by Marcelle Mansour
A huge number of distinguished guests from the Australian Arabic Communities Representatives were present including Mr Tony Khattar, President of Maronite Catholic Society, and his wife Mirrella Khattar, acclaimed Singer of the Voice of Charity. Mr Michel Douaihy former President of World Lebanese Australian Cultural Union, Mr George Ghosseyn owner of Ghossayn Group and his wife Professor Fadia Ghossyn, Mr Yves Khoury, President of Arab Heritage League, Mr Raymond Abouassi President of the Liberal Democrats Australia, Mr Tony Taouk, President of United Australian Lebanese Movement and many other heads of organizations, sponsors, businesspeople. Journalists included Ms Natalie O'Brien from Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Jamil Doueihy the, editorial director of Almestaqbal, the future newspaper, Mr Sayed Mikhael editor-in- chief of Alanwar, Mr Camile Shalala of Middle East Times and Mamdouh Sukkarieh from Observer and a crowd of representatives, writers, poets, artists, families, friends and many other supporters.
Ms Ella Elias and Mr Joe Chaar the Master of Ceremony (MC), excelled in hosting the event through their flexibility, intuitive insights, and skilful performance.
Speeches were delivered by the MPS, The Hon John Ajaka MLC praised the contributions made by the Australians Lebanese community in previous competitions and stressed his future continuous support for this kind of aesthetic contest that serves the Australian society. Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, MP spoke of the successful achievements made by the previous winners who participated in such event for it was not only about to raise funds but to contribute to society and to help others. Then the Hon Philip Ruddock expressed his admiration for what contestants can offer of culture, commitment and passion to serve the community.
Mr Joe Khoury O.A.M, the founder and the Director of Miss Lebanon Australia Beauty Pageant, in his speech, proudly highlighted the significance of this yearly magnificent event which is about “Celebrating the heritage through the eyes of the next generation, beautiful young Lebanese Australians facing the challenges of representing the interests of Beirut both Australia and overseas.” Mr Khoury added: “Beauty is not the sole factor within this event as we acknowledge the girls attributes in terms of their personality, their heritage, their strong cultural sense and commitment, their traditions, as well as their strong values, which contribute to defining the person as a whole.”
Thirteen beauty pageant contestants participated, aged from 17 to 24 and were all trained well of the world of beauty pageants. For a real beauty pageant does not only focus on the physical beautiful appearance of its contestants, but it also incorporated personality, talents and answers to questions of judged criteria. Looks and appearance never trump brains and education. It is in reality the combination of looks, smartness, personality, feelings and brains.
All Contestants were professionally judged by the panel judges of highly skilled individuals including a famous plastic surgeon. They were presented with gifts and awarded prizes as follows: Aisha Mehajer as Miss Personality, Armani Skaf: Miss Confidence, Amanda Khoury Miss Charismatic, Emma Jalalaty Miss Congeniality, Nicole Rizk: Miss runway, Rayana Kobesissi: Miss Style, Melissa Taouk: Miss Talent, Diana Mestow: Miss Model, Zoya Elias: Miss Natural, Danielle Bazergy: miss Swimwear, Abby Peirce: Miss Fashion, Jessica Zoghaib: Miss Photogenic, Stephanie Challita: Miss Elegance.
Nicole Rizk aged 21,was the winner of Miss Lebanon Australia 2015, the first runner up was Stephanie Challita aged 18, and the second runner up was Armani Skaf aged 17.
Cynthia Farah Miss Lebanon Australia 2014, who is studying through her third year as a Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sydney, amazingly worked very hard in the past year and has accomplished so many achievements. Cynthia made a very impressive speech where she stated: “Entering this pageant, for me, this was about being an ambassador for the Australian Lebanese community, having my voice amplified on my strong beliefs, and showing the true power of a determined young woman. I adamantly feel that we need to establish a viewpoint in society that looks past the superficial stigma associated with pageants and their contestants. Glitz and glamour are typically the first things that come to mind when thinking about these types of competitions, but I assure you, the majority of the things I have been exposed to in the past year are in no way glamorous.”
After she made her professional catwalk, Cynthia was presented with a painting of her portrait which was made by artist Marcelle Mansour, the (writer of these words) as a token of appreciation for her tireless work, for she is an example to young women by her proved successful efforts that made her a source of inspiration.
Ms Monie Gabriel, Head of Beauty and Art Department Management for Miss Lebanon Australia, together with Ms Suzie Taouk, Event Coordinator, are behind the successes of this remarkable annual heritage event. Monie who is professionally qualified from the internationally renowned Caracalla Dance Group in Beirut, have been working for the appropriate make up and style plus coaching the contestants tirelessly for the catwalk finale. Not to forget also that the pageant showcase Lebanese fashion design with evening dresses supplied by OMT of Sydney-based Lebanese designer Zouka.
The event was highlighted by a variety of entertainment shows of dance, performance and songs that delighted audiences, in particular the Labanese Arabic voice of famous singer Nemer Melhem and the haunting voice of vocalist, the Singer and songwriter Simon Waddell with her charm and expressive performance.
Mr Joe Khoury made a sincere Thank you to everyone who has made the event meaningful and memorable, including Antoine Maksoud the president of the Miss Lebanon world immigrant for his great support and dedication to the Miss Lebanon Immigrant Australia Beauty Contest, and also to the Minister of Tourism in Lebanon The Hon. Michel Faroun for his great efforts in performing the tourism in Lebanon. He also thanked his wife Alice and daughter Sandra for their great support throughout the years, the Panel of judges, Major sponsors and business for their tremendous support and commitment.
This year's Pageant has attracted a large number of people from Middle Eastern and various religious backgrounds that included both Christians and Muslims. The winner of the Beauty Contest 2015 will fly to Beirut to compete against contestants from more than 20 countries in the Miss Lebanon World pageant.
Congratulations to the Crown Winner Nicole Rizk, first runner up Stephanie Shalita
Second runner up Armani Skaff. Congratulations to Mr Joe Khoury the Director of Miss Lebanon Australia for continuing celebrating the pride of Australian Lebanese heritage, culture, beauty and community.