Entrants for Miss Lebanon pageant practice their routine at Greenacre Community Hall.
15th April 2014
Photo: Wolter Peeters
The Sydney Morning Herald

High hopes: Miss Lebanon Australia entrants practise their moves. Photo: Wolter Peeters

To some it might appear to be just a beauty contest, but for the Arabic community the Miss Lebanon Australia Beauty Pageant is also playing an important role in breaking down stereotypes about culture and religion.

The pageant, which has become an annual event, this year includes 13 Muslim and Christian women of Lebanese heritage aged from 17 to 26.

All the young women chosen from the large Lebanese diaspora in Sydney, are high achievers studying a range of subjects from mechanical engineering to law and medical science.

The pageant's beauty and art director Monie Gabriel, said the contestants are an example of the new Arab woman.

''It has been the perception that Lebanese women often married young and concentrated on having children, but these days as you can see, the women are doing everything,'' said Ms Gabriel.

The women have been in training for weeks for tonight's pageant which was established 14 years ago by Joseph Khoury, director and founder of the Arabic Future Newspaper group.

The winner of the pageant will travel to Beirut to compete against women from more than 20 countries in the Miss Lebanon World pageant.

The pageant also includes the crowning of Miss Lebanon Charity Queen, a title given to the woman who raises the most money. The funds are given to children who have been orphaned and maimed by war in Lebanon.