As Vogue Arabia reveals its annual Saudi issue for the month of June, we introduce you to the creatives who made it all possible.
Shahad Salman is a Saudi Arabian influencer and model who started her career when she was 23 years old. The cover of our June 2021 issue marks the second Vogue Arabia cover for the model. Salman is known for using her platform as a Saudi model with vitiligo to inspire the youth to become the best versions of themselves. Her message is to spread the awareness of self-love, women empowerment, and “what it takes to be who you are in a world that is consistently trying to make us carry another version of ourselves.” Shahad deeply believes that this is the greatest accomplishment. Ever since she started her career, she has worked with major social media platforms, TV channels, and magazines including starring on the June 2019 cover of Vogue Arabia alongside Winnie Harlow. With the social and economical changes that are taking place in Saudi, Salman believes that the Kindom is a solid ground that enhances and inspires the fashion industry both locally and internationally.
Abdulrahman Alammar is an emerging Saudi model with albinism, who is starring in his first Vogue shoot with the cover of our June issue. Below, his story in his own words:
“On the day of my birth, the medical staff was surprised to see me. Shortly after my birth, they took me to my mother after informing her about the beauty of my skin color. She was incredibly happy to see me as even the supervising doctor said to her, ‘God has blessed you with a beautiful child.’
Being in my family’s life was special. I’ve had vision problems since my birth due to the effect of the pigmentation on the eyes. I started wearing glasses when I was four months old.
I suffered due to the sunlight and strong lights.
I suffered from the heat of the sun; it exhausts me.
I suffered due to bullying in school and public places.
In the fifth grade of primary school, I began to overcome bullying and get along with different people. My fear has now gone, and I started sowing the seeds of self-confidence instead. I don’t get disappointed anymore by people’s looks or words. By the grace of God, determination and persistence, and my family’s and loved ones’ support, I built a fence that raised me to the top.
I overcame all the obstacles I faced, managed to complete my intermediate and high school, and here I am continuing my academic education.
I also participated in many shows and events, and successfully started my career in the fashion world. Suffering and bullying turned into a story of success and excellence. I feel really proud that I achieved my dreams. My message to you all: If you are different, then you are distinguished.”
The Saudi photographer behind our cover starring Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar, Hayat Osamah was born in 1993 in Jeddah, where she lived most of her childhood, then moved to Riyadh where she’s based currently. In 2009 she decided to learn fashion photography on her own when she bought her first “point and shoot” digital camera. Osamah’s vision started taking shape in 2014 when she focused on diversity as a subject using film photography as her way of documentation for its raw perspective. She was selected by the Ministry of Culture as one of the speakers in the first fashion platform Fashion Futures, 2019 in Saudi Arabia. Osamah has worked with major international publications including Vogue and Vogue Arabia.
Muhanad Alothman who goes by Designlesss, is the photographer who lensed our June cover starring Abadi Al-Johar and Tamtam. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Alothman has recently delved into portrait and fashion photography. Alothman plans on using photography in the long run as he strives to capture the real and surreal moments of fashion, music, and lifestyle. He expresses his love for the medium of photography and emphasizes its ability to connect people in the production of a piece that represents everyone involved in the process. As for his take on his Syrian heritage, Alothman believes that his heritage is not paired with a place. “I believe heritage is a personal connection with your own journey and how you grow with it.” Alothman found the cover story shoot to be an amazing collaborative effort.
Rawan Kattoa is the stylist behind one of our two June issue covers starring Abadi Al-Johar and Tamtam. A creative consultant and editorial stylist by profession, Kattoa lives between Saudi, Dubai, and Geneva. Her passion for empowering local brands, highlighting local culture, and supporting talents through her creative work empowered her to shift from a 10-year corporate career and evolve to the fashion and creative world. She has been contributing with different local and international fashion initiatives and partnering with designers and brands to develop their businesses as well as bringing in new ideas and concepts from a different creative perspective.
“Saudi to me is the origin of our inspiration, the present of our progression and the future to our dreams,” she says. “Our historical, diversified culture, and rich heritage shape our creativity and aspire our talents. The support of today’s Vision 2030 focusing on shedding the light on our core culture including fashion is empowering all creative talents and leading them to so many opportunities with huge potential in the industry. I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this historical change.”
Sara Essa is the stylist for one of our June covers starring Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar. “Being a stylist, especially under a certain concept is always exciting,” she says of the shoot. “I was very happy to be working with such a wonderful and talented team who had a wonderful harmony working together.” Essa’s interest in art and fashion grew from a young age with her family and pop culture motivating her knowledge. With an eye for the creative, Essa teamed up with her sister to start their clothing brand Metien Degree, which showcases their self-made pieces. “My heritage is a consistent reminder of the past and the culture I grew with along with the values that I gain from it,” she says.
