Miss Palestine wins big in Miss Earth 2022 pageant as South Korea takes main crown

Contestants representing 86 countries participated in the annual beauty competition

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Mina Sue Choi, a communications student representing South Korea, has won the Miss Earth 2022 crown, beating 85 other contestants from around the world at a gala event in Manila.

The contest places "elemental" titles on the rest of the finalists — Miss Fire, Miss Water and Miss Air. Nadeen Ayoub, who made history as the first person to represent Palestine in the Miss Earth contest, was crowned Miss Earth Water.

The environment-focused pageant is one of the Big Four beauty contests, the others being Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International. It has been held mostly in the Philippines since its beginning in 2001, although Vienna and Bali have also hosted in the past.

Contestants of Miss Earth 2022 began arriving in Okada Manila, the casino resort and hotel complex, on November 12, with all 86 presented at an event on November 14. However, preliminary events have been held virtually since October 24.

Last year's winner Destiny Wagner from Belize, the first woman from her country to win a major international pageant, passed on her crown to Choi a the event held at Cove Manila. Both Miss Earth 2020 and 2021 were held virtually, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ayoub, a fitness coach, nutrition consultant and entrepreneur, was a favourite to win, advancing to the final four. She was one of only two Arabs in the competition, along with Jihan Majid, 20, who represented Iraq.

The decisive final question for the final four was: "What is one thing you want to right in this world and how would you right it?"

"I would want to fight the ignorance and selfishness of people," Ayoub said, drawing loud cheers. "Because I think that is the main problem that we are facing today, with all of the issues including environmental catastrophes, which are made by humans.

"It starts with education," she added. "That's how we can solve the selfishness and ignorance that we see today, and save planet Earth."

South Korea's candidate and Miss Earth 2022 winner Mina Sue Choi. AFP

Andrea Aguilera of Colombia was crowned Miss Earth Fire, while Sheridan Mortlock from Australia was named Miss Earth Air.

The first on-ground preliminary competition was the swimsuit round on November 16, which was jointly won by Esther Ajayi of Nigeria, Aguilera of Colombia, Liliya Levaya of Belarus and Choi of South Korea.

Choi became an early favourite, also winning the beachwear competition, as well as the long gown competition. She also placed third in the resort wear competition, which was won by Oriana Pablos of Venezuela.

Choi shares the beachwear top prize with Aguilera of Colombia, Daniela Riquelme of Chile and Jessica Pedroso of Brazil; and the long gown competition winner's title with Chile's Riquelme, Sheyla Ravelo of Cuba and Susan Toledo of Ecuador.

Nigeria's Ajayi shares the top prize in the talent competition with Ekaterina Velmakina of Russia, Cuba's Ravelo and Alannah Larkin of Ireland.

Miss Earth takes its advocacy about environmental awareness and conservation seriously, with reigning titleholders dedicating their year to promoting specific projects. Each Miss Earth winner becomes a spokeswoman for the Miss Earth Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme and commits to working with the World Wildlife Fund.

At this year's pageant, the theme was ME Loves Fauna "to emphasise the importance of caring for animal life", organisers said.

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Updated: November 29, 2022, 4:24 PM