ABU DHABI // Dama the saluki, named for a teardrop to protect her from the evil eye, stood no chance in yesterday's canine beauty contest.
She has been blessed with good looks, certainly; her coat is the light yellow of the Abu Dhabi dunes.
But the judges at yesterday's Arabian Saluki Beauty Competition ruled that her ears and the spaces between her toes were too fluffy for her to enter the smooth Saluki beauty contest.
She should have competed in the feathered Salukis contest for those with light, fluffy fur, but that was held on Thursday.
Dama's owner, Mohammed Al Mazrouei, 17, did not take the news too badly.
At least he could watch his friend, Abdulla Al Qubaisi, 17, compete with his Saluki, Abla. And his cousin, Hazaa Al Neyadi, 15, was there with his Saluki, Resha.
For these young men, the contest was not just a chance to earn extra pocket money. Winning a title could earn them a new 4x4 or iPhone.
"The Saluki is the best, because it's faster," said Abdulla. "It goes 40, 50 kph maybe. No other dog is like this. It's faster than the falcon."
The dog has become a teen status symbol - an affordable and easy way for urban youths to celebrate their heritage.
It is a trend boosted by government support, heritage clubs and the growth of festivals celebrating local tradition.
At the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition yesterday, teenage boys filled the stands to watch Salukis compete.
Saeed Al Qahtani, 53, came from Riyadh to find a Saluki for his son.
"The new generation try to stay like their grandmother and grandfather," said Mr Al Qahtani.
"For 20 or 30 years they stopped Salukis when the buildings came. They stopped and now they have started again."
Ghanem Ahmed, a 20-year-old student, said young people had more time to care for their Salukis.
"Because they're in school it's OK … we have time to go and train our dogs after school," he said.
"Young men love the dogs," agreed Mubarak Al Karbi, 32, a father of five from Abu Dhabi city. "They have free time. It takes free time to have falcons, horses and Salukis."
Mr Al Karbi said owning Salukis was growing in popularity for men under 25 because of government support.
"There's more money, more free time and more love for the Saluki. My children all the time are asking me 'I want one, I want one'."
Winners were selected based on health, physical beauty and obedience.
"You look at some countries and it's all about show," said Karen Fisher, the judge. "Some of them can become caricatures of breeds."
Best in Show among male smooth Salukis went to Sadah, a three-time winner at Sweihan last year and seventh-generation Saluki with the Al Mehairi family from Abu Dhabi city.
"In our generation the Saluki was just for hunting. Now we have racing and beauty shows," said Khaled Al Mehairi, 22, who started Saluki training at 14.
"The young love to be in the competition."
But this event was not just for the young: there was a Dh2,000 prize this year for the oldest Saluki.
"In England they never show the old Salukis or dogs. What about the old?" said Hamad Al Ghanem, the competition organiser and a breeder and general registrar for Saluki of Arabia.
"They keep them at home, sitting at home. Without the oldest you do not have the sons and daughters."
Mr Al Ghanem's family have Saluki pedigrees dating from 1926.
Roberto Ferrari, an Italian trainer and breeder, warned that the Saluki is an addictive passion.
"The Saluki is like a chocolate," said Mr Ferrari. "From the time you have one you want them all."