Blind woman wins Saudi `Miss Morality` contest: report

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2010, 17:55 PM IST

Jeddah: A blind woman beat back other pretenders to take the 2010 `Queen of Beautiful Morals` crown in the now-annual Saudi contest of spiritual and filial beauty, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Zainab al-Khatam defeated 10 other semi-finalists in the eastern city of Qatif, where black-burqa-clad contestants paraded not their physical attributes but their commitment to ultra-conservative Saudi family values, Al-Watan said.

Khatam, 24, has remained at home taking care of her family since finishing school, it said.

Runner-up Eiman Zain al-Din was a 20-year-old university student in business administration.

A picture in Al-Watan showed the new queen holding a bouquet and crown, her hands the only visible part of her body. The rest, including face, eyes and hair, was completely shrouded in the mandatory all-black Saudi abaya and veil.

This year`s finalists were winnowed down from a record field of 400 in the event, a three-month-long programme focused on promoting Saudi Arabia`s strict practices of Islam and filial piety.

Haifa Daoud, chair of the event, said it was a test of how the contestants performed through weeks of schooling and testing in social and ethical abilities.

"Each contestant underwent training in psychology, culture and law in Islam; family relations, public rights, social skills, health knowledge, volunteering... as well as cosmetics," Al-Watan cited Daoud as saying.

The winner`s prize was not reported, but last year`s queen, 18-year-old Aya Ali al-Mulla, won 5,000 riyals (1,333 dollars), a pearl and diamond necklace, a diamond watch and a free ticket to Malaysia.

The competition focused on contestants being able to demonstrate respect for their parents, families and society.

Parents are allowed to observe some of the events, but otherwise, following Saudi rules of strict separation of unrelated members of the opposite sexes, the women are secluded from the public and no men are present for the judging.

PTI