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Um Ruqaiba camel pageant winners awarded prizes

Prince Mishaal, chairman of the Allegiance Council, yesterday distributed King Abdul Aziz prize to the top winners of a major camel pageant at Um Ruqaiba, a desert area 350 km northeast of Riyadh.
Addressing the concluding ceremony, Prince Mishaal thanked God for the quick recovery of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah following a back surgery. “It marks a festival for Saudis,” he added.
About 16,500 camels from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries took part in the event, one of the region’s largest camel beauty contests.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prince Saud bin Mishaal, vice chairman of the organizing committee, thanked Prince Mishaal for gracing the occasion.
He commended Prince Mishaal’s continuous support to the contest. “This is one of the major annual festivals in the Kingdom,” he said. “Thanks to the wide media coverage, the whole world now knows about this camel pageant,” the vice chairman said.
He praised camel owners in the Gulf countries for showing keen interest in the pageant.
Organizers said 16,539 male and female camels had been booked for the contest, which attracted camel owners from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.
Around 393 camel owners from Saudi Arabia are taking part in the event while there are five from the UAE, 36 from Kuwait and 26 from Qatar, said Prince Saud.
Thousands of people, including a large number of expatriates, flocked to Um Ruqaiba every day to watch the contest while deals worth hundreds of millions of riyals involving sales of camels were conducted every day.
Besides camels, a massive bazaar was held with the setting up of restaurants and furnished tents for the participants and guests. The camel beauty pageant was once a local desert custom that has now transformed into a competition, which is worth millions of Saudi riyals in prizes, and can transform the camel owners into celebrities. Both male and female camels participate in the pageant where a camel’s beauty is assessed based on “the size of its head; whether its lips cover its teeth, the length of its neck and the roundness of its hump.”
Saudi Arabia has about 870,000 camels while the UAE has nearly 378,000 and Oman 124,000. The camel wealth is much smaller in Kuwait and Qatar.

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