Saudi Arabian authorities have conducted their biggest campaign against camel beauty contestants receiving Botox injections and other artificial touch-ups, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
More than 40 camels have been disqualified from the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which started this month and invites breeders of the most beautiful camels to compete for $66 million in prize money.
Botox injections, face lifts and cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide on the winner based on the shape of the animals’ heads, necks, humps, dress and postures.
Judges at the month-long festival in the desert north-east Riyadh are tightening their clamp down on artificially enhanced camels, the official news agency reported, using “specialised and advanced” technology to detect tampering.
Authorities have already discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost their muscles, injected animals’ heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands and used fillers to relax their faces.
The SPA report said: “The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” and that organisers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators”.
The beauty pageant is the centrepiece of the popular carnival, which also features camel races, sales and other festivities typically involving thousands of dromedaries.
The extravaganza seeks to preserve the camel’s role in the kingdom’s Bedouin tradition and heritage, even as the oil-rich country forges ahead with modernisation.
Camel breeding is a multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region.