Businesswoman Debanjali Kamstra is the new Mrs Earth.
She is the first woman to represent the UAE at the global competition and beat 45 others to this year's title.
“It's so overwhelming,” Kamstra, 36, tells The National. "And I couldn't believe that I would be the person that will bring this crown to the UAE. And on top of that, this is the year of sustainability, which is a big, big thing for us.
“I'm feeling grateful. And I'm feeling very happy, successful. I want to be one of the winners who can be an inspiration for many other girls and many other kids who want to represent their country.”
The environmental-focused Mrs Earth contest is not affiliated with Miss Earth, which has been held since 2001.
Last year, Kamstra became the first woman to represent the UAE at the Mrs World contest, which the organisation says “celebrates the uniqueness of married women”. The beauty queen, who is originally from India and a mother of two, has lived in the UAE for 15 years.
She was among 72 contestants vying for the crown, and was named second runner-up. Mrs America Shaylyn Ford won the contest, followed by Mrs Jordan Jaclyn Stapp as the first runner-up.
Kamstra says that falling short of winning didn’t deter her from wanting to try again and that her past pageantry experience greatly helped.
“The time was so short from the time of winning to the global pageant that I did not get enough time to prepare as much as I did for Mrs World,” she says. “But thank God all the training I had for Mrs World was instilled within my system. So it was easy for me to work walk on stage, however, it was a lot of pressure.”
She only had a few days to prepare for Mrs Earth and used the same national costume she wore for Mrs World. Filipino designer Cary Santiago, who created the falcon-inspired dress, previously told The National it was a nod to the UAE's national bird as well as Dubai's reputation as a “city of gold”.
Kamstra will soon begin her duties, which include championing sustainability and the environment as well as doing charity work. Although she says she isn't revealing her future plans just yet, she says she is confident the platform is one that the UAE will be proud of.
Now that she is Mrs Earth, she has also shared her advice for other women looking to follow in her footsteps. She says it is important to remember competing is more than merely looks.
“It’s not just wearing a crown and looking beautiful and standing on stage and smiling at the camera," she says. "There are a lot of other things you must remember that you need to perform to be there.
“All the pageants in the world come with beauty and brains and definitely a personality.
"So please, when you want to become a queen, you must build a vision for yourself. Don't just come to a pageant just because you want to have screen time.
"Come to a pageant with a vision, with a target and make sure that your target and vision are fulfilled when you definitely get that opportunity to wear that crown.”