They come from Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. They parade in front of the judges, fluttering their enormous eyelashes and rotating their rubbery lips.
The judges know what they are looking for: shiny hair, long legs, a massive head, firm ears, an arched nose, a high back and a large and symmetrical hump.
The winners take home brand-new luxury sport-utility vehicles, but something more: the honor of the family.
Despite being outlawed by Saudi Arabian clerics, the camel pageant in Abu Dhabi is a popular annual event lasting nine days, with feasting at the end.
As the nomadic lifestyle declines on the Arabian Peninsula, with more Arabs living in mansions than in tents, the romance of the camel, which sustained life there for thousands of years, persists.
Photo by Randy Olson for National Geographic