Oh joy! Longer-term €S readers will remember all the way back to May, when I first brought you word in this space about the “Miss Saudi Arabia” pageant. Due to the . . . er . . . somewhat different nature of that extravaganza’s judging-process, it takes rather longer than your average beauty pageant. But now this year’s winner has finally been crowned, and that is eighteen-year-old Aya Ali Mulla. I had not really been on the look-out for any sort of follow-up to May’s story – I promise! – but my RSS feeds nonetheless came up for me big-time and alerted me to recent coverage of that pageant’s outcome from the Czech press, namely from Lidové noviny and Mladá fronta dnes. These articles are (almost) the same, as they both are by-lined to the same Czech press agency piece. For example, they have similar headlines: “Saudi Arabia has new Miss, but no one has seen her” and “Miss Saudi Arabia’s face seen only by female jury-members,” respectively.
Naturally, both Czech papers ultimately refer back to the Saudi press for coverage of this marquee event, but have to report that no Saudi paper was actually able to state what it was about Ms. Mulla* that catapulted her to victory. It was easier just to report what she won: an amount in riyals that, from the Czech-crown equivalent that is cited, seems to be just under €1,000; a pearl necklace; some diamonds (mounted on what, is not revealed); a wristwatch; and a paid vacation to Malaysia, which, although of course another Islamic land, is a pretty nice place to visit, I’ve heard. There’s also further detail here on one of the event’s key competitions, the “How much do you respect your mother?” event: apparently contestants each spend an entire day out “in the country” with their own mother, under the observation of one of the jury-members (wielding a clipboard, no doubt). I say, get coverage of that on the X-Games channel, pronto!
The Czech papers are able to contribute some added detail, perhaps somewhat wistfully, about another beauty pageant held in the Arab world that does actually conform a bit more tightly to what most of the rest of the world understands by the concept, namely the one for Miss Lebanon, where the girls do actually appear in swimsuits (one-piece only, though) and in evening gowns, and are interviewed in front of an audience. In contrast, returning again to Saudi Arabia, the LN article states “Beauty competitions there only have to do with goats, sheep, camels, and other animals” – despite the considerable effort required each year to get the camels into their one-piece bathing-suits!
[Cymbal crash] No, that last part I made up myself . . .
*Quite a suitable name, eh? No, I’m not making it up, click through above to the articles and see for yourself if you want. But don’t be fooled when you see the winner’s last name as “Mullaová”: that last “-ová” part is added routinely in Czech, Slovak, and some other Slavic languages to women’s last names.