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Miss Egypt: The Secrets Revealed..

Youssef Spahi has been the man behind the scenes for all of Miss Egypt's competitions since 1998, and after a short hiatus since 2011, he's geared the event for a comeback.

One doesn't really think of men when they think of Miss Egypt, but without one man the competition would not be possible.

Youssef Spahi has run Miss Egypt since 1998, and after a short post-revolution hiatus - Egypt's Professor Female is back and ready to show off the country's brightest and most beautiful ladies to the planet.

This year's competition will see winning contestants sent to the Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss Earth competitions, with the winner given the honour of representing Egypt on the international stage.

The winner will take on the task of representing Egypt abroad and encouraging foreigners to think twice about Egypt and their perceptions of Egyptians.

The first Miss Egypt pageant was held in 1929, yet Egypt has tasted international glory just once since the competition began - as Antigone Costanda took the Miss World crown in 1954.

Speaking about the country's illustrious past in the field, Youssef gives a candid insight into the reasons behind the competition's three year break.

"I’ve been involved in Miss Egypt since 1998, and the last big event we did was 2007, and then we skipped 2008 and 2009 due to lack of sponsors," Spahi says. "We staged a minor comeback in 2010. It was a decent event, but it was not very big. 

"And the deal was in 2011 would be the big comeback, and of course it didn’t happen. Things changed. In 2012 and 2013, it was impossible, with Morsi. It wasn’t the right time, and the country’s situation was not quite stable enough to start approaching sponsors," he continues.

"We didn’t believe that we knew where the country was going, so we thought that it would be wise to wait and see."

However Yousef now believes that the time is right to bring the pageant back in a bid to give Egypt's ailing tourist economy a kick in the right direction.

"We need this event badly now, because tourism is in jeopardy. The name of the event, if you translate it from “Gameelet Masr,” it means The Beauties of Egypt. It’s not the beauty of the girl. What we’re doing is we’re trying to discover all the beautiful
places in Cairo through the girls who are educated, not necessarily beautiful, but they are educated, they can speak different languages, they have hobbies and culture, that’s why we decided to call the event “Gameelet Masr.”

"It’s about everything, Egypt, tourism, the environment, and a girl who can represent Egypt in Miss Universe and Miss World and Miss Earth," he says. "We are also preparing something that I think will be very important."

Beauty pageants are often accused of being shallow and creating an unfair platform judgement on true beauty. However Spahi is quick in his attempt to silence the critics.

"I would say that they don’t really understand the concept of a beauty pageant. 

"It’s not about the beauty queen of Egypt, it’s about Miss Egypt. Egypt has so much to offer. She has to be intelligent; she has to have knowledge of her country. She’s an ambassador of the country. If it were shallow, it would be all about beauty and there would be no questions," he says.

"With beauty pageants, the slogan is “beauty with a purpose,” and this is the way you do it at Miss Universe and Miss World and Miss Earth, and every international pageant is adopting a cause. 

"This is one thing that we were lacking, we never knew how to adopt a cause. But this year, it happened all by coincidence, a girl with special needs came and her dream was to come and apply for the pageant," Spahi continues. "We decided as a committee, why don’t we create a special award, and give this girl her dream on stage? 

"During the competition we will present her with a sash and a crown with a special photo-shoot and a special evening gown. Following on from that we’re going do a campaign called “Gamalek Ya Masr” and it’s going to be all about special needs."

However Spahi has one other cause in mind - he wants to use the return of the competition as part of a motion to return Mother Egypt to her former glory.

"I believe that if this country is going to come back, we need to concentrate on all kinds of things like fashion, culture, beauty. We pioneered these things in the 50s. If you watch the movies from the 50s, it looks like Hollywood. I want Egypt to be as glamorous as it once was."

The Ms Egypt pageant takes place on September 21 in Sharm el Sheikh.

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