ASH-SHANIYA, Qatar ( Associated Press) — Like any good contestant, Nazaa’a displayed not only stunning beauty, but also elegance.
She blinked her eyelashes and smiled for television cameras at the Mezen World Cup, a beauty pageant held in the Qatari desert about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the soccer World Cup in Doha.
Naja, yes, it is a camel.
Think a cross between the Westminster Road Pageant and Miss Universe, but with camels.
Naja is a majestic, mild-mannered creature who overcame several preliminary rounds and hundreds of samples to win the show at the Mazayen Camel Club in Qatar on Friday.
Conceived to bring local culture closer to those traveling to the country for the football tournament, the event was sponsored by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in association with the Organization and Heritage Committee, which organizes the World Cup.
Naja was one of 15 camels competing for the title and paraded through an audience adorned with necklaces of precious stone gems and stars.
“I thought our dealer was better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi,” joked Jassim Al Kuwari, a member of Naja’s family.
This type of phenomenon is common in the Middle East, where there is a strong association with camels.
“This is our culture. It comes from our parents and grandparents from long ago,” said Al Quwari. “Today there is a contest, a beauty pageant. We love these camels. We name them. It’s like a family.”