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Camel beauty pageant to be held in Abu Dhabi from December 14-21

A week-long camel beauty pageant in Abu Dhabi emirate will begin on December 14, instead of December 23 as originally planned, according to the official WAM news agency.

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Contestants at the Madinat Zayed Camel Beauty Pageant, part of the annual Al Dhafra Festival, will be judged on their physical attributes.

Purebred camels from the Asayel and Majaheem bloodlines will take part.

Prize money for the four camel beauty pageants at the Al Dhafra Festival will total $30 million (AED110 million).

Festival patron Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed increased the prize money to promote the United Arab Emirates’ Bedouin heritage, according to the Abu Dhabi Media Office.

The event will also offer sellers the chance to fetch huge prices for their purebreds through auctions and private sales.

As well as the four beauty pageants, the Al Dhafra Festival will include a litany of traditional Emirati activities.

There will be falconry competitions; nearly 300 Arabian horse, camel, and saluki races; and more than 2,700 prizes for the various contests.

The festival will run until January 22, 2022, in Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi.

It is the 15th incarnation of the festival and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UEA’s founding.

Camel beauty festivals are becoming more common across Gulf states, which are seeking to preserve their cultural heritage as they are catapulted into modernity.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the sixth King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, the world’s largest, around 100 kilometers north of Riyadh.

Prizewinners are expected to take home a total of $66 million (SAR250,000,000).

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North Korea defends close ties with Russia against South Korean criticism at UN

North Korea on Monday slammed South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for criticising its cooperation with Moscow following leader Kim Jong Un’s Russia visit, saying it is “natural” and “normal” for neighbors to keep close relations.

Yoon, speaking at the UN General Assembly last week, said that if Russia helped North Korea enhance its weapons programs in return for assistance for its war in Ukraine, it would be “a direct provocation.”

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In a piece carried by KCNA news agency, the North denounced Yoon for “malignantly” slandering its friendly cooperation with Russia, and said Yoon was serving as a “loudspeaker” for the United States.

“It is quite natural and normal for neighboring countries to keep close relations with each other, and there is no reason to call such practice to account,” it said.

Kim returned home last week from a week-long trip to Russia in which he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to boost military and economic cooperation.

US and South Korean officials have expressed concern that Russia could be trying to acquire ammunition from the North to supplement its dwindling stocks for the war in Ukraine while Pyongyang seeks technological help for its nuclear and missile programs.

Any activities assisting North Korea’s weapons programs are banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

“The foreign policy of the DPRK … will not be tied to anything, and its friendly and cooperative relations with the close neighbors will continue to grow stronger,” the commentary said. DPRK is the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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Niger military leaders welcome news of French army withdrawal

Niger’s military rulers on Sunday welcomed the announcement that France will pull its troops out of the country by the end of the year as “a new step towards sovereignty.”

The statement came hours after French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris would soon withdraw its ambassador from Niger, followed by its military contingent in the coming months.

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“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” said a statement from the country’s military rulers, who seized power in late July by overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

“The French troops and the ambassador of France will leave Nigerien soil by the end of the year.”

The statement, read out on national television, added: “This is a historic moment, which speaks to the determination and will of the Nigerien people.”

Earlier Sunday, before Macron’s announcement, the body regulating aviation safety in Africa (ASECNA), announced that Niger’s military rulers had banned “French aircraft” from flying over the country’s airspace.

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Russian air defense thwarts drone attack near Moscow’s Tula region

Russia’s air defense systems were engaged in repelling a drone attack over the Tula region that borders Moscow’s region to its north, Russia’s RIA news agency reported early Monday.

Citing the ministry of regional security, the agency reported that according to preliminary information, there was no damage or injuries as a result of the attack.

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Two of Moscow’s major airports, however, the Vnukovo and Domedovo, limited air traffic, directing flights to other airports, the TASS state news agency reported.

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