CAIRO: The 21-year-old English teacher Ehsan Hatem, the contestant who received the sole jeers of the night, was crowned Pantene s Miss Egypt 2007 yesterday at an elegant, well organized ceremony held at Media City s convention theatre.
The contest was heavily promoted this year with the help of the Egyptian satellite channel Melody which covered the entire competition and broadcasted the ceremony live.
Egyptian star Tamer Hagras hosted the show along with young TV presenter Mariam Amin. Amin s effortlessness and poise was eclipsed by her co-presenter s loud and ostentatious antics that were slammed minutes after the end of the show on the internet s Egyptian message boards. Hagras not only persisted on embarrassing Amin, who described one of his earlier banal gags as an unpromising start, but he literary tried to seize every single moment on stage to either attract attention to himself or stress his love for the ladies and their revealing outfits. Hagras smugness was easily the worst aspect of the ceremony.
The jury was composed of an eclectic set of different professionals including Desiree Sadik, founder of Elle magazine in the Middle-East, Plastic surgeon Emad Michelle, Miss Egypt 2005 Miriam George, Jeweler Hassan Eleesh, Syrian actress Sulaf Fawakherji and famous veteran Lebanese singer Sabah.
The 15 contestants eliminated in the first and second round – which saw the girls parading in identical red and black semi-prudish swimsuits and flashy evening gown that lacked simplicity and taste – were judged primarily on their looks as none of them was given the chance to speak.
Julia Nabil, one of the early favorites, was the surprise exit from the second round, giving way to, if judging merely by looks, less deserving contenders.
Before the final round, popular heartthrob Mohamed Hamaki and Lebanese crooner Yara lip-synched a few numbers before the five young women were given the chance to speak their minds out.
As expected, nothing that came out of the ladies mouths was remotely imaginative, meaningful or exciting though. Madonna Khaled believed that discrimination was wrong; Sherehan Fouad stated that success should be the aim of every person; Yara Naoum mechanically announced that no one should deserve to be given the capital punishment; while Radwa Ahmed gushingly proclaimed love to be the the only emotion that doesn t have a negative side.
The girls aspirations contained none of the selfless notions expressed previously. Their expressed dreams revolved around spending a day in Paris or Rome, hanging out with a famous star or visiting a perfume factory.
Midway through these short speeches, the foreign-looking Hatem requested to speak in English. A screaming audience member responded by telling her that she must talk in Arabic as she s competing in Egypt for the title of Miss Egypt who should accurately represent her own country. After proceeding to talk in English, some of the crowds started booing forcing her to answer in struggling Arabic when asked later about which deceased female she d like to see coming back to life.
Nevertheless, with an obvious calm beauty, charmingly shy personality and a sense of grace none of the other ladies exhibited; Hatem defied criticism to easily beat Radwa Ahmed (the first runner-up) and Naoum (second runnerup).
Overall, Pantene has succeeded in putting up a show that ranks among the best of the history of pageant despite everything. The biggest flaw both the organizers and producers of the show overlooked is the lack of information that should ve been revealed briefly to the viewers. None of the general public got to learn any details about any of 20 participants after watching the nearly three-hour program. At the end, the Miss Egypt show felt like a big film with pretty yet vague characters with no back stories and not enough reasons to root for the majority of them.