Online videos showing Saudi Arabians kissing their camels have gained popularity recently, as citizens filmed their actions in defiance of a government warning to keep away from animals, particularly camels that may be helping to spread the deadly MERS virus.
Authorities called on citizens of the kingdom to wear masks and gloves when touching camels, and recommended avoiding camel meat and camel milk until the spread of the virus had come under control.
Despite an additional suggestion from the government to stay away from all sick animals, many were determined to show their affection for their camels in the video campaign that's been called the 'Statement of Support for Persecuted Camels'.
In one of the videos a man stands next to a few camels and asks the animals to sneeze. "They say that you have a virus," he says as he hugs and kisses the camels.
"Do you have a virus?" he asks and shook the camel's had as if the animal was saying no. "He says no," the man says to the camera.
One of the supporters of the campaign wrote a letter to the Saudi Health Minister calling on him to stop slandering camels or to proved evidence that the animals do in fact spread disease.
More than 500 cases of the MERS virus have been reported since it was first found in 2012. Of that number, 133 have resulted in the patient's death.
Health authorities are still investigating the source of the infection and how it is transmitted, but they have found that transmission from person to person is limited and mostly occurs after direct contact with an infected person or objects with whom he or she had close contact.
Some of the reported cases occurred after people had close contact with animals, in particular camels.