Miss Universe bets from Bahrain, Egypt weigh in on pageantry at a time of conflict
MANILA, Philippines — War has been making international news for a while now, particularly the ongoing operations between Russia and Ukraine, and the recent escalation of violence in the Gaza strip. But life goes on for beauty contest fans as international competitions still persist amid all the tension.
A couple of Miss Universe delegates sat with INQUIRER.net to share their thoughts about pageantry during a time of international conflict, both of them from countries located just a few miles away from Gaza—Bahrain’s Lujane Yacoub and Egypt’s Mohra Tantawy.
“I would like to, first off, say that my heart goes out to everyone in these very trying times, to all the children going through this instead of enjoying their childhood, instead of enjoying their youth,” Yacoub said in a recent interview in Manila where she trained for the Miss Universe pageant.
“It is a terrible thing. And at the end of the day, there are no winners in a war. And what pageantry can do to remind us is, it showcases the importance of unity. It showcases the importance of peace, of sisterhood, and just bringing people together,” continued the lone delegate from the Arabian Gulf.
Tantawy, whose country shares a border with Gaza, said pageantry offers hope. “We need that sense to keep on pushing forward. And like I’ve said, even when we see the news and there are difficult things happening, and right now there are some awful things happening in the world right now.”
She added: “What we have going to Miss Universe, just sharing our stories and being there, we are showing that we all have a hope for a brighter future with our advocacies, and having our conviction of representing our country.”
Yaboub said pageants unite people “no matter where you’re from, no matter your color. It just shows cases that as long as you put your best case forward, and as long as you accept others, then you can never really go wrong.”
For Tantawy, pageantry allows people to “have that mindset that we can see an exciting future for our world, for the universe. So that is what is important, to realize that there is a brighter side, that there is bright on the other side.”
Both ladies are aiming to become their respective countries’ first Miss Universe winner. Yacoub is just Bahrain’s third representative, and Tantawy is staging a comeback for Egypt after a three-year hiatus in the global tilt.
They are fielded by Dubai-based Filipino marketing practitioner and magazine publisher Josh Yugen, the franchise holder and national director of Miss Universe in the two countries and in Pakistan.
The 2023 Miss Universe pageant will hold its final competition in the El Salvadoran capital of San Salvador on Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila). Michelle Dee is representing the Philippines.