Lujane Yacoub says she will 'wave the Bahrain flag proudly' at Miss Universe

The actress and model is the third beauty queen from the country to participate in the global contest

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Self-belief and persistence are what Lujane Yacoub believes earned her the Miss Universe Bahrain 2023 crown.

She's hoping these qualities will also take her far at the global Miss Universe pageant, one of the longest-running and most popular beauty contests, to be held this year in El Salvador.

The actress and model from the northern town of Hamala beat nine other finalists to the title on Saturday night. She will become the third beauty queen to represent Bahrain at Miss Universe in November, after Manar Nadeem Deyani in 2021 and Evlin Khalifa in 2022. Once again, she will be the only woman from the Gulf.

Yacoub, who placed second at the Miss Universe Bahrain pageant last year, tells The National she's glad she decided to give the competition another shot. “Throughout this year, and through my experience competing last year, I have been preparing. And it’s just a testament to maintaining that self-belief and keeping that unwavering persistence towards your goals,” she says.

“I feel extremely honoured and I’m ready to take on the responsibility. On the Miss Universe stage, I promise to wave the Bahrain flag proudly.”

Born to a Bahraini father and American mother, Yacoub says she believes she can be a great representation for her beloved country.

“I joined last year because of the beautiful opportunity of new life experiences. But coming back this year, I had the conviction that I could be a voice for my people, a voice for young women in the Gulf,” she says.

“I promise that I will prepare extensively to represent the Gulf in the highest respect that our region deserves. The Arab world needs more positive representation, and I’m glad that I get to contribute to that goal.”

Yacoub hopes to do so by helping to correct misconceptions about women in Bahrain and the Gulf.

“Women in Bahrain are empowered and encouraged to succeed. This is contrary to the misconception that women are oppressed here. There is such a wealth of culture, history, faith and family values here too, and each of those things deserves to be showcased to a global audience,” she says.

At 19, Yacoub was also the youngest contestant at the pageant. But she's already quite the achiever. A passionate cosplayer, she's been using her social media platform to promote Hero Project, through which she helps children in special needs schools and those recovering in hospitals to discover the joys of dressing up as their favourite characters.

Having starred in three films, Yacoub is set to head to the UK next year to study film and theatre. Currently an art student, she also volunteers as an art teacher at a community centre in Bahrain.

“Because I struggled with traditional subjects in school, but excelled in art, I hope to empower other young artists who need to find a win in life,” she says. “I’ve got so much I want to do.”

For now though, all her time will be focused on preparing for the Miss Universe pageant in November. More than 50 countries have announced their representatives, but plenty more national contests are yet to take place.

A total of 83 countries were represented at the Miss Universe 2022. The next winner will be named on November 18, when reigning Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel from the US will pass on the crown.

“Representing both Bahrain and the Gulf is such an honour and I will work hard to be worthy of the title and represent the characteristics of Bahrain that make it unique,” Yacoub says. “I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

Updated: September 04, 2023, 9:05 AM