Among various attractions staged in Qatar as the World Cup goes on is the truly unique camel pageant contest.
The pageant contestants included a camel named Nazaa’a that displayed not only dazzling beauty but also poise and grace during Friday’s contest at Qatar Camel Mzayen Club.
Nazaa’a batted her eyelashes and flashed a toothy smile for the television cameras at the Mzayen World Cup, held in the Qatari desert about fifteen miles (twenty-five kilometers) away from Doha and the FIFA World Cup.
The majestic light-haired creature overcame several preliminary rounds and outdid hundreds of other camels to emerge victorious in the contest.
A total of fifteen camels competed for the crown, paraded by fans while wearing bejeweled collars and draped in strings of gemstones.
Jassim al Kuwari, who is part of the family that owns Nazaa’a, jokingly said, “I thought our camel was better than Ronaldo and Messi.”
Pageant organized to create cultural awareness at World Cup
The camel pageant contest was designed to bring cultural awareness to World Cup visitors, and it was sponsored by the Ministry of Sports and Youth in conjunction with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is the local World Cup organizing committee.
However, throughout the Middle East, such events are quite common, as camels have played an important role in the culture for generations.
Al Kuwari said, “This is our culture. This is from a long time ago, from our fathers and grandfathers.”
“Today is a competition, a beauty competition,” he said. “We like these camels. We give them names. It’s like a family.”
During the event, visitors were greeted by a camel jingle, called “Welcome to the Camel Competition,” and served Karak, a spiced tea with milk.
Camel owners and their families sat in an air-conditioned luxury tent with red velvet chairs and a glass wall to watch the competition.
Hamad al Greissi, a camel owner, said, “I have been with camels and their contests since I was a child.”
“Camels were there before planes and cars,” he reasoned. “They were called the ships of the desert. After modern vehicles, the camels became less popular, but they still hold a big place in our culture.”
Pure-bred female camels, a top attraction
The competitors made several passes in front of a stand of fans who cheered for their favorite camels. However, the pure-bred female camels were the main attraction.
Besides the pageant display, there was also a milking competition, with the prize going to the camel that produced the most milk.
There were also monetary awards and trophies presented to the camels pronounced as the winner and runner-up as well as the camel that placed third.
Nazaa’s owners earned fifty-five thousand dollars (two hundred thousand Qatari riyals), while the camel that produced the most milk won four thousand dollars (fifteen thousand riyals).
Actually, the contest is quite a serious one because a doctor is on staff to make sure the animals don’t use fillers or Botox to enhance their appearance. Hence, make no mistake of dismissing this truly unique contest!
In December 2021, dozens of camels were disqualified from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia for cosmetic enhancements.