x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai student aims to win Miss India Worldwide

Sanna Monga, 21, a student at Middlesex University in Dubai, is competing for the Miss India Worldwide title at a pageant to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Sanna Monga, a student at Middlesex University in Dubai, is competing for the Miss India Worldwide title at a pageant to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
Sanna Monga, a student at Middlesex University in Dubai, is competing for the Miss India Worldwide title at a pageant to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // A business student from Sharjah has dreamt of being a beauty queen ever since she was a little girl, and if she sees off competition from 39 other Indian women from across the world this week she will realise that dream.

Sanna Monga, 21, a student at Middlesex University in Dubai, is competing for the Miss India Worldwide title at a pageant to be held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“I have always enjoyed being on stage and I’ve been dancing since the age of four,” said Ms Monga, who moved with her mother to the UAE from New Delhi eight years ago.

“I have had this craze of wanting to participate. I’m planning to do my MBA but I saw this announcement on Facebook and thought I should give it a shot.”

Miss India Worldwide is billed as the only international Indian pageant. It is open to all women of Indian origin aged between 17 and 27 and contestants must live in the country they represent.

All the girls arrived in Dubai on Sunday from countries including Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, Kenya, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

It will be the second time in three years that the UAE has hosted the contest which was first held in New York more than 20 years ago.

The last time a girl from the UAE wore the glittering crown was a decade ago.

“Many winners go on to work in Bollywood or take up modelling assignments,” said Eisha Ramrakhiani, spokeswoman for the pageant. “Others focus on charity work.”

The pageant includes evening gown, Indian dress, a talent contest and question-and-answer sections.

About 800 spectators are expected each evening for the talent night on Wednesday in Dubai and the finale in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The girls will be taken on a desert safari on Monday. They will also be put through a schedule of rehearsals, dance practices, workshops on speech, hair and make-up conducted by top fashion photographers and Bollywood choreographers.

For Ms Monga, the preparation began at home with her mother, Anu, the head of a kindergarten school in Dubai, who helped her with mock questions she could face.

“I’ve always encouraged her to choose what she wants, and although I would like her to pursue her education, I will give her space and time,” said Mrs Monga, a single mother whose husband passed away when Sanna was eight months old. “It has not been easy but she has been a wonderful child, always supportive and never demanding. We have no family here, it’s just Sanna and me. The UAE has given us the confidence to live and work independently and we have always felt safe here.

“She has been aspiring for this for a long time so naturally I would like to see her win the crown. But, more importantly, she will gain experience and confidence.”

Ms Monga studied in Our Own Indian School, Dubai; Our Own English High School and later won a scholarship for three years to study international business at Middlesex University.

She has learnt classical Indian and contemporary jazz dance forms that will be part of her repertoire for the talent night.

She still plans to take business school exams this year. “I have been preparing for the GMAT exams and I’ve taken classes so I want to do them. I’m excited about the experience and feel the pressure to win and perform, because if I do it will be a complete change. My mum always tells me, ‘Do whatever you want, do what makes you happy’, and that is exactly what I’m doing.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae