Why People Are Kissing Camels On Social Media

Doesn't seem like a good idea

A boy kissing a camel

@drrdob / Twitter

Health authorities in Saudi Arabia recently warned people to stay away from (sick) camels and to avoid raw camel meat and milk, after research suggested that the animals carry Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral respiratory illness that has sickened at least 571 and killed 171 people, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus has been found in a large portion of Saudi camels, and MERS antibodies have even been found in Spanish camels.

Rejecting that warning, some have instead seized upon the occasion to canoodle with their camels, posting photos and videos to social media services like Twitter.

الله يستر من فيروس كورونا ولكن ما نقدر نصبر عن الابل لها محبة خاصة والصورة تغني عن الكلام . pic.twitter.com/urHIUzlr5J — نواف الحدباء (@nawaf4908) May 9, 2014

It seems like a strange protest, but there's something behind it. As noted by the Washington Post:

For some in Saudi Arabia, avoiding camels is not such an easy task. One study from 2008 found that there were almost 900,000 camels in Saudi Arabia alone, with almost 15 million across other Arab states. The animals are a source of income for a large number of people, and popular too. "Camels in the kingdom are like dairy cows, beef cows, racehorses, pulling horses, beloved Labradors, and living daily reminders of holy scripture, all in one," Cynthia Gorney wrote for the National Geographic this week, noting that camels are featured honorably in the Koran. Partly due to this fondness for camels, and partly due to a perceived lack of transparency from the Saudi government about MERS, a lot of people aren't totally convinced by the warnings about camels. Reuters reported from a Saudi camel market on Sunday and noted that only one person was wearing a mask as recommended. Some farmers are pointing out they have worked with camels for decades with no ill health.

Well, there you have it. I can't say I blame camel farmers for being upset by the news, but if you are a camel farmer and get your camel-caressing advice from _Popular Science_--I would advise against such dromedary camaraderie for now.

Below is a video of a man kissing one of his camels, "pouring scorn on the warnings to be cautious with the animals," according to Gulf News. "Do sneeze in my face," he said as he hugged one camel, according to a translation by the site. "They claim camels carry the coronavirus,” he sarcastically added.