Fostering brotherhood. That, says organiser Joe Hernandez, is the main idea behind the Mr Dubai pageant.
“We live in a cosmopolitan city, and I wanted to give guys of different nationalities and social backgrounds the opportunity to mix and make new friends,” he says. “It is also an opportunity for the contestants to challenge themselves.”
That sentiment is shared by Farhad Chabook, 31, who walked off with the title at the event, held at the Dubai Dolphinarium on Friday night. “This has been a very good opportunity for me,” says the Iranian who relocated to Dubai six months ago. “I wanted to try myself, and I’m very happy I entered.
“This is my first time entering a competition like this, and it was a challenge. I didn’t have any idea what to expect, and language was definitely an issue, but I’m always trying myself.”
An interior designer by trade, Chabook is establishing himself as a model and personal trainer. He says he was barely able to speak English when he arrived, and is elated at his win. “I will definitely enter again.”
Chabook also won the best in beachwear, streetwear and talent competitions.
Born and brought up in Dubai, Pakistani Essam Ali, 26, was named first runner-up. No stranger to the ramp, the professional model and actor says the competition was a big opportunity but cites bad organisation as a major challenge.
Tariq Malik Shiqwara, 28, has also lived in Dubai his whole life. The Jordanian second runner-up, an engineer, enjoyed the experience. “I will remember it my whole life. I love Dubai, and Dubai is all about participating. I thrive on challenges, so the competition was good for that.
“I feel I gained a lot, and made many new friends. This wasn’t my first modelling experience, but it was definitely the biggest.”
This is the second year Hernandez has organised the pageant. Still in its infancy, he says he scoured the malls “looking for guys to enter”. Entry was also done through Facebook and referrals.
The contestants were being judged on physical beauty, personality, talent, fashion sense and audience impact.
“I’m very happy with the outcome,” he says. “Our winners are very deserving. But every one of the 23 contestants is a winner by accepting the challenge to compete.”