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Editor’s Letter: Celebrating an Icon and the Unsung Heroes of Arab TV and Cinema in Our April 2024 Issue

Manuel Arnaut

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

The Arab world is perhaps one of the regions where television and cinema are almost sacred – maybe only matched by Hollywood and Bollywood. And we can all agree that Ramadan is that month when all eyes turn to the small screen, with viewers across the territory eager to consume the celebrated Ramadan series. Later in the year, it’s time for big cinema festivals in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It’s fair to say that Arabia’s entertainment industry is of unmatched influence, touching the lives of millions of viewers. And this month we are celebrating it.

At the top of this glamorous universe, for more than 47 years now, stands Youssra, who returns this month to our cover. Collaborating with the actor was an incredible and fun creative challenge. How do you showcase one of the most cherished and well-known Arab icons in a different light, who has already given life to so many characters on film, but also other magazine covers? Taking into consideration that Youssra is one of the most loved stars of all time, for this edition we decided to ask her to be… a dangerous villain! She loved the idea and I believe this is reflected in the videos and images we created this month. Wearing dramatic black fashion, there are no sequins, no gold, no Cleopatra eyeliner for this cover shoot. Instead, Youssra reinvents herself in a fearless and rock and roll version, a dangerous secret spy, proving she is the ultimate chameleon. As we say on the cover, all hail the queen!

Our second set of covers feature a mix of established and new actors, and also professionals from behind the cameras,  who are essential to the success of a movie or TV series. We decided to include them as we don’t usually celebrate or value who is backstage, but without writers, directors, assistants, and wardrobe and set designers, we would not have an industry. This also happens in the world of fashion. A collection – or a magazine like Vogue – can only come to life through the efforts of a group of people that works hard to create a beautiful product. And no task is more important than the other. I have to say that I personally feel very lucky to work with a talented team that helps me daily to make Vogue Arabia a reference in the region and globally.

Besides Tara Emad, Menna Shalaby, Razane Jammal, and Marwan Hamed, there are other top personalities we are featuring this month, conquering the fields of literature and music. In Paris, in the recently renovated Bibliothèque national de France, we had a conversation about the power of books with award-winning author Leïla Slimani, documentary film director Farida Khelfa, and architect Aline Asmar D’Amman. In Istanbul, in the historical Çırağan Palace Kempinski, we met with Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, who is taking Arab melodies to the most elevated stages. Their success is music to my ears.

Originally published in the April 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

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