Camels banned from Saudi beauty contest over Botox

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Prizes worth millions of dollars are on offer at the festival

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

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 (£40m).

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 reported.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Visitors to the festival in al-Dahna, north of Riyadh, can also watch camel racing

"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.

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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.