Presenting the most glamorous goat in all Arabia

Contestants in the Gulf's most hotly contested beauty pageant turn heads with their shaggy coats and unnerving eyes

By David Randall
Sunday 02 November 2008 01:00

There are nanny goats, nervous goats, and probably even nefarious goats. And now, we learn, there are also Najdi goats – the most desirable and expensive in the world. And, for a mere £16,500, plus shipping, one of these beauties - the newly crowned thoroughbreds of the goating world - can now be yours.

The place to go for a Najdi goat is Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where, following the famous competitions for the most comely camel, the latest pageant for good-looking beasts has been held. Owners of pedigree Najdi goats from around the Gulf region converged on Riyadh in the past week, hoping to win the prizes for top male and top female goat. "The Najdi goat is a pure national product like nothing else in the world," said Sheikh Faisal al-Saadoun, a Saudi breeder who organised the show. "They are different in terms of beauty, shape and how eye-catching they are."

The goats are named after the central Najd region of Saudi Arabia. They have a distinctive, high nose-bridge and shaggy hair with a fine, silky quality. Most of the goats in the competition were bred from one star goat, Burgan, from Sheikh Saadoun's stable, and have been exported around the Gulf in trade worth millions of riyals.

Burgan was not on display at the show as the owners fear he could be afflicted by the "evil eye". But that did not stop offers from the Qatari royal family to buy him, the compere told the gathering.

Sheikh Saadoun sold dozens of goats from his stable for at least 100,000 riyals (£16,500) each at the show, adding to some 8m riyals he has made over the years breeding from Burgan. "This male goat is different. He is historic and he has contributed to developing the Najdi goat," he said, as poets recited verses in praise of the goats over loudspeakers. The winner in the male category was a son of Burgan, with a value of 450,000 riyals.

The gathering at a ranch outside Riyadh gave breeders a chance to trade but Abu Ahmed, a breeder from the United Arab Emirates, was disappointed that Sheikh Saadoun did not take his offer of 350,000 riyals for another son of Burgan. "I wanted to develop the breed from the point it has got to," he said.

However, camels remain the pride of the Bedouins. Delicate females or strapping males can sell for more than a million riyals, and camel-racing is a popular sport throughout the Gulf. Last November, a leading authority of Saudi Arabia's hardline school of Islam condemned camel beauty contests as evil, saying those involved should seek repentance from Allah.

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