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the vice guide to travel

Miss Camel Beauty Contest

Charlet finds herself the only woman in the desert, looking for beauty in the beast.

The desert may be one of the last places on earth you'd expect to find a beauty pageant. But on Christmas Day, while you were busy testing the limits of your digestive system, VICE's Charlet Duboc was negotiating sand dunes in Abu Dhabi's remote Western Region, all in the name of beauty.

In the West we think nothing of beauty contests for dogs, horses, flowers, even women. But the leggy, doe-eyed lovelies on parade here are of the four-legged variety, and are judged on such criteria as having a nice firm pair of ears and floppy lips. Just like supermodels, at the height of their careers camels can command millions of dollars. Who knew? While the supercar or SUV has replaced the camel as the most popular means of transportation in the modern Emirates, the animal retains an important place in the nation's heart. "Beautiful camel" may strike you as somewhat of an oxymoron. But many a bedouin or sheikh will think nothing of dropping up to $3 million dollars on a so-called prized beauty, in the hope that she'll bring home the coveted 'Bayraq', aka the accolade of being the fairest camel in the land. For this episode of The VICE Guide to Travel Charlet finds herself the only woman in the desert, looking for the elusive beauty in the beast.