Get to know Navid Naghavi, the winner of Mr Dubai 2014

The 26-year-old winner talks about his stint at the pageant and his plans for a career in film.
The Dubai-based Iranian Navid Naghavi is a model. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Dubai-based Iranian Navid Naghavi is a model. Antonie Robertson / The National

Navid Naghavi is no stranger to the glare of the spotlight. A freelance model by profession, he thrives from the attention that comes with being a catwalk regular.

But since winning the title of Mr Dubai on December 12, things have become even more hectic for the 26-year-old.

“Yeah, it’s nice that people notice you everywhere,” he says. “But I’m still the same old Navid to my friends and my family. I’m still the same person with the same heart.”

Naghavi is of Iranian descent but was born and raised in Dubai, where he studied for a bachelor of commerce at the University of Wollongong.

He started modelling at the age of 22, but competing in the Mr Dubai competition was never part of his plan.

“I was at a fashion show and I saw my friend,” he says. “He started talking about the pageant and encouraged me to give it a try. My friend felt good about my chances right from the start. I went to the screening and was accepted.”

Joe Hernandez, the founder of Mr Dubai, says Naghavi was an instant favourite with the crowd.

“He is the total package,” says Hernandez. “He is the tallest [6 feet 1.5 inches] among the contestants and he is fashionable and smart, and was fully relaxed all throughout the pageant, which is saying a lot about his confidence.”

Still, the competition was intense. After the initial screening, the hopefuls had to go through a qualifying round to advance to the finals. Yet there was a strong sense of camaraderie, says Navid.

“I found great friends in the competition and all of them are really talented,” he says. “So more than just winning, I’m glad that I made new friends. Joining the pageant allows you to meet different people from different countries and I think that’s the main essence of Mr Dubai.”

Given this attitude, it comes as no surprise to learn that Naghavi was voted Mr Congeniality by his fellow pageant contestants. He returns the compliment by giving credit to his fellow contestants.

“They are all deserving to win,” he says. “I’m sure the judges had a hard time choosing who to pick.”

For Hernandez, the real objective of the pageant is to foster this kind of brotherhood.

“We want to promote a spirit of unity among various nationalities,” he says. “Mr Dubai is a good platform to show friendship and harmony among men from diverse backgrounds.”

But there also has to be a victor and the feeling of winning was “surreal”, says Naghavi, who had to defeat 18 rivals to lift the title.

“It was great and hard to describe,” he says. “What I remember is seeing my family and friends all looking very happy.”

For the past three years, the male pageant has proved instrumental in helping participants pursue the dream of entering show business.

A perfect example of this is Abhijeet Rahane who, after winning the title in 2011, returned to his native India to become an actor.

Winning Mr Dubai has also inspired Naghavi to dream big.

“My plan is to become an actor or an international model,” he says.

There is already an offer of an acting job in Iran. “I’m still waiting to see what happens,” he says. “Hopefully, it pushes through.”

The thought of building a career in Iran is an exciting possibility for Naghavi, who says The Fast and the Furious is his favourite movie and Tom Cruise is his favourite actor.

“I was in Iran last in 2013 and I stayed there for one month,” he says. “In terms of our movie industry, it is good that we are growing and that some of our movies are being screened and recognised abroad. Of course, I’ll be glad to be part of that industry.”

A lead role in a movie is only one of his aspirations. Another is to go back to school to study for an MBA degree.

“Again, it is still uncertain at this moment. For now, I’ll keep on doing modelling – I love it and it’s part of my life.”

Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM


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