Why not a beauty contest for gorgeous camels? People in all parts of the world celebrate the animals they come to love and admire in various ways…and the camel has been an integral part of life in the Middle East for centuries. It is to celebrate the animal the nomadic life & culture of tribal Saudi Arabia has so relied upon, that a beauty contest of camels is being held.
Here’s how a report on this event begins…Flirtatious, I tell you:
The legs are long, the eyes are big, the bodies curvaceous. Contestants in this Saudi-style beauty pageant have all the features you might expect anywhere else in the world, but with one crucial difference — the competitors are camels.
What I find interesting in the next sentence is the reference to Miss Lebanon contests. Now, I am no insider to the Middle East, but I have learned over time that the Lebanese are somehow considered to be quite beautiful among all Arabs, esp their women.
This week, the Qahtani tribe of western Saudi Arabia has been welcoming entrants to its Mazayen al-Ibl competition, a parade of the ‘most beautiful camels’ in the desolate desert region of Guwei’iyya. “In Lebanon they have Miss Lebanon,” jokes Walid, moderator of the competition’s website. “Here we have Miss Camel.”
While tremendous oil wealth has brought rapid modernisation to the desert state of Saudi Arabia, the camel remains celebrated as a symbol of the traditional nomadic lifestyle of Bedouin Arabs. Throughout history camels have served multiple purposes as food, friend, transport and war machine. They were key to the Arab conquests of the Middle East and North Africa nearly 1,400 years ago that brought Islam to the world.
And now this is the funniest part of the story. Camels are big business because Islamic laws do not allow women to take part in beauty contests??? Now, again – I have no problems with a beauty contest for camels – we have all kinds of beauty contests for goats, and cows, and yes especially the dancing horses are so amazing to watch – but what’s up with going straight from women to camels? Is that a good substitute? Why not men first?
Anyways…the rest of article is funny and interesting. I hear camel owners are not ordinary bedouin. Some are famous, rich people. And they really do take care of their camels like some race-horse owners do in some parts of the world.
Camels are also big business in a country where strict Islamic laws and tribal customs would make it impossible for women to take part in their own beauty contest. Delicate females or strapping males who attract the right attention during this week’s show could sell for a million or more riyals. Sponsors have provided 1.36 m for the contest, cash that also covers the 72 sports utility vehicles to be will be awarded as prizes. There are more than 250 owners taking part and more than 1,500 camels.
Restless beauty queens: Over at the camel pen, the contestants are getting restless as the desert wind howls and whips up swirls of sand in the hot afternoon sun. Amid a large crowd of Bedouin who have gathered to watch, the head of the judging committee emerges to venture into an enclosure with some two dozen angry braying camels. Camel-drivers sing songs of praise to their prized possessions as they try to calm the animals down.
And then ofcourse the universal problem for women everywhere pops here as well. The damn males just can’t keep their hands off, esp off the beautiful ones. Even the camels had to wear chastity belts!
The camels are divided into four categories according to breed — the black majaheem, white maghateer, dark brown shi’l and the sufur, which are beige with black shoulders. Arabic famously has over 40 terms for different types of camel. Some females have harnesses strapped around their genitalia to thwart any efforts by the males to mount them. One repeat offender called Marjaa has been moved away.