March 8, 2018

9 Impressive Middle Eastern Women Who Live Women’s Day Every Day

Zahra Lari trains for the Winter Olympics qualifiers. Courtesy of Nike

2017 has certainly been a stellar year of news for women across the region. Especially considering that Saudi Arabia has lifted two historic bans that will change social discourse for generations to come (women will able to drive from summer 2018 and in March 2018 cinemas will reopen). There have been a sequence of pioneering moments throughout 2017 that has made the global focal point turn to the Middle East and realise a greater balance of diversity across style and culture. Below highlights some of the key stories that revived the hastag #ArabFirsts or signalled a seismic shift in girl-power status.One to Watch in 2018: Shadia Bseiso

Courtesy of Shadia Bseiso/Instagram

Need-to-Know: Bseiso made history by becoming the first Middle Eastern woman to sign up to professional wrestling organization, WWE. The Jordanian athlete was selected from 40 competitors to join the WWE’s international roster following UAE try outs in April 2017.One to Watch in 2018: Raha MoharrakNeed-to-Know: Moharrak became a household name in May 2013 after she claimed the title of being the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest. “Climbing was never a decision, it was a calling.” That was a declaration Raha Moharrak made in conversation with Vogue Arabia way back in Fall 2016. News now breaks that the Saudi record-making climber has joined ranks with the likes of Bella Hadid, Tom Brady, and Cristiano Ronaldo as a ‘friend of the brand’ at Tag Heuer; making Moharrak the first Arab brand ambassador for luxury label.One to Watch in 2018: Nora Attal

Nora Attal is the December issue cover star of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Emma Summerton

Need-to-Know: First discovered by designer J.W Anderson, British-Moroccan model Nora Attal splits her time between studying and starring on the fashion week runway circuit for Burberry, Versus, and Loewe. For December 2017 she made her debut solo Vogue cover for Vogue Arabia, having starred alongside Stella Tenant and Kate Moss on the British Vogue November 2017 cover. The model is set to redefine success as a young Middle East talent with global pulling power. Her Instagram following may be under 14k at present but its only to set to double in the months to come.One to Watch in 2018: Salma Abu Deif

Photographed by Aisha Alshabrawy

Need-to-Know: The rising Egyptian actor and model has been making waves for her starring role in the Amr Salama-directed drama Sheikh Jackson, about a young imam who finds himself preoccupied with Michael Jackson’s music after the pop star’s death. The movie, which made its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, went on to be selected as the Egyptian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. Considering that her role as the main character’s teenage crush was her first movie stint, the 24-year-old’s budding career is undoubtedly on the up-and-up.One to Watch in 2018: Lara Scandar

Courtesy of Lara Scandar

Need-to-Know: The Egyptian singer and songwriter Lara Scandar has a loyal fan base of over 2.4 million followers on Facebook, and counting. 2017 holds promise for the Cairo-born singer, who has been putting in the hours at recording studios in Lebanon and LA with JMR music producer Jean-Marie Riachi. After tying the knot in a Zuhair Murad creation in Lebanon, the star is set to soar in 2018 with her positive message of self affirmation and girl-getter talent. Read the Vogue exclusive on her wedding gown.One to Watch in 2018: Ahd KamelNeed-to-Know: Jeddah-born Kamel is one of the first female Saudi actors to score a leading role in a Netflix series. She will play the role of a Muslim refugee named Fatma in the new series Collateral, set to premiere early next year. The show revolves around the mysterious shooting of a pizza delivery man in London. Kamel stars alongside Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan and actors John Simm, Billie Piper, and July Namir.One to Watch in 2018: Huda Kattan

CNI Portraits from the Mindful Luxury Conference in Oman, Muscat, 2017.

Need-to-Know: After landing major investment for her beauty line Huda Beauty, expect to see an increased presence of the beauty influencer and global beauty sensation Kattan as she roles out the next phase of her empire. After topping the charts as one of the most influential Arab women in social media, one can only watch as she blazes a new trial for generations to come. Read Vogue‘s facts that you probably didn’t know about the star here.One to Watch in 2018: Saba Mubarak

Saba Mubarak photographed by Ziga Mihelcic for Vogue Arabia, October 2017

Need-to-Know: After The Guest: Aleppo-Istanbul won the best national feature film award at the 5th International Bosphorus Film Festival, Jordanian actor Saba Mubarak, who stars in and co-produced the movie, spoke to Vogue exclusively about her win and the cause behind the project. “I chose this film because I deeply care about the refugee crisis, particularly the children.” She added, “Art can leave a lasting, positive mark in the ongoing issue. A lot of movies have already shed light on the refugee crisis and took part in finding a solution. This movie was able to ease my feelings of helplessness.” Watch this space. Here stands a woman of substance, style, and ambition.One to Watch in 2018: Zahra Lari

Zahra Lari for the Nike Pro Hijab. Courtesy of Nike

Need-to-Know: As a Nike Pro Hijab ambassador, the first Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari has already succeeded in breaking the obvious #ArabFirst of being an professional ice skater hailing from this Middle Eastern country, and becoming a global household name to boot. Using her sphere of influence to send out positive messages to girls the world over to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they experience, we look ahead to see what Lari does next.Related Read: The 10 Most Influential Arab Women on Social Media