Indian Arnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe 2021 on Sunday, marking the end of this year’s contest in southern Israel.
Before the winning moment, the 70th annual Miss Universe pageant, hosted by Steve Harvey, featured a swimsuit and evening gown segment, as well as an interview portion for each of the contestants.
Israeli singer and international pop star Noa Kirel also delivered a performance in the competition, which focused on the climate crisis as part of a green agenda that matches Israel’s values.
In a speech on stage at the competition, Sandhu urged young people to “know that you are unique and this is what makes you beautiful, stop comparing yourself to others.”
“I believed in myself, and that’s why I’m here today”, she added, to the applause of the audience.
The competition took place in the seaside resort of Eilat, with 80 women from around the world including Morocco competing for the crown.
Sunday night was the last day of competition, with eliminations reducing the number of finalists until the last two remain. Nadia Ferreira of Paraguay and Lalela Mswane of South Africa were the first and second finalists respectively.
Moroccan Kawtar Benhalima, who previously paraded in a dark green velvet caftan embroidered in gold around the hem, cuffs and on the front, failed to woo the jury despite causing a stir on social media after its passage.
The contest was historic, because it was the first time in 40 years that Miss Universe Morocco returned to the contest.