BEIRUT: The Forum de Beyrouth played host to a glittering showcase of Lebanese talent on Sunday night as model, journalism student and show host Yasmina Zaytoun was crowned Miss Lebanon 2022, almost four years after the last edition of the pageant.
The host of the educational online platform the @WITHYASMINASHOW beat out fellow contestants Maya Abou El-Hassan, who finished as first runner-up, Jacintha Rashed, who was named second runner up, and Lara Hraoui and Dalal Hoballah who were voted in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Zaytoun is from the village of Kfarchouba in southern Lebanon and is currently studying at Notre Dame University — Louaize. She hosts an Instagram show titled the “With Yasmina Show,” where she interviews media and sports personalities, including politician Paula Yacoubian and actress Enjy Kiwan.
Delayed by years of crises in Lebanon, the much anticipated the show featured 17 candidates from various cities and regions who wowed a judging panel consisting of music composer Michel Fadel, influencer Karen Wazen, General Manager of IP Studios Mohamad Yehya, Miss World 2022 Karolina Bielawska, General Manager of Al-Nahar and Al-Nahar Al-Arabi Nayla Tueni, Caracala dance theatre director Ivan Caracala, TV host Hilda Khalife, and Miss Lebanon 1993 Samaya Chedrawi, who was on hand to represent the Ministry of Tourism.
“Tonight, we’re celebrating Lebanon, not just Miss Lebanon,” Tueni said, explaining the importance of the event.
“Celebrating Lebanon that we miss, the beautiful country, the life in Lebanon. This is the most beautiful image of the real people, the real Lebanese that are suffering and trying to survive. This is a very important message, and I hope that Lebanon will rise again with a very positive message. We will stay strong because we love Lebanon,” she added, noting that the new beauty queen has to “be the voice of the Lebanese people.”
Hosted by Lebanese actress and TV host Aimee Sayah, the event also featured a performance by Lebanese singing icon Nancy Ajram, who started with a rendition of “Ila Beirut Al Ontha” in a tribute to the city, before surprising her fans with “Salmat Salamat” and a performance of her new song “Sah Sah,” which was produced by US DJ Marshmello.
Ajram invited her audience to support Lebanon in the “good and the bad,” adding: “I never thought about how to love Lebanon. There’s no rule as to how you can love your country. I love Lebanon till the end.”
Sayah was dressed by famed Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika, fresh off his runway presentation at Paris Haute Couture Week in July while contestants showed off a number of glamorous looks, including evening gowns and bathing suits, and also demonstrated their ability to keep a cool head under pressure by addressing a range of social issues on stage.
Those issues included divorce, fragmented families, women abuse and violence — both verbal and physical — access to healthcare and education, and women’s empowerment, among others.
The lucky few hit the stage after being prepped and primped by the best in the business, including celebrity makeup artist Bassam Fattouh and hairstylist Wassim Morkos.
Previous Miss Lebanon Maya Reaidy, who was crowned in September 2018, passed the title and the tiara on to her successor, bringing her almost four-year-reign to an end after a series of crises forced the event to be postponed.
In the run up to the event, billboards dotted roads in Beirut and beyond with the slogan “We missed celebrating Lebanon’s beauty,” which played into the wider #WeMissLebanon campaign touted by the event organizers, The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) and The Ministry of Tourism.
Organizers also released a glamorous advert featuring a number of the contestants posing in daring outfits, with stunning aerial views of Lebanese tourist hotspots interspersed throughout the 48-second video.
The ceremony reflected the same celebration of the country through the music, which was chosen by Fadel, the setup and decoration with take home flowers.
Chairman and CEO of the Miss World organization Julia Morley, Miss World 2021 Karolina Bielawska from Poland, the first runner-up Miss USA Shree Saini, and Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh from Jamaica and Miss World Events Director Stephen Douglas Morley were also in attendance.
“I have travelled quite a lot and I find that the people are the heart of every country. I can honestly say that Lebanese people are so beautiful and so warm, and even though I’m miles away from my own country Jamaica I feel at home,” Singh said.
The winner was selected from a pool of candidates chosen for their beauty and brains at auditions held between December 2021 and February 2022, with Lebanese young women aged between the ages of 18 and 27 invited to participate.