Botox scandals, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and only one winner: it’s not the Miss Universe competition; it’s Saudi Arabia’s camel beauty contest.
Nearly 30,000 camels participated in this year’s event, as part of a larger festival over the course of 30 days that included camel riding and an obedience competition.
This year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival took place Jan. 1 through Feb. 1 near Riyadh. The festival had previously been located in a remote part of the desert, but organizers moved it as an attempt to draw more visitors to Saudi Arabia both locally and internationally. An estimated 600,000 spectators attended, The Independent reported.
Judges assess the beauty of the camels based on a set of traits, detailed in the website for the festival. Some attributes that judges look for include delicate ears, big mouths, and even specific qualities in their humps.
Festival authorities disqualified 12 camels earlier this year after discovering the camels had been injected with Botox. With the contests across the pageant section totaling $31.8 million prize money, the competition is fierce, according to local news outlet The National.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips, and even the jaw,” Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular attendee at the festival, told The National. “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.’”
One plastic surgeon was even operating on camels to reduce their ear size, according to the same report.
The festival still took place, minus some 12 delinquent camels, and by all reports the winners succeeded on their natural beauty alone.