Could India make history with a back-to-back win? Or could Bahrain be the first Middle Eastern country to take home a crown?
The Miss Universe 2022 pageant may be postponed to January next year, but pageant fans and followers are already picking their favourites, speculating on who they think could win the competition.
In their latest ranking, YouTube channel Crown Sisters, which aims to deliver “fresh and fair” pageant news, places Miss India Divita Rai on top. Miss Bahrain, Evlin Khalifa is at No 16, while Miss Universe Puerto Rico, Ashley Ann Carino (No 2) and Miss Philippines Celeste Cortesi (No 5) also rank high.
Sash Factor, another pageant site, places Rai at No 10, while Khalifa comes in at No 12.
Meanwhile, Missotopia, also a pageant fan site, has India at No 9 and Bahrain at No 20.
Following Harnaaz Sandhu’s win of the Miss Universe 2021, all eyes are on Rai, 23, an architect from Karnataka in South India, who won the Indian pageant in August. If Rai wins the crown, she will make history as the second country to win a crown back-to-back.
Only Venezuela has achieved that feat before, winning in 2008 and 2009. The pageant-mad country has won the Miss Universe title a total of seven times, second only to the US, which has won eight.
“We have a system placed especially for Miss Universe in observing and analysing the probability for a contestant’s placement based on the criteria on what the Miss Universe Organisation is looking for,” Brix Vera from Sash Factor tells The National.
Miss Bahrain Khalifa has “huge potential to break and make history”, she says.
“During Miss Universe Bahrain 2022, we noticed Evlin Khalifa as the strongest on her batch, and with the proper training and guidance, her placement at Miss Universe 2022 is not impossible. We also have taken note on her modelling career as well as her charitable back stories.”
While by no means official, these rankings are not to be taken lightly, says Josh Yugen, the national director for Miss Universe Bahrain.
“These pageant bloggers serve as the soul of the pageant industry as they are true fans of the competition,” he says. “They have been following every pageant, from the day a contestant applies for their national pageant until they compete and represent their countries. Most of them are well-informed and have every information about past winners, their looks and even the answers of each candidate.
“It is safe to say that pageant bloggers are the unofficial jury of the pageants as they have in-depth information and analysis about the competition. And most of them can accurately predict the winners.”
Yugen, who is also the chief executive of Yugen Group based out of Dubai, says he’s excited to help improve representation of women from the Gulf on a global stage.
“Miss Universe Bahrain is the first of its kind to represent the region and this is part of what we are fighting for — representation,” he tells The National.
“If you look into Hollywood movies, Disney films and even international Netflix shows or fashion shows, there is not enough representation of women in the Gulf, most are stereotypes that they are covered, intimidating or unapproachable.
“But the women in the Gulf have their own charm, their own beauty and their own personalities that contribute to the modernisation of the society. They are fighters, innovators and most importantly kind-hearted women who also deserve big representation on the Miss Universe stage.”
New Orleans in Louisiana will play host to the Miss Universe 2022 pageant, to be held on January 14.
While a number of countries are yet to name their representatives, 70 contestants have already been chosen through national competitions.