A beauty contest in Saudi Arabia disqualified twelve camels after their owners were found to have used Botox to make them look more handsome, Reuters revealed.
The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Riyadh expelled the camels and their owners for violating the competition’s rules, updated last year.
“Camels that are found with drugs in the lips, shaved, dyed in any parts of the body, or with changes from the natural form are not allowed,” the contests rulebook says.
The festival, which lasts for 28 days, awards around $57 million in prizes for camels based on their overall beauty, but also in subcategories including camel racing, obedience training, camel hair art, and camel photography.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips, and even the jaw,” Ali al-Mazrouei, the son of a camel breeder, told The National. “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 camel festival has grown in importance in recent years as the Saudi royal family seeks to promote traditional aspects of Arabian culture while Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman seeks to implement radical social and economic reform.
“The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia,” the show’s judge, Fawzan al-Madi, told Reuters. “We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime.”
Last year, the festival was moved from a remote part of the desert to just outside Riyadh and has already attracted around 300,000 since it began in the New Year.
The event takes place in a so-called “heritage village,” which includes food stalls, souvenir shops, petting zoos, and even a camel museum, while organizers claim the festival will be expanded in coming years.
“The vision is for the (festival) to become a global, pioneering forum for all classes of people to come for entertainment, knowledge, and competition,” added Fahd al-Semmari, a member of the Camel Club, which was established by royal decree last July.
However, camel competitions are just one aspect of the Mohammed Bin Salman’s wider modernization movement known as the “Vision 2030,” which was officially approved by Saudi leadership last April. As well as promoting economic growth, the program also intends to loosen some of the rules around women’s rights.