Miss Universe contestants showcase glamorous looks in first round of competition

The preliminary rounds will determine who makes it to the semi-finals

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Contestants from 86 countries turned up in their glamorous best as the first round of the Miss Universe contest began on Wednesday in New Orleans.

The preliminary competition, featuring an evening gown round and a swimsuit round, will determine who will make it to the semi-finals, the qualifying contestants for which will be announced early on the final coronation night on Saturday.

A national costume competition was also held separately on Wednesday.

The 71st Miss Universe will crown the 2022 winner as the event was postponed last year. Another competition, to pick the 2023 winner, is expected to be held later this year.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the evening gown competition

Regional representatives this year include Miss Bahrain Evlin Khalifa and Miss Lebanon Yasmina Zaytoun.

Khalifa, 24, made waves in the swimsuit round wearing a burkini and a customised cape with the message: "Arab Women should be represented. Muslim women can also become Miss Universe".

The cape also featured the word "equality" written in Arabic.

For the evening gown round, she wore a glittery silver dress, complete with a head covering, by Filipino designer Furne One, whose Amato label is headquartered in Dubai.

Zaytoun, 20, was crowned Miss Lebanon 2022 in a ceremony in Beirut in July, held for the first time since 2018.

On Wednesday, she wore a glamorous custom gown by Lebanese designer Charbel Zoe featuring glittery frills.

Miss Lebanon Yasmina Zaytoun competes in the evening gown competition during the preliminary round of the 71st Miss Universe. AP

Zaytoun, who is from Kfarchouba, a village in southern Lebanon, is a journalism student and besides modelling, hosts the With Yasmina Show on Instagram, which she describes as an educational show and on which she interviews notable Lebanese media and sports personalities.

In November, the Miss Israel Organisation said it will not send a delegate for the first time in seven decades. Israel hosted the last Miss Universe competition in 2021, in the southern resort city of Eilat, where Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu took home the crown.

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.

Sandhu hosted the preliminary competition on Wednesday along with newscaster Randi Rousseau.

Updated: January 12, 2023, 10:26 AM