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“Independence is everything” — Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi on Shaping the Artistic Legacy of Sharjah with Courage and Vision

Hard-working and passionate, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi is shaping the artistic legacy of Sharjah – and her brother – with courage and vision…

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears jumper, Sheikha Hoor’s own; dress, socks, shoes, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Tick, tick, tick, tick. “Done. My meeting in Sharjah is pushed back and now I can stay one more day,” pronounces Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, her long, white-painted nails swiping the screen of her phone. Busier than ever, the Emirati royal is in Marrakech for our cover shoot, after spending more than a month in Pakistan, where she curated the second edition of the Lahore Biennale. For this project, the president and director of Sharjah Art Foundation took over 13 locations across town – “I wanted more but they were like,‘Hey, slow down,’” she laughs – giving new life to spaces such as an abandoned planetarium or a site perilously close to a chaotic cricket stadium. “I think I’ve been doing my job for 18 years now. And although I’m always busy, it’s a great honor to be invited to do these things,” she shares with her tender but assertive voice. “Nobody goes to Pakistan. Everybody goes to India. Everyone keeps saying, ‘Oh, but it’s so dangerous,’ but it’s not risky at all. As a woman, I walked down the street on my own and it was fine – even late at night. The city is so beautiful. Lahore is a place to fall in love with.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi wears jumper, her own; dress, socks, shoes, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; pants, Rochas; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

I watch the royal cruising carefree through the Marrakech medina with this same determination, exploring with curiosity a little store that sells rugs and ottomans, followed by a stand with accessories. Although she is the daughter of HH Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, one of the most loved GCC royals, don’t expect her to manifest as a fairytale princess. In fact, Sheikha Al Qasimi hates to be called “princess.” Instead, she is a practical woman, with a great sense of humor, who speaks eight languages and travels carrying her own luggage.“My parents pushed us to learn languages and see the world. That was always part of our upbringing, and we were never raised as royals. We were just raised to do everything ourselves. Even when I was in school and people would say, ‘Oh, so and so’s daughter is studying here…’ I would just sit there rolling my eyes. People didn’t know about us. Why would they?” She reflects when asked how it was to grow up in a royal home. “Our childhood revolved around studying. My mom pushed us. We had tutors after school and on the weekend. We just studied, studied, studied. And I like that. This gave us structure to understand that we have a job that comes with tasks and obligations. And having a job is important, as independence is everything.”

“Having a job is important, as independence is everything”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears jumper, own; dress, socks, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; pants, Rochas; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

For Sheikha Al Qasimi, life would probably be easier if she only had “a” job. Instead, her CV is filled with several big titles, and as many hats as one can wear. Along with leading the Sharjah Art Foundation, she serves as the Sharjah Biennial director, playing a pivotal role in positioning the emirate as a revered art hub regionally and internationally. Sheikha Al Qasimi is also president of the Africa Institute of Sharjah and chair of the board for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, which inaugurated its first edition in November 2019. No less impressive is her role on the board of directors for MoMA PS1 in New York; Kunst-Werke Berlin e. V. in Germany; and Ashkal Alwan in Beirut. The list goes on and on. And let’s not forget her passion projects: she is a proud, self-taught restaurateur, owning Fen and Abayomi restaurants, both in Sharjah. “I’ve always been active mentally, and want to do and learn things. I feel a lot of reward in what I do. I’m exhausted, but it’s worth it,” says the Sheikha. When asked if she considers herself a workaholic, she pauses and smiles, “Oh, definitely. I think it’s good to work.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears dress, Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; necklace, Jean Paul Gaultier. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

While Sheikha Al Qasimi may now be a reference in the art world, she had to prove her talent like anyone else. She tells me she had to work double as hard to establish her points and contest any notions that her job was given to her as a result of family ties. In a previous interview with Vogue Arabia, she shared that when she took over the Sharjah Biennial, founded in 1993 by her father, the event was in desperate need of a revamp, being held in a convention center. At the age of 22, with a handful of staff, she completely redefined the program, moved it to a new location, hung art, and swept the floors herself. “During a trip to Berlin with my father, we visited the Documenta11 contemporary art exhibition. I was inspired by the way contemporary art connected with the real world, politics, and social issues,” she explains. “I wanted to know why our biennial wasn’t looking at things like this. I wanted to see how the process worked in Sharjah. I promised my father I wasn’t going to interfere, but of course, I did. I asked why we were in a trade/expo center, even though we have an arts area. Old Sharjah Biennial was like an art fair, but we’re not a commercial art fair, we’re non- profit and cultural. The organizers quit, so it became my job.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears dress, Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; rings, Zohra Rahman; pearl ring, Sheikha Hoor’s own. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Today, Sheikha Al Qasimi oversees a staff of 200 and the Sharjah Biennial is consistently rated as one of the top 10 biennials in the world.

