x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Miss World hopefuls land in capital

More than a hundred Miss World contestants have descended on Abu Dhabi on their way to the final competition in South Africa.

A Miss World contestant during a fashion show at the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
A Miss World contestant during a fashion show at the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // More than a hundred Miss World contestants have descended on Abu Dhabi for a stopover on their way to the final competition in South Africa. The 119 beauty queens, who will battle for the Miss World crown in hannesburg next month, powered down a catwalk on the grounds of the newly constructed Yas Hotel last night, showcasing gowns by South African designers. The contestants, and reigning Miss World Ksenia Sukhinova of Russia, arrived on Wednesday, when they attended a gala dinner at the hotel with more than 300 guests.

"It's great to have them here," said Jean-Francois Laurent, general manager of the hotel. "We've been very busy, they are all accompanied with agents and personal assistants and there's definitely a lot of luggage." These guests are a far cry from the Formula One drivers and racing fanatics that filled the hotel on its opening earlier this month, and have some different requirements. "The laundry at the hotel has been very, very busy pressing all the beautiful dresses," Mr Laurent said. He said it was a mutual decision between the hotel management and Miss World organisers to put on the event.

"The hotel is design driven and we felt Miss World would be a good fit. We've known the organisers for some time and we felt it would be a nice idea to bring the girls to Abu Dhabi," he said. The fashion show featured the work of seven designers, including JJ Schoeman, Haroun Hansrot and Diamond Face Couture. Earlier in the day the competitors were given a sightseeing tour of Abu Dhabi, including a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Several of the beauty queens visited the Formula One track on Wednesday, where Miss Italy met the Maserati team who are testing their race cars on the circuit. They will fly on to Johannesburg for the final, which is divided into four events sports, beach beauty, top model and talent. The pageant will be televised live on December 12. The competition, now in its 59th year, has faced controversy in the past. In 2002, it was criticised for choosing Nigeria as its location at a time when a woman there was awaiting death by stoning for adultery. Several contestants boycotted and the competition was moved to London after a newspaper article sparked inter-religious riots.

This year is not without its mishaps: The group staying in Abu Dhabi is missing several of its original contestants. Rachel Christie, who had been named Miss England, was forced to give up her crown to the runner-up after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting Miss Manchester earlier this month. German and Russian contestants also had to be replaced because of explicit photos of them on the internet. Miss Singapore stepped down after becoming the subject of a national petition because of her conviction for credit card fraud. lmorris@thenational.ae