Abu Dhabi: More than 135 Salukis out of nearly 190 dogs have been approved to take part in the fourth annual Saluki Beauty Contest at the International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

"I only approved 138 of the hunting hounds because the rest were too skinny," said Hamad Ganem Al Ganem, Director, Breeder and Registrar General of the Arabian Saluki Centre.

"Before entering the competition a medical check-up is done on each hound and we put into consideration the dog's muscles, weight, hygiene and health," said the Saluki breeder, who added that the average weight of a Saluki is 26 kilos.

The contest is being held under the International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition - Abu Dhabi 2009 (Adihex). Al Ganem said the contest is for Saluki owners to showcase their precious hounds on an international stage.

Salukis are hunting hounds that originally hailed from the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The breed comes in two varieties: smooth skinned ones called Al Hess with short fur all over their bodies, and Al Reashi, which have long silky fur fringes on their ears, tails and rear of limbs.

During the contest's first day, four smooth skinned Salukis were selected, two of which were male and two female. Another four silky fur ones were selected, two of which were male.

"We still have two more days to go and we will filter the selection and offer the top two final prizes on Saturday. Prize money will be offered to those winners," said Al Ganem.

A beige coloured male Saluki named Barq, who is 15 months old, came first in the smooth skinned contest yesterday. A first prize ribbon was placed around his collar while his caretaker Thilo Weber, a sales manager, received a crystal trophy.

"I was told Barq won due to his fitness, hunting capabilities, dynamic energy and spontaneity. We mainly train him daily on how to run and hunt and trap rabbits without killing them," Weber told Gulf News.

The other male smooth Saluki, a three-year-old named Onsi with a black coat, came second.

"We train Onsi daily. He's excellent in running, obedient and despite the hot weather conditions he listens," said Ravi, his trainer.

Al Ganem explained that both dogs were selected due to their quality.

"I can bring 100 Salukis if I want to, but only the ones well taken care of, groomed properly and who are healthy get to win," he said.

Will you be visiting the exhibition? Should more of such exhibitions be held in the UAE?