The makeup artist, who created the looks for this issue’s cover story with Lulwa Al Homoud, was born and raised in Jeddah and today spends her time between the Kingdom and Los Angeles. Working on the cover story was “incredible,” she says. “While being away for two years, I wasn’t able to see Saudi’s creative scene flourish. I was trying to find a way to navigate the scene here but I felt so disconnected; almost like an outsider. However, this shoot was the perfect icebreaker. I’ve always wanted to work with photographer Hayat Osamah and it was reassuring knowing she trusted me with this. It was incredible to see a team full of young Saudi creatives working together and collaborating with Saudi artist Lulwah Al Homoud. Watching Lulwah speak on Saudi culture and art was also so refreshing – I felt truly proud and grateful to be working with and surrounded by my people. It was such a beautiful opportunity to be a part of and I’m so grateful for everyone I was able to meet.”
She holds the Kingdom close to her heart, and being Saudi gives her a sense of belonging. “My mother is from Seoul, South Korea, and my dad is Palestinian-Saudi, so I’ve always felt some kind of physical distance from my parents’ origins, but at the end of the day, Saudi is my home. Growing up here is the reason I am the way I am today. I’m passionate about what I believe in, about breaking boundaries, about evolving. Living and growing up in Saudi is such a unique experience, and my multicultural household definitely played a part in making it even more unique.”
Duha AlHosainy is the creative director for our June cover starring Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar. She is a home-grown art director, occasional production designer, based in Riyadh. Motivated to push boundaries and reflect culture in film and photography, she finds herself in capturing raw, no-frills frames on a mission to preserve Saudi culture. AlHosainy realized her passion by watching the likes of Guillermo Del Toro and aspires to set a new standard in the region’s creative field in terms of photo, video, fashion, and historical depiction.
Saudi makeup artist Eilaf Sabbagh’s passion for make-up began early in childhood. She was inspired by her mother and a burning desire to empower women with confidence in their natural beauty. She took her first course in the basics of make-up artistry in 2006, and four years later, decided to pursue this passion full on and obtained her certificate in professional make-up artistry. Sabbagh’s career highlights include working on multiple major editorial magazine covers, as well as being the main artist for the promo of the first-ever Saudi Film Festival. “I am proud of my Saudi heritage and the foundation my family has laid for me,” she says. “I am thankful for these opportunities to continue to build this legacy through work that I love.”
Saudi entrepreneur Aisha Almamy is the founder of Basamat Arabia, the luxury consultancy agency that helped produce the June cover shoot and the portfolio featuring leading Saudi women. After completing her fashion and entrepreneurship courses in France, the Institute Marangoni and American University in Paris alumni founded Basamat Arabia and works closely with Saudi brands – developing them and promoting them internationally – while also collaborating with international labels aiming to enter Saudi market. “Producing these shoots was a challenge but also an incredible opportunity and honor,” says Almamy. “What we achieved truly represents our country, while showing the world what we are made of through Vogue Arabia.” She adds,“My heritage is who I am, and deeply influences my work and life. You can take the girl out of Saudi, but you can’t take Saudi out of the girl.”
Ibraheem Bin Taleb and Haneen Majdi – 24Fever
Based in Jeddah, 24Fever is the story of Ibraheem Bin Taleb and Haneen Majdi — two creatives with a passion for videography and photography. Since 2019 the creative duo has worked on various projects spanning fashion, beauty, music, and experimental art. Coming from different backgrounds, 24Fever appreciates the diversity in their cultures and their ability to maintain a united mindset and passion in everything that they do. They describe working with the cover stars Abadi Al-Johar and TamTam as one of the greatest experiences.“Two artists from different backgrounds brought us great harmony,” they said. Coming from different backgrounds, 24Fever, appreciates the diversity in their cultures and their ability to maintain a united mindset and passion in everything that they do.
Othman Mohammed is the videographer who lensed the film for our June issue’s cover. The Saudi-based cinematographer discovered his passion after his move to Riyadh and later went to film school in Paris. As a Saudi creative, Mohammed feels honored to be a part of the Saudi issue and in the future, hopes to shoot unique feature films for the big screen.
