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Arab Olympians Nawal El Moutawakel and Dunya Aboutaleb Highlight the Region’s Power in Vogue Arabia’s July/August 2024 Issue

With the Paris Olympics just days away, the July/August edition of Vogue Arabia honors two Arab sportswomen whose influence extends far beyond the playing field.

Photo: Amer Mohamad

Hailing from Morocco, hurdler Nawal El Moutawakel became the first Arab and Muslim woman in history to win Olympic gold back in 1984, and taekwondo champion Dunya Aboutaleb is the first Saudi woman to earn direct qualification for the Paris Olympics. While our cover stars inhabit different eras in their careers, they share a common distinction: one of pioneering new frontiers in their fields, and standing for female empowerment in fields traditionally dominated by men.


At the Los Angeles Olympics four decades ago, El Moutawakel’s historic win at the 400m hurdle event marked a breakthrough moment that gave Arab women the self-belief and courage to take up sports, which had at that point been regarded as the preserve of men. “Being the first showed me and the entire planet that women from this part of the world are capable, they have dreams, and they have big goals in life,” she says. “I am so proud to have been able to open that door to so many young girls and to carry the Olympic torch, because that flame is going to be lit forever.”

Emerging from this trailblazing career, El Moutawakel is now passing the torch to the next generation of champions: ones like Saudi Arabia’s Dunya Aboutaleb. At just 26 years old, Aboutaleb is the first Saudi woman to earn direct qualification for the Olympics. “I saw that power, that flame within her and within every Saudi woman,” El Moutawakel says about Aboutaleb. “I will be there in August to attend her competition in Paris, and I would like to put a gold medal around her neck.”

Yusra Mardini

This feeling of pride for the female athletes of the region continues across the July/August 2024 issue. We meet with former competition swimmer and refugee of the Syrian civil war, Yusra Mardini, whose story captured hearts across the world, with Netflix film The Swimmers depicting her incredible journey in 2022. And then we step into the world of Egypt’s three-time Olympian swimmer Farida Osman, as she takes us through her life in looks.

Photo: Oscar Munar

In a celebration of the intricate correlation between athletics and fashion across centuries, the latest issue also delves into bodies, and how they influence design and style, both in the realms of sports, and day-to-day life. In a refreshing fashion story, women of all shapes and sizes come together in an unapologetic step for self-acceptance. From Egyptian model Logina Salah, who has embraced her vitiligo, and Police Academy graduate Shahad Budebs, who went on a journey to strengthen her body without worrying about physical changes, to motivational speaker and internet sensation Zainab Al-Eqabi, who has to learn to walk with a prosthetic limb, eventually finding solace in sports… these women are all breaking free of what they’ve been told perfection looks like and championing “every body” as being desirable instead. As Salah says: “Break the mold, be yourself, and the world will adjust.”

Speaking of boldly owning one’s identity, the July/August 2024 issue also highlights the journeys of women such as Zoya Sakr, Dubai-based founder of The Flower Society, who talks of her challenges growing up with big feet. “From an early age, I realized I didn’t fit the typical mold, literally and figuratively,” Sakr says. “By the time I was 13, my feet had already reached a US size 12, which was much larger than the average for girls my age. This led to a series of experiences that shaped my outlook on life and self-acceptance.” Today, the entrepreneur couldn’t be more comfortable with every feature that makes her unique — something that she’s also passing on to her child. “I have always been happy with myself and my body. My journey has also impacted how I raise my daughter. I want her to grow up feeling proud of her distinctiveness, just as my parents taught me, and to face the world with confidence and grace.”

Maguy Bou Ghosn. Photo: Lara Zankoul

Breaking both the mold and new ground this summer are artists from the region, who you’ll meet within the pages of the issue. On the heels of her hit Ramadan series, Lebanese actor and singer Maguy Bou Ghosn opens up about her career and what’s to come. Meanwhile, Lebanese singer on the rise Farah Nakhoul shares her story of determination and passion, one that has made her a symbol of hope and dedication in the world of music. From Lebanon we set sail to Rome, where on the eve of Bulgari’s 140-year anniversary, creative director Lucia Silvestri tours her favorite places in the Eternal City.

Farah Nakhoul. Photo: Sandra Chidiac

In the world of fashion, of course, no theme is off the table when it comes to inspiring new trends. In our pages, get ready to discover cutting-edge athleisure essentials steeped in the spirit of victory and powered by performance. Beauty looks aren’t far behind, with the colors of the Olympics reigning supreme. It’s time to go for gold!

Lucia Silvestri. Photo: Joseph Cardo

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