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Israeli city of Eilat to host 2021 Miss Universe, including contestants from Morocco and UAE

Event marks a turnaround for struggling resort city after devastating pandemic closures

Contestants walk on stage during the Miss Universe 2018 preliminary round in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo: Shutterstock)

The 2021 Miss Universe will take place next month in Eilat – the southern Israeli port city on the Red Sea – marking the first time the Jewish state is hosting the competition and the first time the event is taking place in the Middle East since 2000. 

This year marks the 70th edition of the world-famous competition, which will be broadcasted live on Dec. 12 to approximately 600 million viewers in over 170 countries worldwide. The American television presenter Steve Harvey will host the event. 

Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, who has won multiple MTV Europe Music Awards, was thrilled to be chosen to perform at the Miss Universe event. 

“I’m so excited and honored to be performing at Miss Universe,” the 20-year-old pop star said. “By believing in themselves and fearlessly chasing their dreams, these women from around the world live and breathe the values of the Miss Universe Organization, and I can’t wait to share this celebratory moment with all of them on this incredible global stage.”

The Miss Universe competition will be the largest international event held in Israel since the start of the pandemic. Since April 2020, the resort city – which largely relies on tourism – struggled with an unprecedented unemployment rate of almost 70% due to pandemic-related closures. 

Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov welcomed the arrival of the Miss Universe competition to Israel. 

“Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus, we knew how to maintain the balance between health and economy, return tourism to Israel and create tourism anchors that will promote and present Israel to the world, as a vaccinated country that invites tourists,” Razvozov stated

Eilat Mayor Eli Lankri also welcomes the large international event to his city. 

“To our delight, the hundreds of millions of viewers around the world who will watch the competition will also be able to enjoy through the screens the rare beauty of the city,” he said. “The choice of Eilat will continue to strengthen its position as a leading international tourist city.”

Despite predictable calls for anti-Israel boycotts, contestants from Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will participate in the event. 

Morocco’s decision signals the close bilateral ties that have evolved between Morocco and the Jewish state since the countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations in December 2020. 

Miss Universe 2021 will mark the first time the UAE is participating. Like Morocco, the UAE quickly developed close diplomatic relations with Israel since the countries signed the historic Abraham Accords in September 2020. 

The Emiratis are expected to choose their first Miss Universe participant at an event in Dubai on Nov. 7. Some 30 women including Ameera Alawadhi, Marwa Al Hashemi and Reem Birdette all hope to be able to represent the UAE in Eilat in December. 

Alawadhi shared her enthusiasm on Instagram. 

“I’m shaking. I am so excited to announce that I’m one of the first Emirati women to make it to the Top 30 of the first-ever Miss Universe UAE. I really want to use this platform and opportunity to redefine what ‘beauty’ should mean to us as women, and especially to represent Khaleeji (Gulf) women. My mission is to show the world what we really have to offer, and that we do not ever have to hide,” Alawadhi wrote.

Despite cool diplomatic relations with Israel, Turkey will also participate at the Miss Universe event. Malaysia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Jerusalem and whose regime has been openly hostile toward Israel, decided to withdraw its participation for this year’s event. 

However, overall, the Miss Universe 2021 event in Eilat signals the Jewish state’s growing integration and acceptance among the family of nations. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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