The sun is setting in Marrakech, filling the terrace on top of Hassan Hajjaj’s riad with a golden light only found in this city. Although she was photographed the day before, Sheikha Al Qasimi has decided to visit the venue, while Egyptian star Yousra is being shot by the Moroccan photographer, with a live band playing traditional local songs. As we sit in a quieter place, we start discussing her new role as creative director of the London-based menswear brand Qasimi, founded by her twin brother, Sheikh Khaled Al Qasimi, who passed away abruptly last July. “You know, it’s very hard. It’s very emotional. I don’t think that I’ve grieved, to be honest. In the beginning, it was more about looking after my parents and my sisters. He was my twin and we had such a connection… I don’t feel like he’s gone sometimes, and I often dream of Khaled,” she shares. Honoring her brother’s life and passion, she stepped into his shoes, following as closely as possible the five-year plan he left behind. “For me it’s important to make this as successful as I can for him, now that he is gone. It’s hard because although fashion and arts mix, the commercial side is new to me. I’ve always worked in nonprofits; now, it’s different.”

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More than just the business side, Sheikh Khaled’s presence is felt more than ever in the most recent designs, celebrating his life and heritage. One of the best examples is the first collection Sheikha Al Qasimi has overseen, where the rising sun – a motif linked with Sharjah’s iconography – is reinterpreted in some looks, now as a sunset, paired with the sentence “To rise again.” The Sheikha also decided to include two quotes she found on her brother’s mood board, hanging in his office. Written on T-shirts and sweatshirts, the sacred expressions “For I am near” and “We are never parted” are touching and clear reminders that Sheikha Al Qasimi will never forget her twin, and the company is in the best hands possible. “It will always be my brother’s office, my brother’s team, and my brother’s label.”

Originally published in the March 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

Photography Hassan Hajjaj 
Style Katie Trotter & Lisa Jarvis
Creative producer Laura Prior  
Art accomplice Ebon Heath 
Second assistant Tariq Hajjaj
Local producer Marie Courtin 
Hair Sadek Lardjane 
Makeup Jo Frost
Photography assistants Hasnae El Quarga and Meriem Yin
Style assistant Alexandria Lefevre 
Runner Yazid Bezaz, Abdelali Boukrimi, Mohammed Ajib
Studio Riad Yima, Marrakech
With special thanks to Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

Read Next: 10 Life Lessons to Learn from Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi

This Poignant Conversation of Dr. Sara Al Madani and Her Mother Will Make You Call Your Mom Right Now

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Perfumes are so deeply personal, and have the power to trigger emotions and evoke memories of cherished moments and relationships in your life. And what’s more significant than the special bond between a daughter and her mother? Do you recall your earliest memory with the most important woman in your life? Is it her smile, her touch, or her smell? Rasasi, the family-owned, Middle Eastern perfume house, with 40 years of mastery in perfumery, certainly understands the importance of the extraordinary bond a daughter shares with her mother, celebrating the unique relationship through their iconic line-up of fragrances.

In the sweet video above, ahead of Mother’s Day (March 21), Emirati entrepreneur Dr. Sara Al Madani and her mother open up about the significant role fragrance plays in Arab culture, passing down timeless scents through generations, and their favorite perfume from Rasasi’s inimitable range of fragrances.

Now Read: These Celebrities Can Prove That Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

Here’s How To Add Some Color To Your Smokey Eye Makeup

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Toni Malt, the Middle East‘s leading international editorial makeup artist, author of makeup book Transform and owner of the prestigious Toni Malt Makeup Academy, shares her expertise in the first part of a series of educational and inspiring ‘how to’ make up tutorials designed specifically for Vogue Arabia’s readers.

