Dozens of Camels Disqualified From Beauty Pageant Over Alleged Botox Injections

In an attempt to keep artificially-enhanced camels out of official beauty pageants, Saudi authorities recently disqualified 43 camels over the use of Botox and other cosmetic procedures.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is one of the several annual events that features a camel beauty pageant. As funny as that might seem to us westerners, it’s no laughing matter in the Middle East. In fact, these sort of competitions is such a big deal that some breeders reportedly resort to Botox injections and other cosmetic touchups to make their animals prettier. The Saudi Press Agency recently reported that over 40 camels were disqualified from this year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival pageant because of Botox injections and other cosmetic procedures.

Photo: Saj Shafique/Unsplash

Apparently, Botox is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the illegal use of cosmetic intervention for camel beauty pageants. Using collagen lip fillers, artificially increasing the animals’ muscles with hormones, and inflating body parts with rubber bands have all been documented in the past. Some breeders go as far as pulling the camels’ upper lip to stretch it and achieve the coveted droopy look.

“They pull it by hand like this every day to make it longer,” Pageant guide Ali Obaid told The National.

The use of cosmetics by camel breeders has become such a big problem in recent years that competition organizers have had to adapt and adopt “specialized and advanced” technology to detect any unauthorized tampering with the animals.


To ensure that the natural beauty of the camel is preserved, the animals are checked both physically and clinically before the pageant, using X-ray machines and sonar devices. Offenders risk fines as high as 100,000 riyals ($27,000) per camel for procedures like Botox or hormone injections, while braiding or dying the camel is punished with a fine of 30,000 riyals ($8,000).

Some might think that the prestige of winning a camel beauty pageant isn’t worth the risk, but it’s not all about bragging rights. Camel breeding is big business in the Middle East, and good placing at beauty pageants can have seriously beneficial implications for the owners. And then there is the prize money. This year breeders at the  King Abdulaziz Camel Festival are competing for about $66 million.