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Editor’s Letter: Step Into January 2022 With a Celebration of Creativity and Exceptional Talent


Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Photo: Ziga Mihelcic

As I’m writing my first editor’s letter of 2022, I can’t help but look back and wonder, where did 2021 go? Is it me, or did the year just fly by? Even with the world still battling a pandemic, I’m thankful that the past year was one of the most successful ever for Vogue Arabia in all aspects, from record-breaking issues in terms of number of pages, to magical cover stories that kept our reader engagement at an all-time high, and fantastic digital content offering new ways to reach our audience, such as augmented reality.

But in fashion’s best style, what is done is done. It’s time to move forward, look ahead, and jump into January with two feet – remember, this is a key year for Vogue Arabia as we turn five in March. A new page in fashion naturally asks for fresh talents, and so we are dedicating this issue to the creatives that are shaking things up in our region. In Qatar, Hassan Hajjaj, one of my favorite photographers, shot Abdel El Tayeb, founder of El Tayeb Nation, winner of the debut talent prize at the 2021 Fashion Trust Arabia awards. His clothes were modeled by my dear friend Adriana Lima, who also traveled to Qatar for the event in November. One of the things that I love about this shoot – to give you a glimpse of its backstage – is that it was completely improvised. After seeing Abdel in the Fashion Trust Showroom, I called Hassan and Adriana at 5pm, and asked if they could meet me the next morning to photograph this collection. I’m pleased they saw what I did and agreed to take part in this fantastic and colorful story without asking any questions. In an industry that can be so competitive, I’m always happy when more established people join forces to support someone as brilliant as the Sudanese-French designer, whose creations are inspired by his mother and the crafts of his country.


Behind the scenes: Manuel Arnaut on the sets of the January 2022 cover shoot with Abdel El Tayeb, Adriana Lima and Hassan Hajjaj

For the second cover story, we flew to Jeddah with Mous Lamrabat (another Moroccan photographer you need to follow), to work on a story that captures the blossoming of Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry. On the covers photographed in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Jeddah Old Town Balad, Red Sea film festival chairman Mohammed Al Turki and Saudi actors on the rise Mila Alzahrani and Fatima Albanawi exude talent and confidence, reassuring us that the young but energetic film industry in the Kingdom is ready to boom.

Lastly, I would love to invite you to jump to p108 and have a look at the portfolio where we compile some of the best images of the latest edition of the Ball of Arabia, held in December in Dubai, celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the UAE. We had the honor of hosting the biggest stars in the region, dressed in spectacular gilded couture gowns. I would also like to again thank the General Women’s Union for curating our cultural experiences at the event, and to the César of Arabic song, Kadim Al Sahir, for his performance. Our annual ball is definitely an event we will repeat this year, and something to look forward to in this year of celebration of our fifth anniversary. Now, let 2022 begin!

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