Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa wears abayas as beauty pageant begins

She was dressed in robes by designers Dubai Harvey Cenit and Irena Soprano

Powered by automated translation

Evlin Khalifa has said she is committed to dressing modestly throughout the 71st annual Miss Universe competition.

Delegates from all over the world, including Miss Universe Bahrain, have arrived in New Orleans, where the beauty pageant is under way, with the final to take place next Saturday.

To arrive in the Big Easy, Khalifa wore a modern black and white abaya by designer in Dubai Harvey Cenit.

"My presence here in Miss Universe is about representation and I would like to pay respect and homage to our traditional wear called abaya," Khalia said on arrival, also explaining the history and significance of the robe.

Khalifa chose another modern-style abaya, designed by Dubai brand Sol Angelann by Irena Soprano, to attend orientation day with Miss Universe president Paula Shugart, as well as the rest of the pageant participants.

Committed to modest dress

On social media, Khalifa revealed how she's committed to being modestly dressed throughout the competition.

"Modest fashion is power," she wrote in a caption on Instagram alongside a photo of herself in the floor-length black abaya. "I want to show the universe that women can be whoever she wants to be by expressing herself in her most comfortable outfits.

"For me, modest fashion is more than just what the religion dictates you to wear, it’s about choices and comfortability. We should keep our minds open that some girls choose to wear modest outfits and still they can look equally gorgeous."

There are several rounds in the pageant, where Khalifa will be wearing different ensembles for each. She has already revealed that she will wear an all-gold outfit by Dubai label Amato in the national dress segment.

"I am so honoured to be able to be dressed in a real gold-plated dress by Amato," she recently told The National. "I believe that Bahrain is like gold, it shines at any given time but more importantly, like gold, it’s a story of hope, hard work and transformation."

Another element of the pageant is the swimwear round, and Khalifa’s Miss Bahrain predecessor, Manar Nadeem Deyani, made history when she took to the stage during the 2021 Miss Universe pageant wearing a modest activewear look instead of a bikini. For her own showing, Khalifa will also be modestly dressed and, crucially, her decision is fully supported by the pageant.

“Fortunately, the Miss Universe organisation respects our tradition and our culture, so of course, they allow us to be covered or not covered, which is what I really respect about this organisation. So, I will be in a burkini. I respect all the girls who wear the bikini, but I want to show the world that a woman who is covered can also be beautiful.”

New Orleans daily diary

The beauty queen from Riffa departed from Dubai on Tuesday, heading to the US wearing a long, blue-feathered couture jacket by Furne One over blue jeans.

It's been a busy few days as Khalifa was also chosen as one of nine delegates to perform at the New Orleans Jazz Club, where the pianist and singer played Canal Street Blues by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band.

She's also been chosen by the beauty and make-up brand of Miss Universe to star in their advertisements.

“A lot of people are saying I don’t fit a Miss Universe winner template," she wrote on social media ahead of her departure. "They say that I am just a pretty face but lack in height, don’t know how to answer a pageant question, doesn’t show much skin. So many feedback that sometimes I go back and listen to it.

“I came here in Miss Universe with a different purpose. I want to be the voice for women who are afraid to show themselves because society has already made a judgment without even knowing them, because they lack the certain standards and stereotypes that they have moulded in their minds. I want to tell them the stories and histories of Arabian women — how they fight and live their lives to the fullest."

Who is Evlin Khalifa?

Khalifa, 24, was crowned Miss Bahrain in September. She is a trained pianist and model who was born to a Russian mother and Bahraini father. She has the honour of being only the second beauty queen to represent the kingdom at Miss Universe.

She follows in the footsteps of Deyani, who last year made history by participating on her country's behalf for the first time.

"This is the best moment in my life," Khalifa previously told The National. "When I was crowned, I felt so blessed, so honoured and so happy. I am very thankful for all of the support and trust, and I feel like it is my birthday, but even better."

Scroll through the gallery below to see Miss Universe Bahrain make her major runway debut for Furne One

The 71st Miss Universe pageant

Miss Universe is one of the longest-running and most-watched beauty competitions in the world; it is broadcast in 165 countries and seen by more than half a billion people annually.

The National was one of the first to report about the postponement of the 2022 event. While Miss Universe 2021 was crowned in December, the 2022 event was postponed reportedly to avoid a clash with the Fifa World Cup.

The new date means two Miss Universe pageants are likely to be held this year — the first in January to crown the 2022 winner and the second one later in the year to crown Miss Universe 2023.

Close to 90 delegates are set to take part in the pageant and the current titleholder is Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, from India.

Miss Universe 2022 beauty queens crowned, from Turkey to Italy and Kyrgyzstan — in pictures

Updated: January 09, 2023, 6:36 AM