Saudi Arabia is preparing for the second annual Saudi Miss Beautiful Morals pageant. The women are completely covered in Burqa during the pageant. This contest is not about being beautiful physically, but about beauty through commitment to Islamic morals. See photos and a videos below.

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Saudi Women Burqa Pageant

The second annual pageant begins on Saturday, May 9th. The contestants must be between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. They will spend ten weeks being quizzed on topics such as “The Making of Leaders,” “Discovering your Inner Strength,” and “Mom, Paradise is at Your Feet.” In Saudi Arabia, beauty contests are generally for “goats, sheep, camels….”

The 2008 winner was Zahra al-Shurafa, a 21-year-old English major. Zahra has told this years participants that winning the contest is not what is important. “What is important is obeying your parents.”

This year, the number of pageant participants swelled from 75 in 2008 to triple that number for the 2009 contest. The winner receives $2,600 and the first and second runners-up receive $1,300 each.

The pageant is held in the predominently Shiite-sect town of Safwa. It is reported that 15 Sunni Muslim women are participating in the 2009 contest, which is making news and seen as a promising sign, as Sunnis and Shiites are generally not fond of each other.

Contestants are not judged on physical appearance and I’ve found no photos of the reigning Saudi Miss Beautiful Morals winner, Zahra Shurafa, and no photos of this year’s hopefuls. All judging takes place with the contestants wearing the Saudi traditional loose robe known as an “abaya,” along with a face veil known as “niquab.” A woman’s entire body is covered, with exception of the eyes. Saudia Arabia has the strictest rules for cover-up, and requires that all women be covered in public view. In general, the covering is know as a burqa.

Saudi Arabia does not allow their women to be “seen” but they do allow them to be married off at a very young age – as young as eight years old. In the meantime, we have this pageant winner declaring that obeying your parents is the most important thing. Accounts of this marriage obscenity are common. Here is a 11 year-old-boy who married his 10-year-old cousin. The same article from the Kuwait Times reports a 60-year-old man attempting to marry a girl of ten years old, a 15-year-old married-off to her father’s prison cell-mate. A father can “marry-off a 1-year-old girl as long as sex is delayed until she reaches puberty.”

So much for true morals in Saudi Arabia. A “Beautiful Morals” contest is a nice thing, and an important way to judge women or men, but what kind of citizenry allows the immorality of these early marriages? What kind of father allows this? I would guess it is all about money and dowrys, – and the word of their prophet, Muhammad. I take nothing from the young women participating in the Beautiful Morals contest, and I defend the right of Saudi women and all women to wear a burqa, but I do hope this younger generation puts those morals to work and stands up for their abused sisters.

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Saudi Women in Burqa

Saudi Women (Video)

Saudi Women Burqa (Video)

Photo Credit: Justin Hall