By Soukaina Abbou
By Soukaina Abbou
Rabat – Miss Morocco 2016, ostensibly a respectable beauty pageant to elect Morocco’s beauty queen, in reality seems to be a case of deception and exploitation.
The beauty contest known as “Miss Maroc” launched for the first time in 2012 by 3Box Event, an events-management agency in Marrakech. The second time it took place was 2015. This year’s pageant crowned the third Miss Morocco for 2016. While supposedly a legitimate beauty contest of Moroccan beauties in kaftans, questions have been raised as to whether the supposed “competition” is real or whether it was rigged and just a sham. MWN assigned an investigative reporter to find out the facts.
“Behind the Scenes” of Miss Maroc Academy
Scroll back in time to Friday, May 13, one week before the “election” of Miss Morocco 2016. The final contestants gather at a hotel in Marrakesh where they have a full week of successive rehearsals, exercises, and choreography before the big finale show, the ceremony at Morocco Mall, Casablanca. This is a private gala for the elite, with the presence of fashion brands’ representatives and some media.
Sixteen candidates are on board, “elected” throughout seven casting stations: Casablanca, Marrakech, Agadir, Fes, Meknes and Tangier. Their ages range from 18 to 25, and they include MA holders, BA holders, and… well heck! Some have no degree at all. “I postponed my baccalaureate exam for the next year,” an 18-year-old finalist says.
Whereas most beauty pageants these days include an intellectual or humanitarian component in their qualification criteria, this one seemingly does not. Why did the organizing committee accept candidates who have not attained any educational goal?
MWN asked about the pageant’s criteria for choosing the contestants. Some of the contestants who preferred to speak on the condition of anonymity said:
“When it comes to selecting the finalists, there are no specific criteria to check off, besides this: the president is the only member of the committee who chooses the candidates. He has the first and the last word.”
Education may be one criterion for selecting Miss Maroc. However, a healthy body, healthy mind and beyond the body, the soul are all taken into consideration according to universal beauty contest standards. As Federica Tamarozzi and Anne Monjaret, ethnologists, state in their article on beauty contest criteria, the definition of beauty for competitors and consequently for representations of the body takes into account both the measurable and the non-measurable, which interact throughout the event.
The candidates spend a 10-day training under the supervision of coaches and professionals in the field of choreography and modeling. They live as roommates together during the training; they get to know each other and open up to one another about their motivations and aspirations. They also criticize and observe the process of electing the Miss Maroc.
But what is really going in with the Academy? Some have commented as to “how some finalists don’t match the requirements and the criteria and they still take part in the competition.” According to one finalist who preferred to speak on the condition of anonymity, the competition is “filthy and fishy”:
“We all already know who is going to be Miss Maroc 2016. We have spent two days together now and we can tell who is the only candidate who is having a special treatment . . . All the coaches, the organization committee members know her personally, take selfies with her, call her by her name. She even shares the room with one of the coaches, an international model and her best friend. They are making it obvious that she is the winner ….. On the top of this; she has a tattoo and apparent plastic injections, which violates the universal criteria and standards of electing the Miss.”
Indeed, the one the speaker referred to was crowned Miss Morocco 2016 as all the finalists expected.
Rumors have been trending on social networks criticizing the winner for having resorted to plastic surgery. Dr. Tarick Smaili, a plastic surgeon in California, congratulated her via Instagram, posting her photo. Hashtags of thesmileySarah; her previous Instagram username and Dr T. Smiley, noticeably having matching usernames, emerged in overflowing humorous comments on his post.
Many social media users took this to mean that the 25-year-old Moroccan was Smaili’s client and accused her of winning the title by resorting to “fraudulent” methods.
Sources acquainted with the Miss Morocco 2016 organizing committee told Morocco World News that “there is no doubt that Sara Belkziz has undergone several plastic surgeries.” MWN tried countless times for three days to reach Sara Belkziz to get her version of the facts, but her phone remained off. She did not answer the questions we left on her voicemail.
