RIYADH: Twenty-five female camel owners have been allowed to showcase their animals for the first time in a beauty contest at a major festival taking place in Saudi Arabia.
The sixth edition of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival has introduced an open round for women with maghatirs, an ancient and highly valued breed of camel.
A committee of judges will grade the animals in three color categories and an individual class.
The Saudi Camel Club has been keen to encourage the involvement of women in regional and international camel competitions.
Saudi camel owner, Munira Al-Mukhass, told Arab News that having the opportunity to take part in the contest with her camel, Tawq, felt in itself similar to winning a medal.
“I have met and had meetings with many camel owners over the years and it’s funny that I said to one of them, Umair Al-Qahtani, God willing, one day I will participate in the festival. Now my wish has come true,” she said.
Al-Mukhass noted that rules for entering the competition had been simple to follow. “The registration and medical examination procedures for young camels took me only one day. They explained to us how to participate, register, and the time of attendance.”
And she hoped that after competing in the festival, her camel may be worth around SR1 million ($266,000), and that next year’s event could see equal numbers of male and female camel owners taking part.
A consultant and member of the Saudi Society for the Study of Camels, Fahad Al-Bogami, said the animals came in many shades with each color having its own beauty specifications and distinguishing features.
He pointed out that the beauty of a camel was judged on parts of its body such as the head, neck, and hump, and generally took into consideration size, length, and height.
Bedouin tribes divide maghatir camels into colors that range from white shades, to yellow and red, and each color has a name.
The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, staged northeast of Riyadh, attracts more than 100,000 visitors from around the world every day.