Saudi Arabia to participate in Miss Universe pageant for the first time

Rumy Alqahtani, a 27-year-old Riyadh-born model, will be representing Saudi Arabia at pageant

Shahana Yasmin
Thursday 28 March 2024 09:59 GMT
FILE: Miss Universe 2015: Wrong winner crowned

Saudi Arabia will participate in Miss Universe 2024 for the first time in the pageant’s history.

Rumy Alqahtani, a 27-year-old Riyadh-born model and content creator, will represent Saudi Arabia at the pageant.

“I am honoured to participate in the Miss Universe 2024 competition. This marks the first participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Miss Universe pageant,” Alqahtani posted on her Instagram account.

Alqahtani follows Lujane Yacoub, who represented Bahrain in the Miss Universe pageant last year, becoming the first woman from the Gulf region to do so.

The Miss Universe pageant this year will be held in Mexico, and will also see Iran debuting.

Besides being crowned Miss Saudi Arabia, Alqahtani also holds titles of Miss Middle East (Saudi Arabia), Miss Arab World Peace 2021, and Miss Woman (Saudi Arabia). She has represented Saudi Arabia previously in multiple international pageants, including Miss Asia in Malaysia, Miss Arab Peace, and Miss Europe.

Alqahtani has a Bachelor’s degree in dentistry and is fluent in English, French, and Arabic.

The Miss Universe pageant last year featured two transgender women and plus-size model Jane Dipika from Nepal, marking the first time a plus-sized contestant reached the semi-finals.

Sheynnis Palacios was crowned Miss Universe 2023, Nicaragua’s first win at the pageant.

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios is crowned as Miss Universe 2023 (Getty Images)

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud has been behind several changes aimed at bringing social and economic reforms to Saudi Arabia.

Women are permitted to drive, attend public sports events and concerts, and also obtain a passport without the approval of a male guardian. Saudi Arabia has also submitted an official bid for the 2034 Men’s FIFA World Cup, and has hosted several international singers such as BTS, Post Malone, and Mariah Carey, despite criticism that the pop stars were helping whitewash the regime’s human rights violations.

In 2022, Andy Murray refused to play in exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia because of alleged human rights abuses.

“He’s turned down stuff in Saudi and I don’t think he would play there just because of what’s gone on,” said Matt Gentry, Murray’s agent and the co-founder of 77 Sports Management.

Fifa was urged by Amnesty International and other global organisations last year to secure binding commitments to improving human rights in countries due to host the 2030 and 2034 World Cups.

“With only a single bid for each tournament on the table, Fifa may have scored an own goal,” Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said in a statement.

“Fifa must now make clear how it expects hosts to comply with its human rights policies. It must also be prepared to halt the bidding process if serious human rights risks are not credibly addressed.”

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