Camel pageant is among World Cup’s sidelines attractions

Dec 1, 2022, 4:35 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2022, 8:41 pm
A member of the AlKuwari family shows the trophy after winning the first prize at the Mzayen World ...

A member of the AlKuwari family shows the trophy after winning the first prize at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the Qatari desert some 15 miles away from Doha and soccer's World Cup, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

              Camels owners enjoy tea as they wait for results during a pageant at the Qatar camel Mzayen Club, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Fayez Ahmed alKuwari poses with the trophy and a money prize after winning with his family of camel owners the first prize at a camel pageant at the Qatar camel Mzayen Club, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              The decorations of a camel shine during a pageant at the Qatar camel Mzayen Club, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              A camel keeper of the alKuwari family celebrates after winning the first prize at a pageant, at the Qatar camel Mzayen Club, in Ash-Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Camel parade with flags during a pageant at the Qatar camel Mzayen Club, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              A member of the AlKuwari family shows the trophy after winning the first prize at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the Qatari desert some 15 miles away from Doha and soccer's World Cup, in Ash- Shahaniyah, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

ASH-SHHANIYA, Qatar (AP) — Like all good pageant contestants, Nazaa’a displayed not only dazzling beauty but also poise and grace.

She batted her eyelashes and flashed a toothy smile for the television cameras at the Mzayen World Cup, a pageant held in the Qatari desert about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away from Doha and soccer’s World Cup.

Nazaa’a, mind you, is a camel.

Think Westminster Dog Show crossed with the Miss America Pageant, except for, well, camels.

Nazaa’a is a majestic light-haired creature that overcame several preliminary rounds and hundreds of other camels to win the pageant at Qatar Camel Mzayen Club on Friday.

The event, which was designed to bring cultural awareness to World Cup visitors, was sponsored by the Ministry of Sports and Youth, in conjunction with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the local World Cup organizing committee.

Nazaa’a was one of 15 camels who competed for the crown, parading by fans while wearing bejeweled collars and draped with strings of gemstones.

“I thought our camel was better than Ronaldo and Messi,” joked Jassim al Kuwari, part of the family that owns Nazaa’a.

These events are held regularly throughout the Middle East, where the people have connected with camels for generations.

“This is our culture. This is from long time ago, from our fathers and grandfathers,” Al Kuwari said. “Today is a competition, a beauty competition. We like these camels. We give them names. It’s like a family.”

Visitors were greeted by a camel jingle “Welcome to the Camel Competition” and served Karak, a spiced tea with milk. Owners and their families sat in an air-conditioned luxury tent with red velvet chairs and a glass wall to watch the competition.

The main attraction were the pure-bred female camels. Competitors makes several passes in front of a stand of fans that cheer for their favorite. There’s also a milking competition, with the prize going to the camel that produces the most milk.

Make no mistake, this a serious contest: A doctor is on staff to make sure the animals don’t use fillers or Botox to make them more beautiful. Last December dozens of camels were disqualified from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia for cosmetic enhancements.

Then there’s the money: The winner, runner-up and third place camels all receive trophies. Nazaa’s owners earned 200,000 Qatari riyals ($55,000). The camel that produces the most milk wins 15,000 riyal.

“I have been with camels and their contests since I was a child,” camel owner Hamad al Greissi said. “Camels were there before planes and cars. They were called the ships of the desert. after modern vehicles, the camels became less popular, but they still hold a big place in our culture.”

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Bubba Wallace (23) and Alex Bowman (48) participate in a practice session...
Associated Press

Ally Financial expands NASCAR spend with 2 new partnerships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ally Financial has expanded its growing portfolio as a top NASCAR sponsor with a deal to become the official bank of the stock car series and NASCAR-owned race tracks. The multiyear deal was announced Sunday ahead of NASCAR’s exhibition extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and led to the creation […]
1 day ago
Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak celebrates with teammate Pavel Zacha (18) after scoring a g...
Associated Press

Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season. They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up. “We’re still in a good position […]
1 day ago
FILE - Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt holds the Super Bowl trophy during a rally in Kansas Cit...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Hunt, Eagles’ Lurie behind Super Bowl-winning teams

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Clark Hunt proudly held aloft the AFC championship trophy bearing his father’s name, the one signifying that his Kansas City Chiefs were headed back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, and reflected that not so long ago, success seemed elusive. It had been 50 years […]
1 day ago
Atlantic Division's Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (88) and Aleksander Barkov, of th...
Associated Press

Panthers hope All-Star weekend showcased team’s investment

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk is under contract to the Florida Panthers for much of the next decade. So is fellow All-Star Aleksander Barkov. And right there are two compelling reasons for players to join the Panthers in the coming years. The last few days might have helped the recruiting pitch, too. Many of […]
1 day ago
FILE - North Texas football coach Todd Dodge, left, speaks to the media in Denton, Texas, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Mahomes, Hurts latest Texas prep QBs on Super Bowl stage

DALLAS (AP) — Texas high school quarterbacks guru Todd Dodge got what he wanted when Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia won their conference championship games. “I really like Joe Burrow,” Dodge said with a chuckle in reference to Cincinnati’s star quarterback, “but I’m not going to root for Joe Burrow over […]
1 day ago
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
1 day ago
Camel pageant is among World Cup’s sidelines attractions