PRETORIA: President Jacob Zuma believes that the Miss World contestants can play a significant role in addressing challenges facing the world.
"There are many challenges facing the world such as poverty, disease and conflict, Miss World contestants can play a role in addressing these challenges," Zuma said during a welcome ceremony of the contestants on Friday, 20 November 2009.
Zuma said the contestants were ambassadors and should play a role in promoting peace, love and prosperity in the world, adding that they can also play a significant part in the economic challenges.
The president welcomed all 102 contestants who will be competing at the Miss World pageant to be held at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg, South Africa on 12 December 2009.
"We are very honoured to host you in our country. We extend our warmest welcome to our country. You are all beautiful and we welcome you to our beautiful country with beautiful people.
"Events such as Miss World bring the nations of the world together and unite us as one family. We wish you all the best and hope you will be good ambassadors," Zuma told the contestants, who were dressed in exotic designer wear.
Among the contestants is Miss South Africa Tatum Keshwar, who told BuaNews that meeting the president had boosted her confidence, but admitted that it would be a difficult competition.
"It is not going to be easy, all these ladies are beautiful and I'm expecting a tough competition. However, it is always advantageous to compete at home and I'm confident that I will do better," said Keshwar.
She added that the beauty pageant was a great opportunity for South Africa to show that it can host international events successfully ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Another dazzling contestant Miss Romania, Loredana Salanta told BuaNews that she was excited to meet Zuma.
She added that she was happy to be in South Africa calling it the "shining beautiful country" with friendly people.
The Romanian admitted that the competition would be tough but she was in South Africa to prove her abilities.
Miss Macedonia FYRO, Suzana Al Salkini, said because she has been studying South African history she had been looking forward to actually meeting Zuma.
Al Salkini, who recently visited Port Elizabeth, said she was impressed with the country and the city.
Like other contestants, Al Salkini confessed that the competition will be tough but she would do everything in her power to win the title.
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