Batoola the CamelBatoola translates to champion and as fate would have it, Batoola the camel was a champion of beauty. Batoola was crowned queen of three-year-old Emirati camels recently at Al Dhafra Festival near Madinat Zayed.

With a whopping 15,000 competing camels, it is the biggest camel beauty competition in the Emirates and a win at Al Dhafra can translate into sales worth millions.

Judging took place in the grandstands in the desert south of Medinat Zayed. It lasted all day. Sunday featured five competitions for beauty camels. A local and international competition for those camels that were bought, a local and international competition for camels bred and best overall. This ensures that the winner is not simply the one who has the most cash.

It was not just a big day for fans of Batoola but also for those strategizing to win best herd, the most prestigious competition of the day. Those looking to build the best herd of 50 camels were there to watch the competition and, perhaps, to buy in. Four days into the festival, there was still speculation over who would enter the competition.

Spectators spent the day peering at camels through binoculars, for even the most astute owner can have trouble picking out his camel amongst the herd at a great distance.

As the sun set and excitement grew, young men snuck through the gates into VIP section, running as far as their legs could take them before they were caught and carried out. When Batoola was declared the winner, the crowd rushed down to the gates to greet her, bursting into dance. Others stood back and pulled out mobile phones. Deals were being made, many worth millions.

Batoola’s value was about to go up. After fans danced for an hour, the victors began to parade Batoola down the dusty track known as Millions Street, followed by a convoy of fans.

“Of course there will be party tonight,” said Salem Al Mazrouei. “You’re coming, aren’t you?”

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