A beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia? Yes!... with actual women participating, a panel of judges a winner and two runners-up.
Welcome to the third annual Saudi “Miss Congeniality” contest, whereby the winning lady isn’t crowned based on looks, measurements or physical beauty; but on her “ethics”.
This year, the pageant took place under the theme “my ethics, my identity” as the event took place on Monday at the grand King Abdullah Ballroom in the Eastern province of Qatif.
The winner, Maram Zaki al-Saif, a was chosen as the new Saudi “Queen of Ethics” after her notable piety apparently had a mesmerising affect on the panel.
In addition to the title, Saif handed in an award worth approximately ten thousand Saudi Riyals (2,6666 USD), according to local daily newspaper, Sharq.
The queen – who hails from the Saudi island of Tarout - was among the top five finalists who made it through the competition that initially had 285 contestants, all between the ages of 16-24.
At the same competition, Fatema Abdel Jaleel Al Abad, 17, from the Saudi region of Al-Ahsa was crowned first runner-up whilst Fatema Saeed Al Baik, 23, from Al Qatif was the second runner-up.
In addition to a contestant’s ethics and good behaviour, the competition’s executive director Khadra’a Al Mubarak said the electoral criteria focused on the participant’s charisma and theatrical performance, in addition to herself confidence and literacy, reported Sharq newspaper.
The queen of ethics had to answer two main questions, initially directed to all five finalists. The questions were: What will the title add to you if you were qualified? What will you add to the title in return?
Al Saif said winning will encourage her to achieve her ambitions and goals, along with inspiring her compatriots to believe in their ability to form a change in the society as a whole. The queen also noted that she aims to establish a vocational rehabilitation project for people with special needs that would help them find suitable job opportunities.
The inauguration event was attended by several women, celebrities and media figures, alongside the contestants’ mothers.
Do you think a fully-veiled beauty pageant is ridiculous? Or are ethics more important than looks anyway? Tell us what you think below.