x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Camels compete for beauty prize

Judges pick the most beautiful camels at this year's Al Dhafra Festival in the Western Region.

Camels at the Al Dhafra Festival beauty contests this week in Madinat Zayed, the Western Region. Christopher Pike / The National
Camels at the Al Dhafra Festival beauty contests this week in Madinat Zayed, the Western Region. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // What makes a camel beautiful? Just ask any of the hundreds of owners from around the region flocking to Al Dhafra Festival’s camel beauty competitions.

“The judges are looking for camels with big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks and big whiskers,” said Ali Al Mansouri, a camel owner and member of the Mazayna Al Dhafra organising committee.

“The body should be long, the hump and the back should be big, and the colour and posture of the camel are important.”

The two-week Al Dhafra heritage event in the Western Region, now in its seventh year, includes horse and dog races, a falconry competition, auctions and traditional markets.

But the big attraction is the daily camel beauty competitions, held for two breeds – the light-coloured Asayel, native to the UAE and Oman, and the darker Majahim, from Saudi Arabia.

Five Asayel and four Majahim competitions are held every day. Each competition starts with 100 camels, from which judges pick the 50 most beautiful, then narrow it down to 10.

Owners of the top 10 receive prizes including luxury cars and cash prizes of between Dh18,000 and Dh30,000.

Mr Al Mansouri said judges took great pains to ensure the integrity of the beauty competition because the stakes were so high.

“We try to be as much careful as possible and avoid any outside influence during the judging process,” he said.

“Mazayna Al Dhafra has a good reputation for integrity and reliability that we are keen on preserving.”

Owner are expected to keep their camels in perfect condition, Mr Al Mansouri said. Any camel with skin disease cannot be a winner.

Historically, camels were the symbol of a tribe’s wealth and power, as well as being used for milk, transport and other purposes, he said.

The festival, sponsored by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, runs until December 28.

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