Miss Arab USA: Not Your Typical Beauty Pageant – Nadia Elboubkri


Miss Arab USA is not a typical beauty pageant. It has a different agenda: promoting cultural awareness & leadership. Three Moroccan Americans are competing this year in Scottsdale, AZ on Aug. 31:  Nisrine Toumi from MA, Ymane Lakhlif from NY, & Majda Naanaa from FL.

Miss Arab USA is not a typical beauty pageant. It has a different agenda — promoting cultural awareness and leadership. Three Moroccan Americans competed this year in Scottsdale, Arizona:  Nisrine Toumi of MA, Ymane Lakhlif of NY, & Majda Naanaa of FL.


Nadia Elboubkri, Research Associate, MAC

Nadia Elboubkri, Research Assoc-MAC

MAC, Commentary by Nadia Elboubkri (Washington, DC, August 29, 2013) — Miss Arab USA is not a typical beauty pageant. It has a different agenda, that of promoting cultural awareness and leadership.

The pageant, according to Miss Arab USA official history, is “a charity event for the community, uniting Arabs and friends of Arabs in celebrating the Arab cultural heritage in this great nation of The United States of America.” The goal of the pageant is to provide a “non-political platform for young ladies to achieve personal growth and development, take pride in their heritage, discover their inner beauty in achieving their humanitarian goals in life and laying a strong foundation as leaders of the future.”

What really sets the Miss Arab USA pageant apart from other pageants is its general premise to showcase young Arab women who have a genuine interest in representing their cultures and nationalities. How do they do this? Well for one thing, in lieu of a swimsuit competition, contestants are able to show off their interpretation of ‘cultural dress’, and they have the choice of wearing the hijab or any other religious garb.

A former Moroccan-American contestant, Yossera Bouchtia, in an interview with Morocco World News, described the pageant as a way to “examine the identity of being an Arab immigrant and being a female living in that identity… [the pageant] was so different and so unique and kind of inspiring. [The contestants] weren’t trying to showcase specifically beauty like the perfection of beauty,” Boutchia said. “They were like your average girls in all shapes and sizes.”

This year, three contestants are representing Morocco in the pageant:

Ymane Lakhlif, 27, from New York;







Majda Naanaa, 27, from Florida; and,

Nisrine Toumi, 23, from Massachusetts.







The pageant will be held on August 31st in Scottsdale Arizona.

Good Luck to Ymane, Majda, and Nisrine!


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