A Dubai company has won the franchise rights to host Miss Universe Pakistan, and will be responsible for sending a representative to the next global pageant.
Yugen Group, which already owns the Miss Universe Bahrain franchise, said it will be the first time Pakistan is represented at Miss Universe, one of the longest-running and most-watched beauty competitions in the world.
“I want to express my gratitude to Miss Universe Organisation for giving me the opportunity to open new doors to millions of Pakistani women globally," said Yugen Group owner Josh Yugen, who will also serve as the national director. "I believe women in Pakistan are empowered with their beautiful culture, purposeful advocacies and brave souls — not to mention that the women from Pakistan are one of the most stunning women in the world."
The 72nd Miss Universe is set to be held in El Salvador to crown the 2023 winner. Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel won the 2022 crown at a glitzy event in New Orleans in January. Last year's event was postponed to avoid a clash with the Fifa World Cup.
The Yugen group has already sent two contestants from Bahrain to the Miss Universe pageant. Miss Universe Bahrain 2021, Manar Nadeem Deyani, made waves during the event's swimsuit round, where she competed fully covered in a flowing activewear outfit.
Deyani's successor, Evlin Khalifa, who beat more than 300 applicants to win the Miss Universe Bahrain 2022 title, was also praised for her powerful statement about representation during the swimsuit round when she made an appearance in a pink burkini.
While the swimsuit competition exists, it is not mandatory for contestants to wear them
The Miss Universe Organisation made the historic decision to no longer limit the contest to single women last year and, for the first time in 71 years, applicants can be single, married, divorced or mothers.
The organisation, which was recently acquired by Thai millionaire Anne Jakrajutatip, said it was a move to evolve with the times.
"We all believe that women should have agency over their lives and that a human's personal decisions should not be a barrier to their success," a memo sent to national directors said.
Yugen said he won the franchises for both pageants following "weeks of bidding".
"It is our utmost honour to create a path for young women, both from Bahrain and Pakistan to find their happiness, achieve their dreams and shine with their purpose,” Yugen, who is originally from the Philippines, said.
Ian Borromeo, the managing director of Yugen Group and Miss Universe Bahrain organisation, added: "The Miss Universe Bahrain and Miss Universe Pakistan organisations hope to find a woman who is armoured with her purpose in life and wishes to use her platform to amplify her purpose and advocacies.
The window for Miss Universe Bahrain applications closes on March 20, while details for Miss Universe Pakistan will be announced soon on the official Instagram page instagram.com/missuniversepakistan.