Former Miss Lebanon on jury of Miss Universe UAE
Lebanese-Tunisian actress Nadine Nassib Njeim will sit on the jury of Miss Universe UAE with the winner going on to compete in Israel.
A former Miss Lebanon herself, Njeim will help select the UAE's contestant to the Miss Universe competition planned to take place in Eilat, Israel next month.
The announcement sparked controversy in Lebanon due to the country having no diplomatic relations with Israel.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) - an activist group belonging to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement - issued a statement on Thursday calling for a boycott of Miss Universe 2021.
"Eilat is built on the ruins of Umm al-Rashrah, a Palestinian village whose population was ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba," wrote PACBI, urging all participants to withdraw. Over 80 participants are expected to take part in the 2021 edition.
The 70th edition of Miss Universe will take place in Israel’s southern port city and resort of Eilat in December - the first time Israel has hosted the pageant.
Several Arab countries -including the UAE and Morocco - have agreed to take part in the show following the normalisation of diplomatic relations with Israel.
With over 12 million followers, Njeim is the most popular Lebanese actress on Instagram. Observers have questioned her decision to sit on the jury selecting the UAE beauty champion, due to the winning Miss UAE participating in the Israeli-organised cultural event.
Activists also launched a Twitter campaign under the hashtags #BoycottMissUniverse, #MissUniverse2021 and #theresnobeautyinapartheid. Candidates from Indonesia and Malaysia withdrew following the calls to boycott.
Eilat is a popular tourist destination located in the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea, bordering both Egypt and Jordan.