The alternative “World Championship” sees camels compete in the beauty pageant in Qatar
- US News
- December 3, 2022
- No Comment
ASH-SHHANIYA, Qatar (AP) – Like all good participants in pageants, Nazaa’a displayed not only dazzling beauty but also serenity and grace.
She batted her eyelashes and smiled for TV cameras at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the desert of Qatar some 25 kilometers from Doha and the World Cup.
Nazaa’a, mind you, is a camel.
Imagine if the Westminster Dog Show crossed paths with the Miss America Pageant, save for camels.
Nazaa’a is a majestic light-haired creature who defeated multiple preliminary rounds and hundreds of other camels to win the pageant at the Qatar Camel Mzayen Club on Friday.
The event, designed to bring cultural awareness to World Cup attendees, was sponsored by the Ministry of Sport and Youth in conjunction with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the local World Cup organizing committee.
Nazaa’a was one of 15 camels that competed for the crown by parading in front of the fans wearing jeweled collars and draped with strings of precious stones.
“I liked our camel better than Ronaldo and Messi,” joked Jassim al Kuwari, part of the family that owns Nazaa’a.
These events are held regularly throughout the Middle East, where people have been associated with camels for generations.
“It’s our culture. That’s a long time ago, from our fathers and grandfathers,” said Al Kuwari. “Today is a competition, a beauty pageant. We like these camels. We give them names. It’s like family.”
Visitors were greeted with a camel jingle “Welcome to the Camel Competition” and served karak, a spiced tea with milk. Owners and their families sat in a luxury air-conditioned tent with red velvet chairs and a glass wall to watch the competition.
The main attraction was the purebred female camels. Competitors make multiple passes in front of a grandstand of fans cheering for their favorite. There is also a milking competition where the camel that produces the most milk wins the prize.
Make no mistake, this is a serious competition: a doctor makes sure the animals don’t use fillers or botox to make them more beautiful. Last December, dozens of camels were disqualified from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia for cosmetic improvements.
Then there’s the money: the winning, runner-up and third-place camels receive trophies. Nazaa’s owners earned 200,000 Qatari riyals (US$55,000). The camel that produces the most milk wins 15,000 riyals.
“I have been associated with camels and their competitions since I was a child,” said camel owner Hamad al Greissi. “Camels came before planes and cars. They were called the ships of the desert. After modern vehicles camels became less popular, but they still hold a big place in our culture.”