Miss Egypt hopeful as the 2019 Miss Universe kicks off in Atlanta

The 68th edition of the Miss Universe pageant is currently underway at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. AFP
Updated 08 December 2019

Miss Egypt hopeful as the 2019 Miss Universe kicks off in Atlanta

  • Egypt's Diana Hamed is the only contestant representing the Arab world at the 68th edition of Miss Universe
  • On Dec. 6, she took to the stage at the pre-coronation national costume contest to show off her patriotic side

DUBAI: The 68th edition of the Miss Universe pageant is currently underway at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, where The Philippines' Catriona Gray is set to crown her successor on Dec. 8.  



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“There is an eagle within me that wants to soar.” It is with deep honor to showcase our national pride during the Miss Universe National costume show, the Philippine Eagle whose strength, power, and love for freedom exemplifies the Filipino people. Created by the master couturier Mama @carysantiago @carysantiago7 Proud to have showcased your masterpieces in the Miss Universe stage. Your passion, dedication, and love for our country is admirable. Here’s How To Vote for Best in National Costime Award. 1. Log in to vote.missuniverse.com 2. Click VOTE NOW. 3. Find and click National Costume. 4. Choose and Vote Miss Philippines #70 Credits to the rightful owners of the photos #MissUniverse2019 #MissUniversePH #Philippines #MissUniverso #MissUniverso2019 #GaziniGanados #GaziniGanado5 #ForThePhilippines

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The pageant kicked off on Dec. 7 with the Preliminary and National Costume Competition.

Among the hopeful contestants who hail from 90 different countries and territories is Diana Hamed, the reigning Miss Egypt, who took home the crown for Miss Universe Egypt 2019.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From today’s dinner dress by: @elhamalyousif

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The 20-year-old beat out 19 other contestants on Oct. 20 to accept the crown from her predecessor Nariman Khaled at a jam-packed ceremony at Cairo’s Al Massah Hotel. The beauty queen was selected by an expert panel that comprised of the National Director of Miss Universe Hoda Abboud, Egyptian fashion designer Hany El-Beheiry and actress Nermine El-Feky, among others.

Aya Abdel Razek was crowned the first runner-up, while Mirna Makkawi was the second runner up.

Hamed is the only contestant representing the Arab world in the highly-televised competition, which is once again being hosted by American television presenter Steve Harvey, though the Philippines' Gazini Ganados is part-Palestinian on her biological father's side. 

Hailing from Cairo, the business student took to the stage this week for the pre-coronation National Costume Contest to show off her patriotic side by donning a stunning red and gold ensemble paired with a crown to represent her country.




The business student took to the stage on Dec. 6 for the pre-coronation National Costume Contest to show off her patriotic side. Instagram

Miss Universe 2019 will be crowned by the reigning Catriona Gray. If Hamed wins, she will receive a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, which will see her travel overseas to perform charity work and raise awareness for diseases and education. The winner will also receive room and board in a luxury apartment in New York City plus cash allowance for her entire reign, a New York Film Academy scholarship, a modeling portfolio with WME IMG, which happens to be the Miss Universe parent organization, a year supply of beauty products, a custom-styled new wardrobe, and healthcare, as well as invitations to events such as fashion shows, movie premieres and opening galas throughout New York.


From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

Zain Al-Rafeea spoke to Arab News about his role in ‘The Eternals.’ (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2020

From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

LOS ANGELES: A child is forced to leave home to escape a terrible fate. Growing up in a strange land, he develops a special talent and achieves greatness.

It is a familiar story that could describe the lives of a host of superheroes. But it also applies to refugee and actor Zain Al-Rafeea, and his courageous journey from Syria to stardom.

Al-Rafeea was born in 2004. His family fled the Syrian conflict when he was eight, moving to Lebanon, where they were forced to find shelter in the slums of Beirut.

“Unfortunately, refugees face harsh conditions in Lebanon because the country has so many of them,” Al-Rafeea told Arab News. “I never thought I would be an actor or a famous person. I just dreamt of being safe with my family and that nothing bad would happen to them. I was focusing on making money to support my parents.”

In late 2017, Al-Rafeea’s life was changed by a chance encounter with Jennifer Haddad, casting director and collaborator of acclaimed Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki.

“I was in the street with a group of friends. I saw Jennifer, and she asked me if I would like to act. My first reaction was like ‘OK, I have no problem with that.’ She took a video of me, sent it to Nadine and things went on from there.”

Labaki cast Al-Rafeea as the lead in her 2018 drama “Capernaum.” The film was a hit, and the young actor’s performance was lauded by both audiences and critics.

“I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that I have such an international success,” Al-Rafeea said. “I just thought of it as an acting experience, but things went in a much better direction.”

In November, it was announced that Al-Rafeea will join the cast of Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals.” The film tells the story of a race of immortal aliens who lived on Earth in secret, and features A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

“The introduction happened through Nadine. Directors and producers from Hollywood talked to her and she put us in touch,” Al-Rafeea said.

The actor met his fellow cast members on the Canary Islands during the early stages of filming. “They were nice and their welcome to me was very sweet,” he said. “They invited me for lunch and we chatted for hours, I felt so happy.

“When we finished the first day’s shooting, Salma Hayek came up and hugged me. That night she gave me an iPad and iPhone, and we chatted and listened to music together.”

The teenage star couldn’t reveal much about his role in “The Eternals,” only that he joins the alien heroes as a human who can speak a mysterious 7,000-year-old language.

Life in the Beirut slums is a thing of the past for the Al-Rafeea family. With their son’s success, they were able to relocate to Norway.

“It is a perfect country, the people are so calm, and there are no fights or even traffic. Having water and electricity all the time is a great thing.” While he is excited about his new home, Al-Rafeea has not forgotten his friends, family and the home he left behind in Syria.

“Work hard for nothing is impossible — look what happened to me,” Al-Rafeea said in a message to children facing situations like the one he endured. “Simply dream big.”

“The Eternals” is due to be released in the US on Nov. 6, 2020. A Middle Eastern premiere date is yet to be announced.