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Vogue Arabia September 2020: Regional Heroes Unite For A Global Message of Hope

Mila Abouchalbak on the Vogue Arabia September 2020 cover

Seven-year-old Mila Abouchalbak stars on the Vogue Arabia September 2020 cover. Photography: Tarek Moukaddem

For the first time in Vogue’s 128-year history, all 26 editions have consolidated under a singular editorial theme of Hope to convey optimism and solidarity as the world faces unprecedented change. For Vogue Arabia this means focusing on the regional heroes who inspire us, putting the spotlight on two generations that are helping to reshape a safer and brighter future for women in Arabia.

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue. Photography: Ämr Ezzeldinn

While the September cover is one typically associated with high glamour and luxe fashion, Editor-in-Chief, Manuel Arnaut, decided on a more realistic approach that not only allowed the message of hope for the future to truly resonate, but also echoed the pivotal moment in time that the world is facing.

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Mila Abouchalbak offers a message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue. Photography: Tarek Moukaddem

“At the tender age of seven, cover star Mila Abouchalbak is one of thousands of Lebanese children affected by the devastating explosions in Beirut,” explains Arnaut. “Yet even seeing her home destroyed, she didn’t lose hope, and looked on as her fellow citizens took to the streets to clean and rebuild their city. While her future might look uncertain, she is hopeful that the Lebanese nation will thrive once again. Joining her as a September cover star is another iconic voice, the acclaimed Tunisian-Egyptian actor and activist Hend Sabri, who champions the rights of women in the Middle East, working to end domestic abuse and violence. These voices from two generations unite for a universal message, that resonates especially in the Arab world.”

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue

Actor Hend Sabri was photographed in Cairo by Ämr Ezzeldinn and styled by Yasmine Eissa.

Abouchalbak, who has vitiligo, was photographed in Beirut by Tarek Moukaddem and styled by Amine Jreissati, two months before the devastating explosion that ripped through the city. Jreissati, who is also the fashion designer behind Boyfriend the Brand, saw his home, store, and car destroyed in the blast. Abouchalbak’s family home in the capital was also affected, forcing them to retreat to the mountains. In her cover interview with Vogue Arabia, she talks about her wishes for her future and of other children like her, and that of her country.

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Mila Abouchalbak is one of thousands of Lebanese children affected by the devastating explosions in Beirut. Photography: Tarek Moukaddem

Offering another perspective is the award-winning actor Hend Sabri, whose recent career accolades include signing a deal with Netflix to executive produce and star in a new, as-yet-untitled, original Arabic original series, and becoming the first Arab woman judge at the Venice film festival. Sabri was photographed in Cairo by Ämr Ezzeldinn and styled by Yasmine Eissa. In her shoot she stands before a mural featuring words of female empowerment, and on her hand is etched the words “break the silence.” In her exclusive interview, she talks about fighting for the safety of Arab women and provides a unique voice for the times. “Harassment is a crime, and silence is also a crime,” says Sabri. “It is necessary to educate young people and encourage girls to break the barrier of fear and expose the harassers.”

The September issue is dedicated to the individuals who inspire hope. Interviewees include For Sama director Waad Al-Kateab, who discusses her dreams of a peaceful Syria; Palestinian-Syrian refugee dancer and choreographer Ahmad Joudeh, who is interviewed by étoile dancer Roberto Bolle; designer Giorgio Armani on the re-education in the fashion industry; Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall on embracing her Yemeni-Egyptian heritage; American-Palestinian US Member of Congress Rashida Tlaib reinforcing that her strength comes from the streets; and model Halima Aden in conversation with Egyptian Olympic swimmer Farida Osman.

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While her future might look uncertain, Mila Abouchalbak knows Lebanon will rise again, and is hopeful for her future as well as that of other children like her. Photography: Tarek Moukaddem

When it comes to style, the issue abounds with the seasonal beauty trends and fashion shoots expected from the iconic magazine. Shoots include a strong focus on regional designers, with the latest collections shot in Riyadh by an all-Arab team, as well as editorials exploring the trends that refute disposable fashion, focusing instead on sustainability and a much-needed return to escapism. Vogue Arabia also travels to Beirut to photograph and support Lebanese designers in their destroyed work spaces, which are being rebuilt following the Beirut explosions.

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue

The actor and activist Hend Sabri stands in front of a mural with words of female empowerment. Photography: Ämr Ezzeldinn

“In these troubled times, it’s important to reflect and produce meaningful content that inspires and informs our readers across the globe,” adds Arnaut. “Now, more than ever, we all need hope, so we are turning the focus to the heroes and causes that inspire us. It is a heartfelt contribution to a world that we hope will rise to become kinder, more authentic, and more sustainable.”

Read more: 26 Vogue Editors-in-Chief On The Images That Bring Them Hope In 2020

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