For the past three years a competition to groom and pick the best men Dubai has to offer — called Mr Dubai of course — has been going on. And this year, because the organisers insist it’s grown bigger and better, we at The Directory decided to have a look. And we can safely say we came back with our faith restored in humanity.
Before the finals on December 12, we met the two men spearheading this ‘male beauty pageant’: Joe Hernandez, the founder, and Fouad Akram Raja, an ex-participant and Dubai-based model, and asked them what this year’s event is all about and how they plan to contribute to world peace.
“The opportunity for exposure and the process of participating builds the confidence level of the contestant.”
The finals of Mr Dubai 2014 will be held at SPiN Dubai, Wafi mall on December 12. Entry is Dh100 at the door. For more on the event, look for the Mr Dubai page on Facebook. Or call 055-9662716
Q: For those who’ve never heard about Mr Dubai, what is the event all about?
Joe Hernandez: Mr Dubai brings out the new faces who want to get highlighted and come into the limelight in the glamour world. Like any other male beauty pageant, it is a title for the most desirable man in Dubai. Keeping in mind that Dubai is a cosmopolitan city with a reputation in the world of fashion and with markets that target the best in showbiz and of course as the land of opportunity, Mr Dubai gives the opportunity to these young men.
Q: Why did you decide to start Mr Dubai?
Hernandez: I felt that there was a shortage of male recognition platforms and since I have been interested in pageants since my teenage years and used to follow every pageant especially related to the Philippines, I had the vision to start this event. I took the step in 2011 and there was no looking back.
Q: How has it grown over the years?
Fouad Akram Raja: The event has grown in many different ways as awareness spread every year. The contestants in the last two years have been from 10 to 15 different nationalities who are based in Dubai.
Being a former contestant myself, I can see the potential in this event for the coming years and because of the name, fame, limelight and the network that I have made because of Mr Dubai, we decided to join hands. Both of our vision for this event is to take it to the international level with the help and support from the right authorities in Dubai.
Q: Where are the Emiratis though?
Raja: We had two Emiratis last year and there were two this year. Unfortunately, because of job-related issues, they were unable to continue. Our main target is to give an opportunity to Emiratis in this kind of pageant. But the comfort level to join such competitions needs a little more push which we are working on for 2015.
Q: How many applications did you get and how many were put through?
Raja: We received about 90 applications from 20 different nationalities out of which the difficult decision was made to select the best 25.
Q: Tell us about the selection process.
Hernandez: The auditions take place three to four months before the competition and there is a panel of jury who make the selection. The contestants we have selected came from various professions, from models to bankers and cabin crew to personal trainers and students.
Q: What stages did the contestants have to go through?
Raja: The contestants have to go through rehearsals once selected, along with a lot of training on how to present themselves on stage and the discipline that that requires. They then have to prepare for a fashion show followed by the most important: the talent night. It then takes them to the final level where they have to face the most difficult Q&A round, based on which the winners are selected.
Q: How has Mr Dubai helped in the career of past winners?
Hernandez: Our 2011 winner Abhijeet Rahane was an aspiring actor and after winning he was offered a role in a movie in India as a lead actor. The opportunity for exposure and the process of participating builds the confidence level of the contestant and helps them in their career path in whichever field they are.
Q: What will the winner of Mr Dubai get this year?
Hernandez: The winner of Mr Dubai 2014 will get prizes worth Dh10,000. We at Mr Dubai will then register him with various agencies, depending on what he is pursuing.
Q: Most importantly though, how will Mr Dubai 2014 contribute to world peace?
Raja: As the aim of Mr Dubai is to foster brotherhood with a lot of nationalities, it already proves we are working on peace. Besides, our main aim is to take this event to an international level. Imagine Miss Pakistan and Miss India in the same place joining hands to support an event. That is a sign of world peace for sure.
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