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Miss Universe Bahrain shining bright

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Bahrain witnessed a breathtaking display of beauty, intelligence, and grace as the much-awaited Miss Universe Bahrain pageant culminated in a glorious finale. The event celebrated empowered women who encapsulate the spirit, diversity, and aspirations of the nation. With each contestant radiating individuality and poise, there was fierce competition, but one shone brighter than the rest, earning the coveted title of Miss Universe Bahrain – LUJANE YACOUB.

The Arab-American actor, dancer, and model secured the crown a year after she placed second at the annual beauty pageant. The 19-year-old, youngest contestant at the pageantry, won the hearts of the jury at the Mirihi Island Resort, Maldives, with her amazing response to a question on ‘the biggest misconception’ about her country.

“The biggest misconception about Bahrain and the Middle East is that it’s a place of oppression [and] that women don’t have rights,” said Lujane.

Lujane with her father

“And this is far from the truth. Women are taught to thrive, to embrace their strengths, and to go for their ambitions, and women are the true pearls of the country. And that would be my first goal as Miss Universe: to clear up this misconception.”

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Lujane will go on to represent the country at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador later in the year. The first and second runners-up were Advaita Shetty and Tuhina Carrol, respectively. The women were among the seven finalists, along with Mariam Naji, Mary Mohamed, Menatalla Husein, and Nivine Abouzeid.

Tuhina Carrol

In an exclusive interview with Bahrain This Week, the winners echoed that the journey to the crown was equally fulfilling and rewarding.

“This prestigious title comes with great responsibility,” said Lujane. “I vow to utilise this platform to uplift and empower women, not only in Bahrain but across the globe. Together, we can create a world where every woman can flourish and achieve her dreams.”

Lujane, born to a Bahraini father from the Kanoo family and an American mother, expressed her thanks to all who helped her achieve this crown, adding that her journey with fellow contestants was a “celebration of friendship and camaraderie”.

Advaita Shetty

Advaita, who came second in the contest, is a 28-year-old clinical audiology student of Indian origin. “I feel fulfilled because I do believe I gave it my best, and you have to leave it to God for rest,” she said. “I’m very honoured to be recognised for the first runner-up position. It is one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime. From getting to work with some great mentors to learning from the best to meeting such beautiful queens and getting to travel the Maldives, it was a once-in-a lifetime experience.”

Tuhina, who secured third place, is a flight attendant with the national carrier, Gulf Air.

“I’ve gone on record saying that it has been a larger-than-life experience,” said the 28-year-old.

“I truly believe that the Tuhina who filled out that application for the pageant and the Tuhina today are two very different people—I’m more confident, more comfortable with myself, and a person with more grit after all these months. There was a lot of belief shown in me by the national director, Josh, and everyone who came together for this pageant. It taught me grace, it made me more grateful, and it also taught me that your authentic self is the most beautiful thing about you. I’d never forget a single day of this journey, and it’s a keepsake in my eyes till my very end.”

The pageant saw the presence of esteemed judges, including Egyptian actress Mai Omar, Moroccan actress Leila Hadioui, Filipino singer and former Now United member Bailey May, Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela, and Miss Universe Bahrain 2022, Elvin Khalifa. Candidates were scored based on five segments of the competition, including the personal interview, activewear round, swimwear round, evening gown round, and the final question round. “We are very honoured to crown our new Miss Universe Bahrain 2023 with our goal of celebrating a platform that gives a voice to the empowerment of young women, to highlight their incredible and innovative contribution to our society, and to inspire other women to break stereotypes not only in the GCC but all throughout the world,” said Josh Yugen, owner and national director of Miss Universe Bahrain.

Bahrain is the only country in the GCC to participate in the annual pageant. The contest was open to women between 18 and 28 years of age, and for the first time in 71 years, applicants could be single, married, divorced, or mothers—a move by the Miss Universe Organisation last year to evolve with the times.

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