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She is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Miss Universe pageant

She is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Miss Universe pageant

Rumi Al-Qahtani, 27, will compete for Saudi Arabia in a beauty pageant in Mexico. Meanwhile, the questionable decision of the UN Women's Rights Council continues to draw criticism.

30.03.2024, 19:1330.03.2024, 20:30

Michael Wrase, Limassol / ch Media

A few years ago this would have been unimaginable. Now it's a reality: For the first time in Saudi Arabia's history, a Saudi Arabian woman will compete in the “Miss Universe” pageant in Mexico in September. Rumi al-Qahtani wrote on his Instagram account earlier in the week that he was “honoured to participate in the competition”.

The 27-year-old is a model and social media influencer with over a million followers. She has already won the title of “Miss Middle East” and “Miss World Arabia” in her home country. At the event, she wore a long, high-necked evening dress worn on the catwalk in Mexico.

The participation of a qualified dental technician in an international beauty pageant is a milestone for the desert kingdom, which is characterized by fundamentalist Islam and is increasingly opening up to the Western world.

There are new laws and restrictions though

The turnaround was initiated by Mohammed bin Salman, who has taken a number of steps to promote gender equality since his appointment as crown prince in June 2017.

The lifting of a decades-long ban on driving for Saudi women in June 2018 marked a turning point for the ultra-conservative country. Two months ago, women were allowed to participate in a pop concert and football games, where only men were allowed until then.

The most significant breakthrough for Saudi women's rights was a law signed by King Salman in 2019 that allows women to travel without their husbands' permission. However, the new rules were not consistently implemented. Human rights organizations have repeatedly reported on discrimination and violations of women's rights.

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Saudi Arabia chairs the UN Women's Rights Forum

Saudi Arabia, of all places, has been given the new presidency of the UN Women's Rights Council. Just last week, Amnesty International called on United Nations member states to reconsider their decision during the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

“Saudi Arabia's dismal record in protecting and empowering women highlights the huge gap between the reality of the lives of women and girls in Saudi Arabia and the aspirations of the UN Commission,” Amnesty International's Sherin Tadroz stressed.

Saudi Arabia is ranked 131 out of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum in 2023. Most women in the country still wear the abaya, a black garment that covers the entire body. Face veils are also widespread but, like the abaya, are no longer mandatory.

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Ah… eve in heaven. It looks like this Shakira Original from their “Oral Fixation – Volume 2” album. Build: Wikipedia
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Far from equality, but very close

Video: srf

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