The most beautiful camels from all around the Gulf have arrived in Rimah, a governorate in Riyadh province, Saudi Arabia, to take part in Mahrajan Al Aibil, (The King Abdulaziz camel festival/pageant). Launched on the 19th of March, it continues until the 15th of April.

According to organizers the number of visitors is expected to reach 2 million by the end of the event. They include royalty, athletes and designers from all around the GCC and other countries, as well as participants and spectators. 

This year, the prestigious festival is held under the slogan, “Camels are Civilization," and features more than 50,000 camel contestants and around 1,390 owners vying for a record total of 31 million dollars spread among 270 prizes.

Aside from breed and color, the camels will be judged on the length of their lashes, the size of their eyes, the shape of their lips, the size of the head, the length of the neck, and the roundness, height and placement of the hump, the Washington Post reported. 

Judging the event is a committee of selected Bedouins, considered experts in camel-rearing. 

Something for everyone

Visitors of the festival can showcase their camels on the pageant's runway, which covers twelve miles of desert. They can also participate in auctions and enjoy cultural activities including poetry, folk songs (shalat), feasts, and the famous ardha dance.

Organizers also host family oriented events as part of the festival. These include, exhibitions, photo competitions and theater activities for children.

The festival's events are covered live on its website and Twitter page.

Speaking to Arab News, the spokesman of the festival Talal bin Khalid al-Torify explained that this year's event aims “to connect the new generations to the old heritage, while it also serves as an inspiration and reflection of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”

A highly regarded cultural event

The pageant is an annual festival that began in 1999. It was started by a group of local Bedouins who decided they wanted to set up a contest for the most beautiful camels.

After receiving support form the Saudi royal family, the festival went on to become a major cultural event, which aims to preserve purebred Arabian camel strains and celebrate the historic relation between man and camel across the Arabian peninsula.

Usually dubbed the "ships of the desert," camels have traditionally provided  Bedouins with food, clothing and transportation.