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The Meaning Behind the Palestinian Fabric on Vogue Arabia’s November 2023 Cover

Vogue Arabia’s November 2023 issue calls for humanity and pays homage to the doctors and journalists in Gaza. It features traditional Palestinian embroidery, in an ode to its culture, and has quickly become the most shared and engaged-with cover in the publication’s history.


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The fabric seen on the issue is covered in an embroidery also known as tatreez, which originated in Palestine 3,000 years ago, and has since carried a deep meaning in the region. It is also popular in other Levantine countries like Jordan, with each nation presenting some changes in the embroidery pattern. Over centuries, the skill has been passed on by women as an inter-generational practice and used as a means to tell the story of Palestine and its people. Each nuance in color and pattern denotes everything, from the region the wearer is from, to personal milestones including social and marital status. In 2021, the United Nations cultural agency (Unesco) also added tatreez to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

For this issue, Palestinian designer Zaid Farouki acted as a cultural advisor and helped recognize the various cities of his homeland that are represented by different motifs on the cover. The image above illustrates how all the patterns come together to form a rich tapestry that is most commonly seen on loose traditional garments known as thobes.

Queen Rania. Photo: Courtesy of RHCJO

It has also received global attention courtesy of public figures such as HM Queen Rania of Jordan, who is of Palestinian origin and has worn pieces with tatreez on multiple occasions. In 2018, when Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib made history as the first Palestinian and one of the two Muslim women elected to US Congress, she did so in a traditional thobe hand-embroidered by her mother.

Rashida Tlaib. Photo:

At a time when humanity is of utmost importance, this fabric stands as a key pillar in keeping Palestinian culture alive, just as it was done for centuries by the hands of the artisans, passing it from one generation to the next.

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