More than 16,500 camels from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were herded inside a massive complex in the heart of the desert in the Kingdom for one of the region’s largest camel beauty contests.
The pageantry, which is staged every year, was launched in the northeastern Saudi town of Umm Ruqaiba on Saturday and is expected to continue for several weeks.
The first day of the event saw the signing of a deal involving the sale of 20 racing camels for a whopping USD 24 million.
Organizers said 16,539 male and female camels had been booked for the contest, which attracted camel owners from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
Around 393 camel owners from Saudi Arabia are taking part in the event while there are five from the UAE, 36 from Kuwait and 26 from Qatar, said Prince Saud bin Mashal bin Abdul Aziz, deputy manager of the organizing committee.
Newspapers said thousands of people flock to the site every day to watch the contest while deals worth hundreds of millions of dirhams involving sales of camels are conducted every day.
Besides camels, a massive bazaar is held along with the contest along with the setting up of restaurants and furnished tents for the participants and guests.
Camel beauty contests are among the most popular events in the Arabian Peninsula along with falconing and other desert activities.
Camel races are held regularly in all Gulf countries and attended by top officials and sheikhs but they are suspended in summer because of the soaring temperatures.
The UAE has around 378,000 camels while there are nearly 870,000 camels in Saudi Arabia, and124, 000 in Oman. The camel wealth is much smaller in Kuwait and Qatar.