Babes of Belgium
Twenty Aphrodites passed softly through the magical land of El-Gouna. Amira El-Naqeeb dared to compare
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From right: second lady of honour, Anna Decerf; Miss Egypt 2006 Fawzeya Mohamed; Cecile Fache, operations manager in El-Gouna; Ignace Crombe, organiser of the contest with two members of the jury
I had an ego boost as a woman when I saw the flyers of the 20 candidates for Three Corners Miss Belgian Beauty pageant plastered in the reception of the four-star Rihana Inn, a property of Three Corners Resort. "Well they're not that beautiful after all," I said arrogantly. It wasn't until I was shoved into the rehearsal room with 20 stunning beauties that I realised the bitter reality. "Ah, these pictures haven't done you justice, girls," I grinned. Although I was having a good time listening to the dancing tunes, they were growing restless with all the moves they had to learn and tired of their trainer bossing them around. I figured then that the world of beauty contests isn't all allure and splendour after all.
The beauty contest is now in its 16th year, and the sixth year for El-Gouna to be playing host to the annual event. The 20 beauties were selected from amongst 300 candidates from throughout Belgium. "This is considered their first real test," said Tony Van Geele, the communication manager of the Three Corners Resort, and the coordinator of the Three Corners Miss Belgian Beauty in El-Gouna Red Sea resort.
Only 12 golden girls will be chosen out of the 20 for the finals on 21 October in the casino Knokke on the Belgium coast. "There was a change in the concept of the contest this year. In the past it was an ordinary selection. This year they took it one step further. The girls are followed by a team for presentation skills, table manners, and psychological balance. They are adding more aspects to being Miss Belgium," Van Geele added.
Catching up with the beauties in their leisure time on the pool was a great opportunity to see if there really were some brains in the heads on these beautiful shoulders. As I approached the stunning brunette Lesile Metdenancxt, she seemed very shy at the beginning. "This contest gives us a chance to do things that we cannot do in normal life," she told me in her broken-to-million-pieces English.
When free, I set out to explore El-Gouna on one of the guided tour boats. Every time is a new feeling. Is it the shores of El-Gouna which are garnished with beautiful villas and townhouses soothed by pastel pinks and lemon yellows? Is it the sapphire waters and the azure sky? Or is it just the mystic feeling of being there that makes you never want to leave? I couldn't help contemplating the beauty of this haven and risking the neck strain from peering all around at the eye-popping sights surrounding me.
On the night of the pageant, the setting wasn't as glamorous as expected. It took place in the open air Mirage discotheque where the lighting made me feel like I was in a cave, not a beauty pageant. However, the two presenters' sense of humour lightened up the place a bit. Also the active multi-national animation team presented some of their best dances. Samih Sawiris, the founder of El-Gouna who made the dream come true, was among the jury, along with Hamza Selim, El-Gouna general manager, Rolf Boehmer, manager of Golf Fitness Club, Ole Christensen, general manager of Sultan Bey Hotel and Fawzia Mohamed, Miss Egypt 2006.
The 24-year-old Anka Rectem snatched the Three Corners Miss Belgian Beauty title which came as a surprise to many people. Some girls appeared to have given more solid performances and were far more attractive.
The Belgian girls notwithstanding, whatever became of the goddesses of beauty, beautiful, brazen and beguiling? Nobody was able to unravel their secrets. Their mysteries made me at peace with the fact that every woman has beauty secrets all her own.