Aspiring beauty queens crashed the Miss Universe UAE website hours after the historic pageant was announced on Thursday.
Josh Yugen, president and national director of Miss Universe UAE, said they’ve now received more than 12,000 applicants for the contest. The auditions are set to take place on Friday.
“We had thousands of applications in the first hour and our website couldn’t handle it,” he tells The National. “I knew we were announcing something historic, but I didn’t expect such a response.”
Yugen, whose company Yugen Events has been chosen to select the first UAE representative for the global beauty contest, says he’s also encouraged by the quality of applications, which also includes a number of Emiratis.
“It just goes to show how so many people have been waiting for such a global platform to come here,” he says. “The pageant has been going on for 70 years and for the first time, we will have a representative from the UAE.”
Paula M Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organisation said last week: “I could not be more pleased to welcome the first-ever representative from the UAE to our globally televised event in December.
"The UAE is marking a very important time in its history, from the signing of the Abraham Accords to hosting the Expo 2020 Dubai, and there has never been a better time to shine a spotlight on the women residing in this country."
Who is eligible for Miss Universe UAE?
Entry for the Miss Universe pageant will not be limited to only UAE citizens. Any resident between the age of 18 and 28, who has lived in the country for more than three years, with a valid Emirates ID and passport, can participate.
Yugen says the Miss Universe Organisation has modified the rules specially for the UAE “to give everyone an opportunity”.
“So many of us call this country home and it will be such a matter of pride to be able to represent it on a global stage. It’s just logical,” he says.
There will also be no fee for registration, he says.
There will be no swimsuit round
While discussing the format of the contest, Yugen says he and his team decided to drop the swimsuit round “out of respect” for the UAE’s culture.
“We just want to showcase a different type of pageantry and want to focus on their personalities and not just make it a parade of beauty. It’s more about benevolence, kindness and purpose,” he says.
Even at the global Miss Universe pageant, the UAE contestant will be free to “wear whatever dress she wants," Yugen says.
“Miss Universe is very welcoming and open-minded and no contestant will be forced to wear outfits they are not comfortable in,” he says.
What happens at the first casting?
The more than 12,000 applicants at the time of writing will be whittled down to 300 before Friday.
The selected 300 will meet a panel of 10 experts, which will include Yugen, designer Furne One of Amato, who will serve as the head of creatives, fashion and design, and former beauty queen Maggie Wilson, who is the creative consultant.
Out of this, 30 candidates will be shortlisted for the live show, to be held on Sunday, November 7.
When will the first Miss Universe UAE be crowned?
The 30 shortlisted candidates will be revealed on Wednesday, October 20, with preliminary rounds held from the next day on Thursday, October 21.
Two shows will be held before the main coronation night, a charity dinner on Thursday, November 4, and a preliminary show on Friday, November 5.
The final show, to be held at La Perle on Sunday, November 7, will be “a very Dubai show” Yugen says.
“It’s going to be fantastic, with performers from La Perle adding to the drama. Out of the 30 contestants, we will immediately announce the Top 15, who will then be cut down to five. For the Top 5, there will be a question and answer round, and then the Top 3 will be announced, followed by the coronation.”
Where will Miss Universe 2021 be held?
The UAE’s Miss Universe will only have a few weeks to prepare for the global contest, set to take place in December in the resort city of Eilat in Israel. While a date has not been confirmed, TV personality Steve Harvey is set to return as host.
The current Miss Universe, Mexico’s Andrea Meza, will crown her successor at the event, which will also mark the pageant’s 70th year.
More information on Miss Universe UAE is here.