Amira Al Zuhair
Saudi model Amira Al Zuhair was scouted in Paris four years ago and her passion for modeling has only grown since. Al Zuhair feels great creative fulfillment while modeling and aims to balance it with her academics with the hope to become a lawyer one day. After losing her father at a young age, Al Zuhair explored the depths of her Saudi heritage allowing her to feel more connected to her father. She is constantly proud and grateful to be a Saudi woman representing her community in the fashion industry. The dedicated model was very excited to collaborate with a renowned institution like Vogue Arabia, and enjoyed exploring different looks and moods through the lens of the photographer.
Khadooj Alattas of Hekaya Studios
Khadooj Alattas specializes in PR and talent management, connecting talents to brands, and targeting the right audiences. A natural leader with a diverse background in management Alattas has managed large projects including hosting international exhibitions to local projects all while representing talent with complete fluency. She aims to help brands and companies empower minorities and those in need through immersive social responsibility projects. Coming from a family of knowledge and educators throughout the Arab and Muslim world, heritage to Alattas is all about giving to others. She was especially happy to support passionate local talent in the Vogue Arabia shoot, empowering them to get their voices out into the world.
Abdulghani Alsaigh and Omar Ashmouni of Hekaya Studios
Abdulghani Alsaigh is a film and commercial director based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a background in animation and VFX. Alsaigh has worked with international brands like Audi, DHL, Nissan, and Amazon. His unique style and vision are what keeps brands coming back to him. Big plans to enter the Cinema Screens are also up on the horizon for Hekaya Studios. For Alsaigh, heritage is something that is created. “It is what we make for the future generations,” he explains. As the owner of Hekaya Studios and provider of the studio for the Vogue Arabia shoot, Alsaigh felt very honored and humbled to host a team of passionate individuals.
Omar Ashmouni is a film and commercial producer and screenwriter based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with a bachelor’s degree in animation and digital media. He founded Hekaya Studios along with his partner Abdulghani Alsaigh to create the stories they wanted to watch as kids. When not swarmed with producing commercials for brands, he is often found burying his head in a notebook writing his next script. He is currently working on the script and vision for Hekaya’s upcoming feature film, as part of their plan to hit the big screen! Heritage for Ashmouni is what gives people a strong sense of identity and belonging, but it also is what gives his stories a unique flavor. Having this shoot with Vogue Arabia hosted at Hekaya Studios was a surreal experience for Ashmouni as the owner and founder.
Kinzy Al Saheal
Jeddah-based up-and-coming Saudi/Palestinian photographer Kinzy Al Saheal studied Studio Arts with an emphasis on photography at LMU, Los Angeles. A year working within the PR department of Saint Laurent in Dubai followed, before “a lightbulb moment” during quarantine inspired her to take up fashion photography full-time. “Being a Saudi female carries a lot of weight,” she says. “My mind can’t help but think about the rapid cultural shift that has allowed/encouraged us to be where we are right now – it’s surreal. That energy is embedded in my work ethic and I carry it with me throughout all my shoots.” It is this determination, perhaps, that fueled her Vogue Arabia editorial, which she shot outside in soaring 40-degree temperatures. “It was hot… But going back to basics and using nothing but the sun and a reflector was really liberating.”
Lina Mo was born and brought up in an old neighborhood in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. An obsession with the family film camera as a child, encouraged her to eventually take up photography over the years. The turning point came when Mo won a photography contest organized by Apple in Saudi Arabia. Following which, in 2016, she decided to pursue this as a full time career – specializing in street and fashion photography. In 2018, Mo shot the cover of Saudi Arabia’s first-ever street-style book Under The Abaya. The book succeeded in shattering stereotypes and demystifying the way the world views women from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On working as a creative in Saudi Arabia Mo says, “Working as a creative in a raw region such as Saudi Arabia inspires me continuously, making my ideas explode. The country, the culture & the people, I’m inspired by everything! I feel lucky!”
Striking Saudi-Egyptian new face model and marketing trainee Maha Hafez brought an effortless, youthful flair to our fashion story showcasing the season’s streetwear-inspired tailoring and modern abayas. “Working on the shoot was a dream come true,” she says. “The whole team ensured it was nothing short of magical.” The Toronto-educated creative credits her Arab roots for her burgeoning confidence. “My heritage is my legacy and what will continue to shape and empower me forever.”
Nouf Musallam is a fashion stylist, creative director and curator with a modern and energetic vision. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, her work focuses on emerging talent while discovering new ways to collaborate in the name of art and fashion. A champion of female-driven middle eastern brands, she takes a thoughtfully curated approach to each project, offering a wholly individual and vibrant take on today’s fashion landscape.
