Miss Universe brands reports of Saudi Arabia's participation 'false and misleading'

Organisers deny beauty queen's claims, but say candidates for franchise holders are currently being 'vetted'

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The Miss Universe Organisation denied reports Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part for the first time.

"We would like to categorically state that no selection process has been conducted in Saudi Arabia, and any such claims are false and misleading," reads a statement on the website of the long-running beauty contest.

"The selection of contestants to represent their respective countries in the Miss Universe competition is a rigorous process that adheres strictly to our policies and guidelines. Each country's selection is carried out in accordance with established criteria and regulations, ensuring fairness and transparency in the selection of participants."

It adds: "While Saudi Arabia is not yet among those countries fully confirmed participating this year, we are currently undergoing a rigorous vetting process qualifying a potential candidate to be awarded the franchise and assigned a national director to represent.

"Saudi Arabia will not have this opportunity to join our prestigious pageant until this is final and confirmed by our approval committee."

Last month, beauty queen Rumy Alqahtani announced on her Instagram that she will be Saudi Arabia's first representative at the Miss Universe pageant.

"Honoured to participate in Miss Universe 2024. This is the first participation of Saudi Arabia in the Miss Universe competition," Alqahtani posted, along with a photo of herself with a Saudi flag and a sash that read "Miss Universe Saudi Arabia".

The post grabbed headlines around the world, with many saying the news was another step forward in Saudi Arabia's changing social and cultural landscape.

On her Instagram profile, Alqahtani also claims to be the winner of other beauty titles including Miss Saudi Arabia, Miss Arab Peace, Miss Woman Saudi Arabia and Miss Europe Saudi Arabia.

While Egypt and Lebanon are represented at the contest, Bahrain is the only country in the GCC to participate in Miss Universe.

More than 100 contestants are set to take part in this year's Miss Universe, now in its 73rd year, to be held in Mexico. Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua, who won the Miss Universe 2023 crown in El Salvador in November will crown her successor, but a date for the event has not been announced.

"We are committed to showcasing diversity and inclusivity on our global stage, celebrating the beauty and talents of women from all walks of life," Miss Universe said.

"We look forward to a successful and exciting edition of Miss Universe in Mexico, and we extend our best wishes to all the contestants as they prepare to embark on this incredible journey."

Updated: April 02, 2024, 2:42 PM