Curated as a clever step by step guide to achieving the most sought after looks from the season at home, Toni guides us through a bold, feline, metallic smokey eye with insider tips and knowledge taken from her exclusive masterclasses.

Now Read: 7 Easy Practices To Help You Keep Track of Your Health This Year

Model: Tatyana B at Wilhelmina Dubai
Video: Jules Bek
Makeup assistant: Miriam Cavallin at Toni Malt Academy

Behind-the-Scenes of Ciara’s First Ever Vogue Cover

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Did you know that prior to Vogue Arabia’s Spring 2019 cover shoot, Ciara was afraid of horses? “It’s funny because growing up I loved horses, and I always admired their beauty,” the star says recalling the nightmarish incident when she lost control of her ride during a horseback-riding excursion on the beach. “When my ride decided to take off and gallop in another direction, I saw my entire life flashing in front of my eyes,” she states. The star certainly got the chance to overcome that phobia in the February 2019 issue. Wearing a bohemian Saint Laurent dress, with her long, black hair flowing in the wind, Ciara takes control of two magnificent stallions belonging to UAE royal HH Sheikha Fatima Rashed Al Maktoum.

It’s the Grammy award-winning singer’s first Vogue cover, one that she is undoubtedly proud of. “This shoot was a dream. I overcame my fears of working with horses again too! So proud. God is good,” she wrote on Twitter when the English and Arabic covers were unveiled this week.

Indeed, the 33-year-old has plenty to be proud of. But the certified hitmaker — her debut single Goodies went triple platinum — counts motherhood as her biggest accomplishment of all. “I am an only child, so I always had a strong desire to have siblings, and that triggered my will to have more kids. They are an extension of my legacy and they keep me young. Motherhood definitely gives you a new conscience. My kids help me to feel motivated and keep things in perspective,” said the mother of Future, four and Sienna, one. “Seeing my kids dancing to my music or hearing my husband saying he is proud of me makes me feel accomplished,” she admits.

In the breathtaking 50-second clip above, the singer runs up a dune in a frothy Molly Goddard gown and Alexandre Vauthier hat, tames horses, and poses, barefoot in the Arabian desert. Don’t forget to pick up your issue of the magazine when it hits shelves on February 1 to read the full interview.

Now Read: Riding High on Style, Ciara Lands Her First Vogue Cover

Videographer: Hyku Desesto
Fashion Director: Katie Trotter
Production: Snap14
Hair: Cesar Ramirez
Makeup: Niki M’nray

These Celebrities Can Prove That Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

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Last month, Vogue Arabia hosted the inaugural Ball of Arabia, a high profile charity gala hosted in partnership with Tiffany & Co. at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab. The glamorous event, which helped to raise funds for UNICEF’s Girls Education and Empowerment Program in the MENA region, was attended by the likes of Middle Eastern royalty, regional and international celebrities, as well as fashion insiders including Mohamed Hadid, Maya Diab, Lara Stone, and Yasmine Sabri. Meanwhile, entertainment was provided by superstar singer Ciara. In the video above, Maritta Hallani, Lara Scandar, Aram Kabbani, and Salma Abu Deif showcase some of the luxury jeweler’s most dazzling designs in celebration of the Ball of Arabia. After all, diamonds are a girls best friend.

Video: Photo Boutique
Production: Snap Fourteen
Hair: Diego Miranda
Makeup: Soha Khoury
Choreography: Shaymaa Shoukry
Styling: Bosaina

 

This Egyptian-Lebanese Photographer’s New Fashion Film is An Ode to Dubai and New York

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Finding MĀ is finding oneself between here and there. The journey between space and time. It is the cross roads of two cities I lived,” explains award-winning fashion photographer Toufic Araman of his latest video project produced in collaboration with Vogue Arabia. “MĀ refers to rooms, as well as spaces between structures,” he states. The Egyptian-Lebanese photographer, who splits his time between New York and Dubai, rounded up a crew of ultra-talented creatives that included stylists, poets, sound composers, editors, among others to realize this vision of wanderlust, which translated into a beautiful fashion film that flawlessly captures the similarities (and differences) of the two cities he calls home. Watch the striking clip above.

