Miss Universe denies claims of Saudi model’s participation

Miss Universe denies claims of Saudi model’s participation
Miss Universe has denied reports that Saudi Arabia will participate in this year's beauty pageant, citing such claims as 'false and misleading'.
2 min read
04 April, 2024
Miss Universe has said that any claims of Saudi Arabia's participation are "false and misleading" [Getty-file photo]

Miss Universe has denied claims that Saudi Arabia will be participating in the annual beauty pageant.

Saudi model Rumy Alqahtani announced last week she would be participating in Miss Universe 2024, making the kingdom's debut appearance in the competition.

In a statement on its site, Miss Universe called the claims "false and misleading", saying that no selection process has been conducted in Saudi Arabia.

"While Saudi Arabia is not yet among those countries fully confirmed participating this year, we are currently undergoing a rigorous vetting process qualifying a potential candidate to be awarded the franchise and assigned a national director to represent," the statement read.

The statement added that the kingdom will not join until the process is finalised and confirmed by its approval committee.

Alqahtani announced her participation on Instagram and said she would become the kingdom's first representative for the international competition.

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"I am honoured to participate in the Miss Universe 2024 competition. This is the debut of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the competition," she said.

The model has competed in many beauty pageants worldwide, including winning Miss Saudi Arabia, Miss Middle East, Miss Arab World Peace, Miss Woman (Saudi Arabia), and most recently, Miss and Mrs Global Asian in Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia has seen a cultural shift under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 plan, which includes a number of social and cultural reforms.

The campaign intends to modernise Saudi Arabia and make it less reliant on its oil-based economy. The fashion and entertainment industries have been part of the efforts to diversify the economy.

However, human rights activists and experts have criticised what they have called the white-washing of human rights abuses in the kingdom, particularly as fashion shows and other forms of entertainment have long been under tight social restrictions in Saudi Arabia. 

Michael Page, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said that celebrities and Hollywood A-listers are "boosting the Kingdom's strategy of whitewashing Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's abuses."

"Saudi citizens and residents should enjoy top-notch entertainment and sporting events, but they should also enjoy basic rights such as free expression and peaceful assembly," he said