Egypt returns to Miss Universe, with help of a Filipino maverick
MANILA, Philippines—After skipping three editions of the Miss Universe pageant, Egypt will be back in the global competition, thanks to a Filipino publicist and magazine publisher who secured the North African country’s franchise for the global tilt.
Josh Yugen, the national director of the Miss Universe Bahrain organization for three years now, who has also acquired the license to conduct a search in Pakistan, announced that he has also secured the right to choose Egypt’s delegate to the 72nd Miss Universe pageant happening in El Salvador later this year.
“There was Miss Universe Egypt before, and they actually stopped it for three years, I guess. But they’re very, very excited to come back,” Yugen told a select group of pageant writers and online content creators at the sidelines of the Sigma Asia 2023 summit held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City last July 21.
The last time an Egyptian woman competed in the Miss Universe pageant was in 2019, when model Diana Hamed represented the “Jewel of the Nile” in the international contest’s 68th edition held in the United States. Filipino queen Catriona Gray crowned her successor Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa at the culmination of the competition.
No Egyptian woman has ever captured the Miss Universe title. And Yugen is optimistic that Egypt will make a huge comeback in the competition this year. “I cannot say anything more about it because we are still in the process. But we already received hundreds of beautiful women who auditioned,” he shared.
He also did not disclose when he will crown the new Egyptian queen, but offered updates on his two other competitions. “Sept. 2 will be the finals for Miss Universe Bahrain, it will be shown on the Miss Universe YouTube channel. Pakistan is in the second week of September,” Yugen said.
As he revealed in an earlier interview, the Bahrain search will employ a reality competition format. But it will no longer be held in the Philippines. “It will be shot in Bahrain, and a few scenes will be shot in an exclusive island. Unfortunately, we cannot shoot in the Philippines because of the logistics, it’s a bit far,” he explained.
His Pakistan search will also follow the same format, he said, and he is already looking for the best locations to shoot in the South Asian nation, with the help of his Pakistani partner in the organization. “I’m very excited about it,” Yugen said.
He said conducting a reality competition is consistent with the Miss Universe Organization’s (MUO) thrust to innovate in the world of pageantry. Responding to a question from INQUIRER.net, Yugen said, “Miss Universe is a leading legacy brand when it comes to innovation. Before mothers cannot join, wives cannot join, but now they can join pageants. And I feel that Miss Universe is open to changes and flexibility. I cannot speak on behalf of [MUO], but they’re actually welcoming when it comes to innovation.”
Yugen also tapped several other Filipino personalities to join him in the Miss Universe Bahrain organization. Actress and 2016 Miss International Kylie Verzosa is the head of empowerment, international award-winning filmmaker Brillante Mendoza is the artistic director, Lorenzo Vega is the head of innovation, and celebrity Raymond Gutierrez is the fashion director.
“I’m thinking that, if ever there’s someone that I can trust, probably I can actually give the national director position to them, especially someone from Bahrain, someone from Pakistan, someone from Egypt, and I can just help supervise or oversee it. But right now, only a few are interested, and I cannot entrust my girls to just anyone,” Yugen shared. /ra