Production
Director: Toufic Araman
Director of Photography: Erik Swain
Stylist: Newheart Ohanian
Model: Dalianah Arekion, New York Model Management
Poetry: Christina Andreassen
Editor: Lucas Fossati
Producer: Gabriel Montagnani
Hair: Shintaro Teraoka
Makeup: Ana Sequira
Sound Composer and Design: Kevin Pollard
Voice: Mylène Gomera
Casting Director: Barbara Pfister

Wardrobe
Look 1
DsQuared Ruffled dress; Christian Siriano dress; DsQuared neck tie; DsQuared leggings; Alexander Wang corset belt; Erickson Beamon jewelry; DsQuared shoes.

Look 2
Fendi jumpsuit; Keren Wolf headband; Giorgio Armani purse; Miu Miu shoes.

Look 3
Miu Miu coat; Miu Miu shoes; Giorgio Armani purse.

Look 4
Marc Jacobs dress; Marc Jacobs belt; Giorgio Armani boots; GBGH choker.

Look 5
Dolce and Gabbana gown; GBGH rings.

Look 6
YSL dress; Dolce & Gabbana bag; Keren Wolf bracelet; Keren Wolf earrings.

Look 7
Giorgio Armani dress; Keren Wolf earring.

Charlotte Tilbury Reveals Her Top Tips For a Flawless Complexion

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Celebrity makeup artist to the stars Charlotte Tilbury returns to share her tips and tricks for achieving a flawless complexion. “I always say if you want a beautiful painting, you have to have a beautiful canvas,” she begins. Showcasing her award-winning products she shares the iconic story behind Charlotte’s Magic Cream, to the science behind her Instant Magic Dry Sheet Mask which is the first of its kind to penetrate down to the third layer of the epidermis.

Now Watch: Charlotte Tilbury Shares her Secrets for Glowing Skin

Egyptian Icon Laila Eloui Like You Have Never Seen Her Before

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She’s acted in over 70 movies, won multiple awards, and has been honored in film festivals around the world, and at 54- Laila Eloui is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Egyptian star, who made her acting debut at the age of seven, now finds herself in front of the camera again after her last on-screen appearance on Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces two-years-ago. But this time, she’s not taking on a character or reciting lines. Above, Ämr Ezzeldinn and Mohamed Gamal capture the Egyptian icon in an alluring fashion film for the December 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.

Credits:
Director: Amr Ezzeldinn
Videographer: Mohamed Gamal

Production
: Snap14
Stylist: Bosaina
Hair: Mike at Hair n Flair
Make up: Diana Harby
Fashion assistants: Omneya Mourshed and Lana Kovalchuk
Shot on location at Cairo Camera Studios

In the video Eloui wears crown, Dina Mourad; Dress, Love Label; Earrings, Maison 69; Rings, Ammanii; Turtleneck, Marie Louis; Jewelry, Swarovski; Jacket, Gianfranco Ferre; Fur, Gorski; Gloves Dries Van Noten, Jacket, Marie Louis; Turtleneck, Ralph Lauren; Belt, Retromania London; Earrings, Stylist’s own; Top, Maison 69.

Now Watch: How Afef Jnifen Does Milan During Fashion Week

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She’s one of fashion’s most iconic runway stars, so is well-versed in keeping pace with Fashion Week. However, this season, Afef Jnifen let Vogue.me in on just what a day during the seasonal sartorial showcase holds for the Tunisian model and actor. Inviting us to join her during Milan Fashion Week, the former Vogue Arabia cover star gave us an insight into her city highlights during a typical day. From visiting ornate boutiques to covet their many treasures to catching up with friends over a coffee, here’s what Jnifen got up to between the shows of fashion week.

Now Read: Just In: The Street Style You Can’t Miss from Milan Fashion Week

Coffee With Nardine: Shereen Reda Reveals Her Key Advice for Men

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Last week, Egypt’s El Gouna was swamped with Arab actors, directors, models, and filmmakers, who all flocked to the resort town to celebrate the second edition of the annual El Gouna Film Festival, which wrapped up on Friday night. The week-long cinematic event, which kicked off on September 20, brought with it a host of stars, who came out in full force to support Arab theater and acknowledge their fellow peers who have helped to shape it.

