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Miss Universe organization disputes reports of Saudi Arabia's participation in 2024 pageant

Contestants pose onstage during the 2023 Miss Universe pageant on November 18, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Hector Vivas / Getty Images via CNN Newsource) Contestants pose onstage during the 2023 Miss Universe pageant on November 18, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Hector Vivas / Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
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The Miss Universe Organization is disputing a flurry of what it calls “false and misleading” reports of Saudi Arabia’s participation in its 2024 pageant — news that, were it true, would have marked the Middle Eastern country’s debut.

"No selection process has been conducted in Saudi Arabia, and any such claims are false and misleading," the pageant said in a statement provided to CNN and released on its official website.

"While Saudi Arabia is not yet among those countries fully confirmed (as) participating this year, we are currently undergoing a rigorous vetting process qualifying a potential candidate to be awarded the franchise and assigned national director," the statement continued. "Saudi Arabia will not have this opportunity to join our prestigious pageant until this is final and confirmed by our approval committee."

In social media posts shared to Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, among other platforms, on March 24, Saudi Arabian model and veteran beauty queen Rumy al-Qahtani wrote that she was
"honoured" to be competing at the Miss Universe pageant, and noted that her apparent selection marked a first for her home country. The post featured images of her wearing a sequined evening gown, glamorous tiara and sash embroidered with "Miss Universe Saudi Arabia."

Al-Qahtani’s announcement was widely-shared on social media and in news reports; it remains on her social media profiles despite the Miss Universe pageant now challenging its veracity. (In videos shared on her TikTok page since the pageant’s statement was released, al-Qahtani does not address the issue.)

"We do not know the reason why Miss Rumy al-Qahtani announced her candidacy, but if she wants to participate in the Saudi Arabia pageant, she will have to go through the same selection process as every other candidate," a Miss Universe spokesperson told CNN.

Al-Qahtani could not be reached for comment.

The pageant’s statement noted that over 100 other countries will be represented at the 2024 Miss Universe competition, which will be held in Mexico in September. This year will mark the first Miss Universe with no upper age limit set for its contestants — in previous years, those competing were required to be between the age of 18 and 28.

This year also mark the debut of a new "cultural heritage pageant" within the Miss Universe system, with the ratification of the Miss Universe Persia national director and board in recent weeks. The Miss Universe Persia pageant will be open to women “of Persian descent” and across the Persian diaspora; its winner “will join all other delegates from all over the world in the Miss Universe competition to be held in Mexico later this year,” the Miss Universe spokesperson confirmed.

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