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‘Breaking stereotypes’: Dubai to hold first-ever Miss Universe UAE with some Filipinos at the helm and one Filipina contestant

By Brooke Villanueva Published Oct 22, 2021 11:12 am

For the first time in 70 years, the United Arab Emirates will crown a bet for the prestigious Miss Universe pageant. And some Filipino creatives have been assigned different roles in its council to contribute to its success, while one Filipina is set to compete.

Cavite-born Josh Yugen, who is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Xpedition Magazine, will serve as the organization’s president and national director. “Being appointed as the first-ever President and National Director of the historical Miss Universe UAE is a magnitude of honour, but am also aware that with great powers comes with great responsibilities,” he wrote in an Instagram post. 

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A post shared by Josh Yugen (@josh_yugen)

Miss World Philippines 2007 Maggie Wilson will be working as the organization's creative consultant. “The launch is considered a milestone in the region,” the entrepreneur said, thanking Yugen for the opportunity. “I look forward to working alongside such exceptional and talented individuals.”

Miss Universe UAE’s head of creatives, fashion, and design is Filipino designer Furne Amato, whose ensembles have been showcased by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, among other beauty queens.

With the mantra “breaking stereotypes,” the candidates will take part in various categories of the competition—from personal statements and interviews to couture activewear and evening gown. As per Yugen in an interview with another publication, there will be no swimsuit round “as a form of respect for UAE’s culture. There are still many Muslims living there.” 

Franki Russell, who joined the reality show Pinoy Big Brother in 2018, is one of the candidates vying for the crown. The Filipina-Kiwi is currently residing in Dubai, UAE. "I am so inspired by everything this pageant stands for. Diversity, celebrating women from all walks of life, empowerment, and breaking stereotypes," she wrote on Instagram. "Stepping out of my comfort zone never felt so good."

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A post shared by Franki Russell (@missfranki)

The Miss Universe UAE coronation night will be held on Nov. 7 in Dubai. The winner will represent UAE in the 70th Miss Universe tilt, which is slated for December in Eilat, Israel.