Hosting the closing ceremony of this year’s festival was Nardine Farag, actor and host of MBC’s The Voice. Despite the festival’s jam-packed schedule, the Egyptian star, who has worked alongside Youssra in two TV series, took a little time out to catch up with her friends on the sidelines. In collaboration with Vogue.me, Farag is quizzing some of the Arab world’s brightest stars over a cup of coffee in a four-part series.

Previous episodes have featured Tunisian star Dorra Zarrouk, Egyptian actor Amina Khalil, and Alexandria-born actress, model, and ballerina Nelly Karim, and now Shereen Reda is starring in our final installment. The Egyptian actor joined Farag over a hot beverage to reveal her top beauty tips, how she manages a hectic schedule, her dream role, and who she’d most like to meet for a cup of coffee. Watch the full video above to see exactly what Reda had to say.

Now Read: Coffee With Nardine: Nelly Karim Shares Her Post-Filming Ritual

Production: Maison Pyramide
Director: Malak El Sawi
Stylist and art director: Alia El Dessouki

March 11, 2020

“Independence is everything” — Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi on Shaping the Artistic Legacy of Sharjah with Courage and Vision

Hard-working and passionate, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi is shaping the artistic legacy of Sharjah – and her brother – with courage and vision…

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears jumper, Sheikha Hoor’s own; dress, socks, shoes, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Tick, tick, tick, tick. “Done. My meeting in Sharjah is pushed back and now I can stay one more day,” pronounces Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, her long, white-painted nails swiping the screen of her phone. Busier than ever, the Emirati royal is in Marrakech for our cover shoot, after spending more than a month in Pakistan, where she curated the second edition of the Lahore Biennale. For this project, the president and director of Sharjah Art Foundation took over 13 locations across town – “I wanted more but they were like,‘Hey, slow down,’” she laughs – giving new life to spaces such as an abandoned planetarium or a site perilously close to a chaotic cricket stadium. “I think I’ve been doing my job for 18 years now. And although I’m always busy, it’s a great honor to be invited to do these things,” she shares with her tender but assertive voice. “Nobody goes to Pakistan. Everybody goes to India. Everyone keeps saying, ‘Oh, but it’s so dangerous,’ but it’s not risky at all. As a woman, I walked down the street on my own and it was fine – even late at night. The city is so beautiful. Lahore is a place to fall in love with.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi wears jumper, her own; dress, socks, shoes, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; pants, Rochas; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

I watch the royal cruising carefree through the Marrakech medina with this same determination, exploring with curiosity a little store that sells rugs and ottomans, followed by a stand with accessories. Although she is the daughter of HH Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, one of the most loved GCC royals, don’t expect her to manifest as a fairytale princess. In fact, Sheikha Al Qasimi hates to be called “princess.” Instead, she is a practical woman, with a great sense of humor, who speaks eight languages and travels carrying her own luggage.“My parents pushed us to learn languages and see the world. That was always part of our upbringing, and we were never raised as royals. We were just raised to do everything ourselves. Even when I was in school and people would say, ‘Oh, so and so’s daughter is studying here…’ I would just sit there rolling my eyes. People didn’t know about us. Why would they?” She reflects when asked how it was to grow up in a royal home. “Our childhood revolved around studying. My mom pushed us. We had tutors after school and on the weekend. We just studied, studied, studied. And I like that. This gave us structure to understand that we have a job that comes with tasks and obligations. And having a job is important, as independence is everything.”

“Having a job is important, as independence is everything”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears jumper, own; dress, socks, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; pants, Rochas; earrings, rings, Sohail Abdullah. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

For Sheikha Al Qasimi, life would probably be easier if she only had “a” job. Instead, her CV is filled with several big titles, and as many hats as one can wear. Along with leading the Sharjah Art Foundation, she serves as the Sharjah Biennial director, playing a pivotal role in positioning the emirate as a revered art hub regionally and internationally. Sheikha Al Qasimi is also president of the Africa Institute of Sharjah and chair of the board for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, which inaugurated its first edition in November 2019. No less impressive is her role on the board of directors for MoMA PS1 in New York; Kunst-Werke Berlin e. V. in Germany; and Ashkal Alwan in Beirut. The list goes on and on. And let’s not forget her passion projects: she is a proud, self-taught restaurateur, owning Fen and Abayomi restaurants, both in Sharjah. “I’ve always been active mentally, and want to do and learn things. I feel a lot of reward in what I do. I’m exhausted, but it’s worth it,” says the Sheikha. When asked if she considers herself a workaholic, she pauses and smiles, “Oh, definitely. I think it’s good to work.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears dress, Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; necklace, Jean Paul Gaultier. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

