TRIBUTE: Lebanon’s first and only Miss Universe winner Georgina Rizk

TRIBUTE: Lebanon’s first and only Miss Universe winner Georgina Rizk

A huge explosion shocked Lebanon’s capital of Beirut on Tuesday, August 4 leaving extreme damage, dozens dead and thousands injured according to the country’s health ministry. The Lebanese government said that highly explosive ammonium nitrate stored at the blast site caused the explosion.

Amid the current health pandemic and economic crisis, who would have thought it could get any worse for Lebanon. The aftermath stirred memories of war in a city that had been calm in recent years. is one with the people of Lebanon in this difficult time and we are hoping for their soonest recovery from this sad tragedy.

As a tribute, we look back to the country’s first and only Miss Universe winner in the last 49 years.

Georgina Rizk was crowned Miss Universe 1971 at age 18, making her the first-ever woman from the Arab world to win the international title.

The then model became an instant famous personality and a celebrated icon in her country after beating almost 60 other beauties to win the pageant in Miami Beach, Florida, USA. Her historic win made headlines across the world and it was just the beginning.

A month before she was due to crown her successor, an attack at the Lod Airport in Israel (now Ben Gurion International Airport) killed 17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico along with other victims.

Due to the possible retaliation from the massacre and out of fear for her life, Georgina was not allowed to attend Miss Universe 1972 held in Dorado, Puerto Rico.

A few years after her reign ended, Georgina married Palestine Liberation Organization’s leading figure Ali Hassan Salameh in 1977 while Lebanon was facing civil war. Her then-husband whom she married “purely out of love,” was killed in 1979 by agents of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, while she was pregnant with their child.

Georgina was often involuntarily drawn into the regional conflict due to the current political events at the time, with her country, caught up in the Arab-Israeli war.

In 1990, Georgina remarried with renowned Lebanese singer Walid Toufic and the couple was blessed with two children.

Decades after the death of her first husband, their controversial love story inspired Lebanese artist Alfred Tarazi’s project “The Lovers” and a television drama series “The Red Prince” starring Syrian actor Taim Hassan.

After almost half a century since she won Miss Universe, Georgina remains to be the only woman from a Middle Eastern country to win the pageant in its 68-year history.

Photos: Miss Universe