Snap caption: Even camel supermodels have to be camera-ready
The Mazayna Al Dafra camel festival starts today, running until December 28, in Madinat Zayed Al Gharbia, or the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Do go, it's a ton of fun to see all the attention paid to these trusty "ship of the desert" creatures. And it's also home to the world's only camel beauty contest, which attracts camel owners from far and wide. The judging committee takes the selection process for a winner very seriously.
“The judges are looking for camels with big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks and big whiskers," said Ali Sayah Rassas Al Mansouri, a camel owner and member of the event's organising comittee. "
The body should be long, the hump and the back should be big, and the colour and posture of the camel are important too."
There is a big religious significance to this reverence to camels (although really, they are magnificent animals all on their own). Al Mansouri explains: “Of all animals mentioned in the holy Quran, Allah picked the camels and invited people to reflect upon: “Why do they not look at the camels and how they are created?” Camels are beautiful; they can be fast and strong; sometimes loyal and sometimes wild. They are intriguing and graceful.”
There is also big money involved for the winning camels, who are called "supermodels": Dh300,000 for the top 10, with cars and cash prizes on offer for the runners-up.