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Editor’s Letter: Inside Our 2024 Saudi Issue Celebrating the Kingdom’s Fauna

Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut wears a tuxedo designed by Saudi brand ArAm by Arwa Alammari. Photo: Abeer Ahmed

Every June, working on the Saudi issue is one of the most exciting projects of our year. The stakes are high, and we can proudly say that since 2018, we have been able to produce truly groundbreaking editions that have created much buzz not only in the region, but also around the world. Some of my favorite covers are of HRH Princess Hayfa Bint Abdullah Al Saud driving a red convertible in the Jeddah desert (precisely in the month when the ban on women driving was lifted), and of Saudi model Shahad Salman photographed in Riyadh with Winnie Harlow, both proudly embracing their vitiligo, but also signaling the first time an international model was photographed in the Kingdom. All these covers come along with so many adventures and great memories, as in the past, access to the Kingdom was not as easy as it is today.

I’ve been privileged to travel to Saudi for almost a decade, and I’ve witnessed the incredible diversity the country has to offer, not only in terms of landscapes, but also fauna. I’ve seen baboons climbing the mountains of Asir, dolphins leaping in the pristine Red Sea, powerful horses in Riyadh… However, in this edition of Vogue, the stars are the Arabian leopard and the camel.

With fewer than 200 of its kind remaining in the wild, and listed as critically endangered, the Arabian leopard is the focus of intense conservation efforts spearheaded by the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Arabian Leopard Fund, and Catmosphere, the organization founded by HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

As the royal and Saudi Ambassador to the US pens in this month’s cover story, “The Arabian leopard has become revered in Arabian folklore and tradition, embodying the essence of grace, power, and resilience. Its depiction in art, literature, fashion, and poetry reflects a deep-seated appreciation for its graceful form and elusive nature.” To raise further awareness in honor of the feline, from this year onwards, the United Nations General Assembly has declared February 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard. We thus felt the urge to highlight this beautiful cat and its conservation efforts through the lens of fashion.

Maybe a more obvious icon of the Kingdom, the camel is another protagonist of June. This year, the country’s Ministry of Culture is tirelessly working on the elevation of this animal, E reaffirming the camel as a precious patrimony of Saudi Arabia – from a historical perspective, but also for the times ahead. The culmination of these efforts was the announcement marking 2024 as the Year of the Camel, with major events such as the recent parade of dozens of dromedaries crossing the streets of Paris. In AlUla, we met these magical creatures, photographed alongside HRH Princess AlJoharah bint Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The royal, a granddaughter of the founder of the Kingdom, is the perfect example of this bridge between the old and the futuristic Saudi. While Her Royal Highness moves through life anchored in the principles of honor and tradition, she is also an inspiring leader of the future, perfectly representing what Saudi women are today through her multiple business and philanthropic endeavors. Find out more about this formidable royal on page 84.

As we report in this month’s issue, Saudi Arabia is experiencing a deep transformation in all its industries, including fashion, entertainment, and tourism. But it is safe to say that these changes are the direct result of a fearless group of people, many of them women, who work with commitment towards the values of Vision 2030. As you turn the pages, meet Saudi astronauts, Olympic athletes, performers, fashion designers, policy makers, chefs, and many other brilliant humans who guarantee us that the future of the Kingdom is in very capable hands.

Originally published in the June 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

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