She batted her eyes and smiled for the cameras at the Mzayen World Cup. It was a pageant in Qatar, about 15 miles (25 km) from Doha.
Nazaa’a is a camel, though.
Think Westminster Dog Show meets Miss America Pageant. Except for the camels.
Nazaa’a, a magnificent light-haired creature, won the pageant at Qatar Camel Mzayen Club. She had to overcome several preliminary rounds as well as hundreds of other camels.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth sponsored the event in collaboration with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. This local World Cup organizing committee also sponsored the event.
Nazaa’a was among 15 camels that competed for the crown. She was accompanied by fans and wore bejewelled collars and was draped in strings of gemstones.
Jassim Al Kuwari joked, a member of the family that owns Nazaa’a, “I thought our camel tasted better than Ronaldo or Messi.”
These events are regularly held throughout the Middle East where people have been able to connect with camels for many generations.
“This is our culture. Al Kuwari stated that this is a long-standing tradition, handed down from our grandfathers and fathers. “Today, it is a beauty contest. These camels are our favorite. We give them names. It’s almost like a family.
Visitors were welcomed with a camel jingle, “Welcome To the Camel Competition”, and then served Karak (a spiced tea with milk). The competition was watched by owners and their families from a luxury tent equipped with red velvet chairs and an open-air glass wall.
Pure-bred female camels were the main attraction. The competitors make several passes in front a crowd of cheering fans who cheer for their favorite. A milking competition is also held, where the prize goes to the camel with the highest milk production.
This is a serious competition. A doctor is present to ensure that the animals aren’t using fillers or Botox to enhance their beauty. Numerous camels were disqualified last December from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, Saudi Arabia, for cosmetic enhancements.
There’s also the money. The trophies are given to the winner, runner up and third-place camels. Nazaa’s owners received 200,000 Qatari Rial ($55,000) 15,000 riyals will be awarded to the camel with the highest milk production.
Hamad al Greissi, a camel owner, said that she has been involved in camel contests since childhood. “Camels existed before cars and planes. They were known as the ships of the desert. The camels are now less common, but they still have a significant place in our culture.