But unless there is some kind of financial incentive for this animal abuse to stop, I'll remain skeptical. The Guardian explains that camel festivals and contests like the one currently happening in Qatar are extravaganzas that seek "to preserve the camel's role in the Bedouin tradition and heritage as the oil-rich country ploughs ahead with modernising mega projects." The Guardian also reveals that camel breeding is a "multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region."
According to the Gulf Times, while the contest ends December 2nd, the second edition of the Qatar Camel Festival will be kicking off January 28, 2023, also held by the Qatar Camel Mzayen Club.