Back at the Miss Morocco Academy, three finalists left the training and quit the competition due to the ambiguity of their contracts and the apparent unfairness in their dealing with the candidates. They clearly perceived that the organization committee was supporting one candidate who would eventually be the winner. Loubna Mahloub and Ibtissam El Yousfi explained to MWN the reasons why they quit the contest:
“Besides the haziness of the contract that states only the firm enslaving obligations of the candidate, since the first day of the competition we have noticed that the Miss had a special ‘luxurious’ treatment from of the jury” Ibtissam El Yousfi said.
On the same wavelength, Loubna Mahloub added:
“It’s no more a competition for me when I see some candidates with plastic injections, others who don’t match the universal beauty contest standards in terms of class and education. This is just pathetic.”
The actuality of three finalists leaving the competition on the third day of the training and just four days before the finale caused the organization committee to face a reputation-threatening challenge and rush to contact new candidates. According to our sources, one of them is a former girlfriend of the president of the organization committee.
Nino, the Big Boss
Naamane Touimer, known as Nino by his friends, is the president of the organization committee. He is an Algerian national who lives in Switzerland and manages some projects in Morocco, such as Miss Morocco. He graduated from a school of civil aviation as a Manager of Ground Handling of General Aviation in 2002.
Naamane is the CEO and General Manager of several production and event management agencies, Smartprod, Night Star Maroc and 3Box Event, which organizes the Miss Morocco competition.
3Box Event was created in 2011, based at C.E Invest, an accounting office in Marrakesh with a capital of MAD 10,000. The legal status of the organized competition remains ambiguous for MWN and even for Miss Morocco insiders. The team of Nino gets on his nerves whenever they ask him about the legal authorization. The big boss turns into an angry devil and shuts them down, an insider source confided to MWN.
As stated in the sponsoring file, the team consists of Moroccan and international collaborators. The “big boss” couldn’t keep it fair. One of Leila Hadioui’s friends told us that the document mentioned her, as well as Miss England 2015 as collaborators to charm the sponsors. But in fact both celebrities rejected Nino’s request for collaboration.
MWN wanted to know more about president Nino. Two of the contestants told MWN that Nino did not pay people who worked for him.
“His team members did all the hard work and they did not even get paid for their efforts. This reflects the lack of professionalism and a megalomaniacal attitude in his character as a Big Boss.”
However, Nino dismissed these “accusations” and claimed that he “lost his own money” in the preparing the beauty pageant.
“The members of the committee would get 10% of the profits if the sponsors offered cash… Since Miss Morocco competition has made absolutely no financial earnings, there is no income to provide. Why does no one seem to accept to offer me a 10% recompense of my money loss?” he told Morocco World News.
Still, the president has not revealed any details regarding his financial loss and alleged 0% of revenue. In contrast, leaks from some contestants affirmed with confidence that the profits had in fact reached MAD 300,000, which remains to be confirmed by Nino. As assumed by our sources, the sponsors actually offer presents to the finalists, the runner-ups and the Miss. Nino prefers to keep sponsors’ gifts as souvenirs for himself and his family.
Flaws and Failures Continue
The Miss Morocco 2016 pageant has huge flaws, both in terms of the organization and in terms of the lack of objectivity. The reputation of the Miss Morocco competition has taken a tumble. The project “Miss Maroc” is mistaken for the official national beauty contest.
The Miss Morocco competition has failed a number of times and in its three editions. Naamane Touimer is trying to give it more luster and credibility, but the ploy still does not seem to work.
According to our sources, the winner of Miss Morocco 2016 Sara Belkziz and the president Mr. Nino agreed in advance to hand her the crown of Miss Morocco upon the condition that Sara pay a big check so she can participate in Miss World.
A finalist, who was elected among other runner-ups, lost her title once she asked president Nino for gifts and her ticket back to Saint Tropez. The finalist had arrived in Morocco on May 13 to participate in the competition and she won the title of a runner-up. However, she eventually received nothing as a reward. In addition to that, Nino promised to take charge of her roundtrip tickets. But he never honored his word and he deprived her of her title instead.
MWN’s investigation revealed that Nino is running a business using the name of a sovereign country of which he is not a citizen and benefitting financially from exploiting the beauty of young Moroccan women full of ambition and enthusiasm who only wish to represent their country in a fair competition.
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