While Sheikha Al Qasimi may now be a reference in the art world, she had to prove her talent like anyone else. She tells me she had to work double as hard to establish her points and contest any notions that her job was given to her as a result of family ties. In a previous interview with Vogue Arabia, she shared that when she took over the Sharjah Biennial, founded in 1993 by her father, the event was in desperate need of a revamp, being held in a convention center. At the age of 22, with a handful of staff, she completely redefined the program, moved it to a new location, hung art, and swept the floors herself. “During a trip to Berlin with my father, we visited the Documenta11 contemporary art exhibition. I was inspired by the way contemporary art connected with the real world, politics, and social issues,” she explains. “I wanted to know why our biennial wasn’t looking at things like this. I wanted to see how the process worked in Sharjah. I promised my father I wasn’t going to interfere, but of course, I did. I asked why we were in a trade/expo center, even though we have an arts area. Old Sharjah Biennial was like an art fair, but we’re not a commercial art fair, we’re non- profit and cultural. The organizers quit, so it became my job.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Sheikha Hoor wears dress, Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; rings, Zohra Rahman; pearl ring, Sheikha Hoor’s own. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Today, Sheikha Al Qasimi oversees a staff of 200 and the Sharjah Biennial is consistently rated as one of the top 10 biennials in the world.

The sun is setting in Marrakech, filling the terrace on top of Hassan Hajjaj’s riad with a golden light only found in this city. Although she was photographed the day before, Sheikha Al Qasimi has decided to visit the venue, while Egyptian star Yousra is being shot by the Moroccan photographer, with a live band playing traditional local songs. As we sit in a quieter place, we start discussing her new role as creative director of the London-based menswear brand Qasimi, founded by her twin brother, Sheikh Khaled Al Qasimi, who passed away abruptly last July. “You know, it’s very hard. It’s very emotional. I don’t think that I’ve grieved, to be honest. In the beginning, it was more about looking after my parents and my sisters. He was my twin and we had such a connection… I don’t feel like he’s gone sometimes, and I often dream of Khaled,” she shares. Honoring her brother’s life and passion, she stepped into his shoes, following as closely as possible the five-year plan he left behind. “For me it’s important to make this as successful as I can for him, now that he is gone. It’s hard because although fashion and arts mix, the commercial side is new to me. I’ve always worked in nonprofits; now, it’s different.”

00:00 / 00:00

More than just the business side, Sheikh Khaled’s presence is felt more than ever in the most recent designs, celebrating his life and heritage. One of the best examples is the first collection Sheikha Al Qasimi has overseen, where the rising sun – a motif linked with Sharjah’s iconography – is reinterpreted in some looks, now as a sunset, paired with the sentence “To rise again.” The Sheikha also decided to include two quotes she found on her brother’s mood board, hanging in his office. Written on T-shirts and sweatshirts, the sacred expressions “For I am near” and “We are never parted” are touching and clear reminders that Sheikha Al Qasimi will never forget her twin, and the company is in the best hands possible. “It will always be my brother’s office, my brother’s team, and my brother’s label.”

Originally published in the March 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

Photography Hassan Hajjaj 
Style Katie Trotter & Lisa Jarvis
Creative producer Laura Prior  
Art accomplice Ebon Heath 
Second assistant Tariq Hajjaj
Local producer Marie Courtin 
Hair Sadek Lardjane 
Makeup Jo Frost
Photography assistants Hasnae El Quarga and Meriem Yin
Style assistant Alexandria Lefevre 
Runner Yazid Bezaz, Abdelali Boukrimi, Mohammed Ajib
Studio Riad Yima, Marrakech
With special thanks to Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

Read Next: 10 Life Lessons to Learn from Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi

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