It’s Beauty Pageant Season in Saudi Arabia and it’s big business. The Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Festival oversees what is essentially a Camel Beauty Contest of sorts and the prize money for the pageant is more than $31 million. With that much money comes cheaters and this year saw 12 camels disqualified for using Botox injections.
There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, who knew there was a beauty pageant for camels? Camels use Botox? $31 million dollars? It all begs the most important question – Is it real or fake news?
Saudi “Camel beauty contest” disqualified 12 camels for using Botox
The first news site that we’ve found that discusses this camel beauty contest Botox scandal is The National which is a website based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The article was written with the byline of Anna Zacharias.
The article has a paragraph that highlights some of “What distinguishes a beautiful camel.” The National also tell you why Botox might be used by a breeder to help his camel put her best foot forward. We’ve included an excerpt:
In pursuit of the perfect pout, a dozen camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia for receiving Botox injections.
What distinguishes a beautiful camel is not just its height, shape and the placement of its hump. A full, droopy lip and large features are essential to achieving camel celebrity-status in the multi-million dollar industry of camel pageantry.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” said Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular attendee at Gulf festivals and son of a top Emirati breeder. “It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose’.”
The article continues by discussing just how many camels come to the beauty festival each year which is around 30,000 camels. If you think about it 12 camels out of 30k isn’t even that many but still… Is it real?
Is it fake news?
Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Festival is real and there’s very much a real beauty pageant for the camels and yes – the prize money really does reach tens of millions of dollars. The festival total was about $57 million USD this year.
However, they never actually included a source for this information in the article. If you notice in the excerpt that we previously provided, they have a lead paragraph which makes a statement but there’s no attribution. There’s no source.
The article uses a number of sources for quotes like an “attendee” of the festival named Ali Al Mazrouei; and they talk to a “camel owner” named Ali Obaid, but no sources for the fact that camels were disqualified for Botox use.
The article ends by stating that the festival’s ultimate safeguard against cheating is that they make the winners swear on the Quran.
Is it real? Yes.
An article by Stephen Kalin on Reuters independently verified the facts. They state, “A dozen beasts have been disqualified from this year’s Saudi ‘camel beauty contest’ because their handlers used Botox to make them more handsome.
Their sources are the reporter, Kalin reporting from the festival, and a chief judge of the show named Fawzan al-Madi who was quoted, “The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia. We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime.”