World’s most beautiful camels descend on Al Dhafra festival

World’s most beautiful camels descend on Al Dhafra festival
World’s most beautiful camels descend on Al Dhafra festival

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The annual Al-Dhafra festival in the United Arab Emirates has kicked off, with some 24,000 camels and their owners making their way to the desert dunes of Madinet Zayed in the hope that their animal is named the world's "most beautiful".

The festival is on its 13th edition and goes on from the 9 December to the 25th and is put on by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee to celebrate the UAE's desert culture and unique animals, including camels, falcons, Arabian horses and Saluki hounds, as well as poetry recitals.

For many attendees the highlight of the three-week festival is the prestigious camel beauty pageants, which sees some of the country's prettiest animals paraded for the chance to win the grand prize of Dh60 million ($16 million).

Eyelashes, length of legs, the softness of the pelt and a full hump are just some of the attributes that are judged at the festival.

The camel Al-Ashwa, owned by Salem Eida, has won the competition two years running.

Speaking to The National about his prized animal, Salem Al Ameri, a relative of the owner said she won the prizes in her first and second years of her life.

Another camel, called Fahya, is one of eight to be competing from a Dossari family from Wadi Al Dawasar in Saudi Arabia.

The cousin of the owner said: "Eight will participate and all are exceptional."

"Her lips, her long nose, her tail, her height and she's a Dossari," he boasted.

The festival puts the camels through a rigorous competition process consisting of a total of 81 rounds with 695 prizes up for grabs.

The two main competitions for the camels is the main race and the camel-milking contest, where the quality of their milk is be assessed.

And it isn't just camels who could win big – there are hundreds of prizes allocated to other competing animals as well as poetry recitals, shooting, prizes for the best dates and sour milk, fashion shows and food contest.

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