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Published: January 4th 2015
To compete in a a beauty pageant in the desert, it is not good enough to just show up with your pretty face or perfect hump. You must bring a little glitz to the show ring if you want to be taken seriously. And the glitz is serious business.
Each camel or camel herd brought their own style to the grandstands each day. Much of the bling involved gold or silver foil sparkle and some designs with beading. The accessories were designed to add to the camel's beauty without obstructing the camel's beauty.
The fancy finishings were draped over the hump, tied around the neck or placed on the head. And when an entire herd was being judged, the herd all wore matching accessories--like a team uniform of glitter.
As with anything involving animals, there were some minor malfunctions. Babies tugging on tassles. Herd members nibbling on each other's dressings. Fussy contestants shaking off the glittery details. But for the most part, everyone seemed to accept the idea that they needed to bring the sparkle if they wanted to compete for a vehicle and the much sought after bragging rights.
My favorite display of pageantry and patriotism
was on the final day of the festival when owners presented their best herd of 50 camels for competitions. One herd was escorted to the grandstands by guide camels draped in huge, silky UAE flag blankets coupled with flags on little sticks standing up from their saddles. They looked like little proud aliens marching across the desert.
In the souq, there were tents selling supplies to camel owners and craftsmen making new designs. And, to no surprise, we did some shopping. Siwa and Algiers will be getting some flashy Christmas gifts when we get home. They will be getting gifts they did not even know they wanted! Bring on the bling.
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