With the sixth edition of King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in full swing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, female jockeys geared up to compete in a camel beauty pageant for the first time in the event's history. From 38 contestants, 10 finalists were announced to compete in the first round with five of them qualifying for the final round. The races were held in a 32 square kilometer area in Al-Dahnaa's southern Sayahadah district.
Haya Al-Askar emerged as the winner of this round, with Rasma Al-Dosari taking second place, and Malath Bint Aoun coming in third. Prizes totaling SR88 million (almost $23,500,000 USD) were split amongst the winners. In an interview with Arab News, Al-Askar was thrilled by her recent win as she thanked His Highness King Salman for giving women the opportunity to compete.
Here are what hopeful contestants faced at the event. Each woman is required to enter her maghatir camel for medical examination, and then partake in a race where the jockey would compete against other contestants for advanced positions. Afterwards, the women may proceed to the main event, which includes three color categories and an individual class. In addition, judges grade each camel by its head, neck, and hump, as well as its size. In fact, the organizers of King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, Saudi Camel Club, has been keen to get more women involved in the event, and it's not just beauty pageants as the festival has many more activities such as poetry, concerts, and theater shows.
King Abdulaziz Camel Festival is said to be the largest festival of its kind drawing in over 100,000 attendees from Saudi Arabia and beyond. It is centered around the nation's camel industry, of course, and said to be the largest in the Gulf region. The region is home to the iconic maghatir breed, which has been an integral part of Arabic heritage for many generations.