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A first, Saudi Arabia's Rumy Alqahtani to participate in Miss Universe pageant

Saudi Arabia, which was relatively closed off for decades, has in recent years relaxed strict social codes, such as segregating men and women in public places and requiring women to wear all-covering black robes, or abayas.

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Riyadh Updated on: March 28, 2024 10:32 IST
Saudi Arabia Rumy Alqahtani
Image Source : RUMY ALQAHTANI/INSTAGRAM Rumy Alqahtani

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will participate in the Miss Universe pageant for the first time, making it a historic event for the Islamic country. Rumy Alqahtani, a beauty pageant veteran and an influencer announced the same on her Instagram on Monday. Alqahtani said she will be representing the kingdom in one of the most popular pageants in the world.

She shared glamorous pictures of herself. In the picture, the model can be seen wearing a strapless and sequined gown. Along with the photos, she wrote, "I am honoured to participate in the Miss Universe 2024 competition. This is the first participation of Saudi Arabia in the Miss Universe competition," she wrote in Arabic on Instagram.

Who is Rumy Alqahtani?

According to the Khaleej Times, born in Riyadh, Alqahtani is no stranger to the spotlight. She has joined numerous global pageants, with the latest one being Miss and Mrs Global Asian in Malaysia a few weeks ago. Last year, Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios was crowned Miss Universe 2023. For the first time, a contestant from Nicaragua became the winner of the contest while Antonia Porsild from Thailand and Moraya Wilson from Australia secured the second and third positions respectively. The organizers of the event announced last year that the next edition will be held in Mexico.

Why Saudi Arabia is relaxing decade-old norms? 

Saudi Arabia, which was relatively closed off for decades, has in recent years relaxed strict social codes, such as segregating men and women in public places and requiring women to wear all-covering black robes, or abayas. Prince Mohammed's tightening grip on power has been accompanied by changes which included opening the country for non-religious tourism, concerts and allowing women to drive, as well as a crackdown on dissent and political rivals. Vision 2030 also includes developing local industries and logistics hubs, and aims at adding hundreds of thousands of jobs for Saudi nationals.

Earlier in January, media reports claimed that Saudi Arabia was preparing to open its first alcohol store in the capital Riyadh which will serve exclusively non-Muslim diplomats.

Notably, Saudi Arabia has strict laws against drinking alcohol which can be punishable by hundreds of lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment and expatriates also face deportation. As part of the reforms, whipping has largely been replaced by jail sentences. Alcohol has been available only through diplomatic mail or on the black market.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Saudi Arabia, which has strict laws for alcohol, set to open first store only for 'non-Muslim diplomats'

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