Armed with 14 years of photographic experience, Raad Jamil is a Saudi fashion, beauty and editorial photographer based in Riyadh. Picking up the Nikon d80 at the age of 22 steered him into a career in photography and he hasn’t looked back since. Jamil is known to have worked with and published in various international brands and publications including Van Cleef, Net A Porter, Vogue Arabia – among many others. On his experience shooting ballerina Samira Alkhamis for this month’s issue of Vogue, Jamil shares, “There is no doubt that it is the dream of any fashion photographer to work with Vogue magazine and I am very happy that they chose me and they believe in what I have. It was a great professional experience with the brilliant talent of Samira Alkhamis, with the most wonderful team.”
Osamah Maher, who goes by Simsim, is a self-taught photographer from Saudi Arabia that is passionate about conceptual and editorial fashion photography. SimSim is working on making a living out of his passion for photography, as he believes that to make a difference in this world, a person must pursue what they love. The photographer sees his heritage as his identity and firmly believes that as globalization proliferates across today’s society, art will be more meaningful when one goes back to their roots. SimSim was intrigued and challenged by the Olympic Women Jumper Shoot, especially while working with and observing the horses and female equestrian interactions.
Abdullah Al Musharraf
The photographer behind the beauty shoot in our June issue, Abdullah Almusharraf has been a professional photographer since 2009. Besides working with renowned brands, government agencies, and celebrities, he has also cofounded studio spaces in Saudi like 8ies, and Caagew Space, as well as The Stock. To Almusharraf, his Saudi heritage means “honor and pride.” He says, “No words can describe Saudi Arabia, especially these days where it has been growing and developing. It makes me proud to be Saudi, and I have always been proud.”
A 28-year-old make-up artist and entrepreneur from Riyadh, Hessa Alajaji is the creative behind the beauty shoot in our June issue. “It was one of my favorite shoots I have worked on because it’s a beauty spread that allowed me to be creative and actually run wild with my creativity,” she says. Although her professional career dates back to seven years ago, her passion for beauty and art started to develop at a young age. With experience of working with numerous leading international beauty and fashion brands, publications, and upcoming local fashion talents as the lead make-up artist, Alajaji is launching her own beauty company. When asked what her Saudi heritage means to her, she says, “It is the one word that defines who I am, and more importantly who I should and can be. I truly believe that my heritage is not only what our ancestors passed on to us. It is the values and culture that we hold to and pass it on to the coming generations to shape a better future.”
Noaf Al Namlah
Despite having graduated in Computer Information Systems, Saudi stylist Noaf Alnamlah always had a panache for fashion as a young girl and styled her loved ones her entire life until she decided to turn it into a career. Now with more than five years of professional experience, the mother of two helps her discerning Saudi clients with styling advice, wardrobe refreshes, special occasions, gifting edits, and much more. “This shoot has been extremely fun to work on,” she says of the June issue’s beauty editorial. “I especially loved styling it using local brands who are by Saudi and regional designers that I’ve had the honor to work with several times before.” Of her Saudi heritage, she says, “It’s what gives me a unique perspective to style my clients. I wouldn’t be or know the same things I did if it weren’t for my inherited family identity. I feel like my sense of style has been influenced a lot by my mother and aunt’s attention to detail and modest approach to style. I’m confident they have also been influenced by my grandmother and past generations and I hope I can, in turn, affect my daughters’ styles in a similar way.”
Up-and-coming Dhahran-born model Sophie Alshehry landed a spot in her current agency six months into the pandemic and has since worked with Vogue Arabia twice including the jewelry editorial in our June issue. “It still is mind blowing to me that I haven’t even been in the industry for a year and have been blessed with these outstanding opportunities,” she says. “I aim to use my platform for things such as bringing positive awareness to the Middle East, mixed races, and ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.”
With a background in set design, industrial material innovation, and creative strategy, Koran Dasoar is a creative director, who values technical excellence as well as authentic relationships in his working practice. Raised between the UK, Holland, South Asia, and later living in the Gulf, he has acquired over 10 years of industry experience, as well as a diverse insight into a variety of schools of creative, critical thinking. Driven to build and elevate teams, relationships, and strategies to realize pioneering projects across a spectrum of mediums, he is a passionate advocate for the development of design in the Gulf. He has overseen and actively works towards building educational initiatives, collaborative opportunities and relationships between emerging and seasoned talents and organizations, across the visual arts, fashion, and design industries. He aspires to stimulate interdisciplinary exchange between creatives across the world, existing at the intersection of thinker, creator, and consul.