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Pageant in Saudi Arabia to Award `Inner Beauty`
MAY 08, 2009 08:18  
밃 beautiful mind makes a woman, not just a pretty face.

This is a lyric from the 1970s hit song 밃 Beautiful Mind Makes a Woman by Korean singer Nam Jin. In line with this lyric, there is a beauty contest that selects a woman not based on her physical beauty but her mind: the second 밠iss Beautiful Morals contest in Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press introduced the unique standard and behind-the-scenes story of this contest set to start Saturday.

The pageant evaluates candidates from across the Arab country who will spend 10 weeks together and be assessed on their virtues desired among Muslim women. The pageant is open to any Muslim women between ages 15 and 25.

One of the major criteria is respect and commitment for parents. Contestants attend classes and are quizzed on themes including discovering inner strength.

Pageant hopefuls will also spend a day with their mothers and will be graded on how they interact with their mothers. In July, the winner will receive 2,600 U.S. dollars and two runners-up will each get 1,300 dollars as well as other prizes.

Candidates need not care about their facial or physical looks because the standard is only "the beauty of the soul and morals." They will not show their face since they will wear veils from head to toe in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Plump women will also compete.

This year, the number of contestants has nearly tripled to 200 from 75 last year, showing the event`s rising popularity among Saudi women.

The organizers of the pageant seek to counter the onslaught of Western cultural influences flooding the Arab region through the Internet and television, the AP said.

"It뭩 an alternative to the calls for decadence in other beauty contests that only take into account a woman뭩 body and looks," said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

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