Supporters of Debanjali Kamstra, the first to represent the UAE at the Mrs World pageant, now have the chance to help her be among the top 15 finalists at the annual competition. The pageant, to be held in Las Vegas on January 15, bills itself as an event that "celebrates the uniqueness of married women” and has been held since 1984.
Kamstra, 35, an Indian businesswoman who’s called the UAE home for the past 13 years, will be among 72 contestants who will compete for the crown.
"Sending me to the top 15 will be such a great message to the world about the UAE's inclusivity and diversity," she tells The National. "We've recently celebrated 50 years as a nation and have achieved such great things, and this will remind everyone about the country's open mindedness and welcoming nature.
"I fee this is my own nation and if all people living in the country have the same feeling, irrespective of their nationalities, we can achieve even greater things. [Voting for me] will show the world that the UAE is all about empowering women, and how inclusive the expats feel in this country."
A former cabin crew with Emirates, Kamstra is also an architect and opened her first interior design business, Veloche, in Dubai a decade ago. She has since started two more companies, one selling home interiors and the other dealing in healthy snacks and drinks.
She married her husband, Christiaan, in 2012 and the couple live in Dubai with their two daughters, Victoria, 6, and Tiffany, 5.
Ahead of the January pageant, she's been working overtime on her advocacies, with her work with people of determination being a prime focus. In November, she visited Sharjah's Al Ibtisama Centre for People With Disabilities and earlier this month joined students at the Dubai Centre for Special Needs for UAE National Day celebrations. Through her interior design company, Kamstra is also working with Manzil, a non-profit focusing on social inclusion of people of determination in Sharjah, to help students of the centre sell their paintings.
Mrs UAE is also working to provide employment opportunities for people with determination in her companies.
Kamstra, who is travelling to the US on December 26, is wearing a national costume inspired by the falcon, the UAE's national bird. To be unveiled on the night of the pageant, the dress is being designed by Filipino designer Cary Santiago, whose creation, worn by Philippines' contestant Gazini Ganados, won the best national costume at the Miss Universe pageant in 2019.
"I have a passion for anything that takes flight, especially birds, so I could not say no to it," Santiago told The National last month. "The plan is for Debanjali to stand out. She is already a very beautiful and stunning lady and we just want to make sure that the dresses will accentuate her [quality of] being an empowered woman.
"She has a very lovely personality and great personal style and she is a woman of substance, so, as a designer, I want to highlight that by using and leaning towards the different hues of gold, [and also with] Dubai being the city of gold. This will be a very beautiful collaboration between the two of us."