Headline of the month!

December 13, 2021 • 9:15 am

I found this story mentioned on Facebook, and tell me: who would not want to read further? In fact, the story is true.

Saudi camel owners are illicitly injecting botox and giving their camels plastic surgery to make them more beautiful! I, for one, didn’t know that there was pride involved in owning a beautiful camel. Click the screenshot from NBC to read:

I will simply reproduce the whole story and try to find some pictures or videos of the beauty festival (my emphases below):

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi authorities have conducted their biggest-ever crackdown on camel beauty contestants that received Botox injections and other artificial touch-ups, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday, with over 40 camels disqualified from the annual pageant.

Saudi Arabia’s popular King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which kicked off earlier this month, invites the breeders of the most beautiful camels to compete for some $66 million in prize money. Botox injections, face lifts and other cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide the winner based on the shape of the camels’ heads, necks, humps, dress and postures.

Judges at the monthlong festival in the desert northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, are escalating their clamp down on artificially enhanced camels, the official news agency reported, using “specialized and advanced” technology to detect tampering.

This year, authorities discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost the beasts’ muscles, injected camels’ heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands and used fillers to relax their faces.

“The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” the SPA report said, adding organizers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators.”

The camel beauty contest is at the heart of the massive carnival, which also features camel races, sales and other festivities typically showcasing 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 plows ahead with modernizing mega-projects.

Camel breeding is a multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region.

Now I understand: it’s all about the money! Sixty-six million bucks for the fastest and most beautiful camels!  If I had any desire to go to Saudi Arabia, I would go for this festival.

Here’s a 15-minute VICE video of a day at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in 20l8, including shots of camel racing (8 km in the desert with robot jockeys, but there’s cheating there, too!), and the famous beauty contest, which starts at 8:40.  What is judged is the collective beauty of each herd of 100 camels. A Saudi explains the criteria for a beautiful camel, including a long neck and lovely lips. They also explain the cheating (in that year 12 camels were disqualified for having Botox injections).  A prize camel can go for half a million dollars!

At the very end, the most beautiful herd is paraded past the spectators with much ceremony.

You MUST watch this video!

27 thoughts on “Headline of the month!

  1. There’s cultural appropriation here somewhere, but I just cannot isolate each appropriation from the other, nor its culture…

    I mean, “botox”!

  2. D’oh! I thought you already knew about that! I would have submitted the link. My favorite was watching camels riding docilely in the back of pickup trucks.

    1. Equally important is the ratio of brain power/moral sense to money available e.g. the Drumpf offspring and mates–in this case tinyness being the worry.

    1. I don’t even want to know what sick people are doing to sheep…

      Or as Utah Philips put it, in Utah, where the men are men and all the sheep are nervous, and where the only source for virgin wool is from sheep that can outrun the Mormons and Republicans!

  3. They have parimutuel wagering on those camel races? Forty furlongs seems a long way to run in the desert heat. I don’t suppose they offer turf races.

  4. Eric Hoffman, in my old dept @ the med school, worked on muscular dystrophy, and seems to still be active in that elsewhere. It seems that horses are afflicted with something like MD, presumably involving the muscle protein dystrophin, that causes their muscles to seize, or something like that. What I recall is that in developing molecular diagnostics for muscular dystrophy, he attracted intensely negative reactions from race horse breeders since mega bucks are paid for race horse sperm for breeding and they were afraid of huge losses if racehorse sperm could be identified as carrying the mutation.

  5. The article has it backward: “camels’ heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands and used fillers to relax their faces.” Fillers inflate parts and botox relaxes muscles.
    · Reply · 1m

    1. An excellent film, but not Christopher Guest’s best (though you do have to turn to up to 11 to beat Best in Show).

  6. I and a friend spent a crazy couple of days sharing a room with an eccentric American dude in Pakistan who kept coming out with memorable statements, one of which was “There’s nothing more pathetic than the look on the face of a losing camel”. He swore it was true, having seen many camel races. We bumped into each other a couple of weeks later in Lahore, where he was waiting to join the convoy to cross the border into India (at that time, if I recall correctly, the border only opened on set dates each month, for foreigners at least, and only official convoys were permitted). Sadly, a couple of days after I last saw him Pete’s convoy was washed away in the monsoon and he drowned – at least according to some of his former students at the Turkish university where he taught English when I visited the city the following year and asked after him.

  7. There are chicken shows in the US. Wherever there’s farmers raising animals, “that’s a fine-looking specimen” is going to be a competition.
    Camel-racing sounds completely reasonable, especially where camels are the local version of horses (“They got away, ’cause there weren’t no animal alive, what could keep up with Clyde, once he got started.”).

  8. I am amazed that the reporter (she-reporter) could walk around and interact with the all male crowd without wearing a veil. That is a good thing, of course.

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