Camel beauty pageants become popular pastime in Saudi Arabia
Photo:Arantxa Hernández | Flickr

From New York Times:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — This time of year, when the weather here is still cool and comfortable and the flowering plants and shrubs are everywhere, how better to spend a day than to be out in the desert with beautiful camels?

To be sure, the untrained eye might find it hard to appreciate such beauty. But here, camel aesthetics can be evaluated according to a series of precise and exacting standards.

“It’s just like judging a beautiful girl,” said Fowzan al-Madr, a camel breeder from the Kharj region southeast of Riyadh. “You look for big eyes, long lashes and a long neck — maybe 39 or 40 inches.”

As he spoke, Mr. Madr was surveying the offerings at Saudi Arabia’s largest camel market, on the outskirts of Riyadh. The souq al-jamal, as the market is called in Arabic, sprawls over the open desert for so many acres that it is handy to have a car to drive from pen to pen.

The days are long past when camels were crucial to life, a chapter lost in increasing urbanization and technology. But there is still pleasure in raising them, as a touchpoint to history, sometimes for milk and meat, for racing and, yes, for their beauty.
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