Millions of dirhams in prizes were at stake.

A dozen camels have been disqualified from the beauty contest at a Saudi festival when it was discovered their owners had injected them with Botox.

The camels were competing at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia, where prize money totals US$57 million (Dhs209.3m), according to The National.

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With money like that at stake, dishonesty comes into play.

“For example they start to pull the lips of the camel, they pull it by hand like this every day to make it longer,” pageant guide and camel owner Ali Obaid told The National.

“Secondly, they use hormones to make it more muscular and Botox makes the head bigger and bigger. Everyone wants to be a winner.”

Considering these camels are also up for sale, altering their appearances can inflate prices for substandard animals. The effects of Botox take months to fade, so buyers may not realise they’ve been conned for a long time.

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Ali Al Mazrouei, whose father is a top Emirati camel breeder, told The National injections would be used in “the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” to improve the camel’s appearance.

Small, delicate ears, a big head, and long eyelashes are among the features considered beautiful on a camel, as well as a long, slim neck and a high, well-placed hump.

The incident has attracted attention in international media, with reports appearing in The Guardian, The Sun, and The Independent. 

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