Miss Bahrain Manar Nadeem Deyani received loud cheers during the swimsuit round of the Miss Universe 2021 pageant, when she walked out on stage in a fully-covered flowing activewear outfit on Friday. The televised preliminary competition also featured all 80 contestants in their national dresses as well as evening gowns.
The global beauty pageant, which is being held in Eilat, Israel this year, crowned India's Harnaaz Sandhu its 70th winner on Sunday.
Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the preliminary competition at the Miss Universe 2021 contest.
"Today I walked not just alone but with the millions of women who believe that in this generation the only standard of beauty should be the light that is sparkling from within. Anyone can shine as long they have the heart to serve with purity, compassion and kindness," Deyani said in a message to The National right after the event.
The aspiring fashion designer and Dubai resident also showcased a pearl-inspired gown in the national costume round – an ode to her country's pearl-diving heritage – and a pastel-coloured evening gown by Pakistani-Canadian designer Safia Zulfiqar.
"It was an honour for me to design for Miss Universe Bahrain because besides her beauty, she reflects so much humility and power of love," Zufiqar, who lives in Dubai, told The National. "And being from this region, I truly believe that a respectful appearance is sufficient to draw all to the beauty of the soul. To me, Jess is truly a winner in breaking stereotypes of beauty and has paved the way for all future contestants of diversity."
Deyani, who is known as Jess to her friends, made history in November when she was named the first-ever beauty queen from Bahrain at the Miss Universe contest.
"I may be the shortest candidate in the history of Miss Universe, but I stand tall representing a country of love, peace and kindness – your first ever Miss Universe Bahrain," the 155-centimetre tall Deyani posted on Instagram, announcing her participation on November 29.
The Miss Universe pageant has been held despite Israeli authorities putting a ban on the entry for foreigners in an effort to stave off the Omicron coronavirus variant. Participants were granted waivers and undergo PCR testing every 48 hours, the country's tourism minister said.
"This is an event that will be broadcast in 174 countries, a very important event, an event that Eilat, too, is very much in need of," Minister Yoel Razvozov said last month. "We will know how to manage this event. So, by using the waivers committee, we will have events like this, to which the country already committed itself and cannot cancel."
– This article was first published on December 11, 2021