An Ottawa man is taking his talents across land and sea in hopes of being crowned Mr. Dubai 2013.
Koussei Kurbaj, 24, was born in the United Arab Emirates, where the competition is being held, grew up in Syria and moved to Canada five years ago.
The wedding planner, choreographer and Algonquin College business administration graduate has been putting together folk dances for Ottawa’s Lebanese and Syrian communities over the past four years.
He’s now competing against 19 other locals and ex-pats from around the world for the $20,000 prize.
“It would help a lot to brand myself and raising the name of my home city of Ottawa,” he told CBC News, from Dubai, via Skype.
Kurbaj said he’s been working out and dieting for more than two years under the watchful eye of his brother Hani.
“I had to get him off moussaka and tzatziki and have him doing French workouts for 20 hours a week at the gym: push-ups, bikes, weights,” Hani said.
“He really misses his junk food.”
”I miss Little Italy, where we had our beers … the shawarma in Ottawa, you can’t complain,” Koussej said.
Mr. Dubai named next week
Koussei has already placed second in the modelling portion of the six-week long pageant, which involves beach, formal and casual wear.
He said now preparing a stand-up comedy routine for the talent portion on Friday, including jokes about his German girlfriend’s pitbull Loco.
"There will be a couple of jokes about my Lebanese brothers and sisters but I don't want to lose my fans in Ottawa, I know there’s a big community" he said.
The competition also has a social media aspect as the contestants try to win as many “likes” on Facebook as possible.
Mr. Dubai 2013 will be named Dec. 13.