DUBAI: Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Abdullah Khalifa on Wednesday turned heads in the swimsuit, evening gown and costume presentation rounds at the 71st edition of Miss Universe in New Orleans.
For the swimsuit competition, the 24-year-old model graced the stage wearing a hot pink burkini with a cape that had the word “equality” written on it in Arabic.
The cape also featured text that read “Arab women should be represented” on one side and on the other side said: “A Muslim women can also become Miss Universe.”
As part of the preliminary competition, the Bahraini Russian pianist participated in an evening gown round. She wore a glitzy form-fitting dress with a matching hood designed by Filipino couturier Furne One.
For the national costume presentation, Abdullah Khalifa wore a gold ensemble, by One, that featured a structured trailing cape. She completed her look with a dangling gold headpiece.
“This costume represents the golden celebration of the establishment of Bahrain as a nation,” said the host as Abdullah Khalifa walked the stage. “The smallest country in the Middle East is among the richest in the world.”
Meanwhile, Miss Universe Lebanon Yasmina Zaytoun has also been making waves at the competition.
For the evening gown round, she wore a heavily embellished metallic gown designed by Lebanese couturier Charbel Zoe.
For the national costume competition, she wore a custom-made gold and green bodysuit inspired by Lebanon’s cedar tree, which was also designed by Zoe.
“The bodysuit is made of metal characterizing a female worrier who believes in bringing strength to a war zone country,” the host said as Zaytoun walked on stage.
Abdullah Khalifa, who was named this year’s Miss Universe Bahrain in September, told Arab News that winning the title “completely changed” her life.
“In this short time, I learned and saw so many new things. I traveled to the Philippines. I have been training there with one of the best beauty pageant trainers, and I went to the mental hospital in the Philippines,” she said. “I learned a lot of new things.”
Abdullah-Khalifa previously told Arab News one of the models that inspired her was Pia Wurtzbach, the Filipino beauty queen. “I remember how she looked beautiful, kind, innocent and at the same time very strong,” she said. “I wondered at that time why there weren’t Arab representatives at the competition.
“At that time, one of the conditions to participate in Miss Universe was to wear a bikini, which, we can say, is not allowed in our culture. That, I think, was the problem,” explained Abdullah-Khalifa.
“But just last year, finally, the first Bahraini woman Manar Dayani participated in Miss Universe with the burkini on during a swimwear competition.”
That moment gave Abdullah-Khalifa goosebumps. “Even now, I am so emotional, and I am proud of this moment,” she said.