While most of us are familiar with beauty pageants seen only on western television shows, we often are not aware of our very own Miss Egypt pageants, which have been around since 1927. The latest competition took place in October 2019, and the winner was 20-year old Diana Hamed, an Egyptian/Hungarian beauty with a lovely spirit and delightful smile. eniGma’s Tanya Jaff caught up with the recently crowned Miss Egypt Universe, who also competed at the Miss Universe pageant this year, to discuss her exciting experience, her views on what real beauty is all about, and her plans for the future.
Having graduated from high school just two years ago, newly crowned beauty queen, Diana Hamed is currently studying at Hult Business School in London, while also pursuing a modeling career she began when she was fourteen years old. When the Miss Egypt Universe 2019 competition came to her attention a few months ago, she applied, thinking it might be a good idea to branch out into beauty pageants. While on a modeling assignment in Singapore, Hamed got a call back from the pageant for the casting and the rest is history.
Participating among twenty contestants ranging in age from 20 to 27 years old, Hamed was crowned Miss Egypt Universe on October 20, 2019. Shortly thereafter, she was preparing for the ultimate international competition, Miss Universe, that was taking place the following month. “Miss Universe was a big competition with 92 young women representing their countries,” says Hamed, who saw a big difference between the Miss Egypt Universe and the Miss Universe pageants in terms of the level of effort and devotion of the participants.“The Miss Universe contestants put a lot more effort into it. Some of them are dedicating their whole life to pageants. They seemed to have been training for this ever since they were born. In the west, there is a strong support for universal beauty pageants with large audiences that watch the competitions annually. On the other hand, the Miss Egypt Universe pageant was more relaxed and cordial, and the emphasis was more on having a well-rounded personality, rather than just a pretty face,” Hamed adds.
This year, the Miss Universe pageant was held in the state of Georgia in the United States. “It was very hectic. There were so many things to be done every day. As the contestants, we had to practice the choreography of the shows and to attend all the events coordinated by the Miss Universe organisation,” Hamed recounts. The competition involved four rounds; the first round started with all the contestants. In the second round, the number was cut down to the top 20, and in the third round the judges picked the top five, who then went on to the final round. While Hamed did not make it to the second round of top 20, she was nonetheless extremely grateful for the experience, and for going through the preparation that came with the competition. “I felt really special. I was also the only country representative of the Arab World this year; and a lot of the girls kept asking me questions about Arab culture. They were very intrigued, which is so important,” says Hamed.
“Going through two pageants in less than six months was an experience that definitely helped me grow as a person,” says Hamed. She was also lucky to have her family and friends as pillars of support, which she believes is the key to success. Hamed also notes that there is more to beauty pageants than meets the eye. “It’s not only about wearing a pretty dress and strutting a fancy walk. There is a lot more work that goes into it than looking beautiful. I’ve actually never worked that much in my life! For a month and a half, I was practicing day and night. I got out of my comfort zone, and I think that made me grow up so much. I also improved my communication skills and got to know what I liked and didn’t like.” she exclaims. Hamed adds that her duties as Miss Egypt 2019, which included participation in charity events, hospital visits and other volunteer programs, also contributed to her personal growth.
The fact that Hamed isn’t the typical model or beauty queen has gained her support and encouragement from a lot of women in Egypt. She has presented herself as a strong girl who believes that beauty has very little to do with what clothes you wear or how expensive your foundation is, but rather with accepting yourself for who you are. “Women appreciate the fact that I am not very thin and that I competed in the pageant based on my inner beauty. I don’t really care about being skinny. I’m not on a certain diet and I don’t even really work out. I accept myself the way I am, and I think this is what makes me look good. Having the right mentality supports your mental health,” Hamed declares. “This is what makes younger girls look and feel good too. We need to promote the notion that if you’re accepting of yourself and you’re happy, you will look good no matter what. Shining from the inside is more important than shining on the outside,” she adds.
Although she did not win in the international pageant, Hamed caught the eye of a number of agencies who are helping advance her career. She has now officially signed with a professional modelling agency in Egypt and has already starred in a few commercials. She is also filming a reality television show about beauty pageants in South Korea and is waiting to see if that will lead to other things on the small screen. “I’m not sure what is in store for me in the acting world, but if I get a good opportunity, I will try it,” says Hamed, adding, “Right now, I want to finish my business degree first and see what happens later. My education is definitely important to me.” Whatever path Hamed decides to take, it’s safe to say that the talented and beautiful Miss Egypt Universe 2019 has a bright future ahead of her.