This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Wanas, the holder of the Ms. Egypt 2023 title. An Egyptian national, she lives in Qatar and tells us her story.
“It’s not only about beauty it’s about your personality. Your problem-solving skills, patience and resilience.”— Sarah Wanas
OHLALA – Please tell us a bit about your background story in terms of career.
Sarah Wanas – I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and Fashion Design. After graduation, I worked as a business developer for four years in one of the biggest retail projects in Alhazm Doha. Later, I worked in AbuIssa Holding as their head of marketing for the whole group. This consisted of one of the first luxury department stores in Doha (Blue Salon) and at least 90 stores offering different retail products and categories also specialised in fine jewellery and fashion labels. I also worked for Alfardan Jewellery as their head of marketing. I am very passionate about my career, particularly jewellery. I have been to exhibitions everywhere in the world for jewellery.
OHLALA – What made you decide to compete as Ms. Egypt? How did you feel when you won the title?
Sarah – I had always been watching the show from a very young age. I wanted to join the contest a long time ago, but I was married and could not qualify due to my marital status. However, after separating from my husband, I could compete as a single mum and won the title. I have worked very hard for this, and it was very demanding to balance work, my daughter and the competition and finally win. I feel I’m changing the mindset in the Arabic world. Being 30, I am still very young, yet I was the oldest of the beauty pageant contestants and the only single mum.
OHLALA – Beauty pageant competitions are frequently seen as events just about beauty. For you, what do they really mean? What message did you want to spread by participating in one?
Sarah – It’s not only about beauty it’s about your personality. Your problem-solving skills, patience and resilience. The competition taught me a lot, particularly the Chairwoman of Ms. Egypt, Dr Amaal Rezk. She is an inspiration, a true leader. Being a single mother was a path of empowerment for me. It’s not easy to be the only person in the house in charge of the family. Responsibility at work and managing to achieve dreams that require time, effort and work are also part of it. The fact that I’m running solo without a partner made me learn to love my life and myself without that part in my life.
OHLALA – Now that you hold this title, what do you intend to do with it? Do you feel that it is a powerful tool to empower women? If so, how will you do that?
Sarah – What I will do, and not just plan on doing, is to work with philanthropy and charities. I want to shed light on awareness of child psychological abuse. What really ruins someone’s future and their view on life has a lot to do with childhood trauma. I also want to focus on orphanages, abandoned children and the difficult process of adoption and guardianship. I had a tough experience trying to adopt after I had my daughter. This process should be approachable and more convenient for our world today. Many mums and families wish to grow their families and give love and new homes to children who deserve a great life. Women’s empowerment is another topic. Many of us struggle to make ends meet, struggle to shine in a man’s world and, most importantly, many do not have the mindset of real women’s empowerment. I want to get involved in workshops that focus on developing leadership skills and independence. I also want to spread the word for the Ms. and Mrs Egypt competition to be internationally recognised.
OHLALA – You live in Qatar. What do you like most about living here?
Sarah – Qatar is my home, where I grew up and was raised. No matter where I go and how long I stay, I always go back to my home. I love Qatar dearly.