Ahlame Hajji has climbed to prominence in the world of beauty pageants, winning three coveted international titles: Miss Middle East 2011, Miss Asia 2016, and Miss Globe 2016. Yet, her story is not merely a tale of tiaras and spotlights; it is a narrative of diverse experiences and profound commitment. In an engaging conversation with Ahlame, we delve into her life’s journey, her deep connection to Erbil, and her unwavering dedication to humanitarian endeavors.
Ahlame’s unique heritage reflects her multicultural background, as she has an Iraqi mother and a Moroccan father. Holding French citizenship, she studied economics at a French university. The journey that led her to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), was far from premeditated – it was serendipity.
“I participated in a big festival [in the KRI],” Ahlame explains, “After that, I fell in love with Erbil and its people.” This love, she says, is rooted in the traditions and clothing styles shared by the Kurdish and Moroccan cultures.
Her attachment to Erbil runs deep, transcending the familiarity of cultural parallels. Ahlame’s praise is not reserved for Erbil alone; it extends to the Kurdish people, their warmth, hospitality, and genuine respect for foreigners. “My love and attachment to Erbil is due to several reasons,” she notes, “including its hospitable people, who respect foreigners, and the security and stability in the Kurdistan Region.”
Ahlame’s observations span beyond the city’s streets to its societal fabric. She commends the peaceful coexistence among diverse religious communities in Erbil and across the KRI. “There is no difference between Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Christians, and Yezidis,” she points out. “They all live in peace and brotherhood and have equal rights and duties, which is a great pride for Kurdistan.”
Her admiration for Kurdish women is heartfelt. “I have read and heard a lot about the lives of Kurdish women and the tragedies that they have suffered,” Ahlame says. “This is an experience that deserves respect and praise.” She acknowledges the strength and resilience of Kurdish women who have persevered through life’s hardships, balancing their roles as housewives while striving for a better future.
Culinary experiences are another part of what draw’s Ahlame to Erbil. After several years in the city, she fondly reminisces about the Erbil Dolma, a dish that has left an enduring impression on her palate. “I have eaten all kinds of Kurdish food –especially the Erbil Dolma, which I will never forget,” she admits.
Beyond her pageant and culinary interests, Ahlame is deeply involved in humanitarian work. She founded Children's Dreams, an organization headquartered in Paris and dedicated to supporting underprivileged children worldwide. “One of my passions is helping children, wherever they are,” she says.
Ahlame’s philanthropic endeavors span Morocco, various African countries, and post-conflict regions like Mosul, and her humanitarian dedication stems from her personal experiences. “Many of the terrible scenes we see in our daily lives now make me cry,” she admits, particularly the suffering of refugee children caught in wars they did not initiate. Her visits to refugee and internally displaced people (IDP) camps have left a profound impact on her, reinforcing her commitment to make a difference.
As a jury member of the Miss Iraq pageant, Ahlame sees her role as an honor and an opportunity to inspire optimism. “It is a wonderful experience, especially after the difficult situation that Iraq has gone through in recent years,” she says.
In addition to her humanitarian work, Ahlame has discovered that she has a talent for comedy. “A true actor is one who can excel in all roles,” she explains, “I felt I would succeed in comedy as well.” She eagerly anticipates sharing more laughter with her fans during Ramadan 2024.
Ahlame’s career has encompassed both acting and media work, enabling her to connect with diverse cultures and art forms. “I like acting more and it has helped me learn about myself,” she says. With her passion for her craft and a wealth of experience, she looks forward to bringing more memorable performances to the screen.
Ahlame Hajji stands as a multifaceted personality, whose pageant achievements align seamlessly with her unwavering commitment to humanitarian causes. Her deep connection to Erbil, her dedication to children, and her versatile talents make her a remarkable figure who continues to make a positive impact on both national and international stages.
Hiwa Selah is both a journalist and a musician, having also served as the head of the Music Department at the Fine Arts Institute in Rwandz.