Saudi Arabia and Vogue Arabia have always gone hand in hand. The magazine shot one of it’s most groundbreaking covers with Her Royal Highness Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud. Not only was this Vogue Arabia’s first cover shoot in the Kingdom, but it was also during the month when the Saudi government lifted the ban on women driving. To celebrate this progressive change, Her Royal Highness embodied a new era of women empowerment with her iconic shot that broke the internet. The cover, which showed HRH Princess Hayfa seated in a car, had an unanticipated impact around the Arab world and globally.
Reflecting a year later on her cover HRH Princess Hayfa said, “When I accepted to be photographed behind the wheel of a car, I did not predict the big impact it would have. The issue of women driving is a major talking point for people outside of Saudi Arabia. But for me – and I think for a large percentage of our local population – allowing women to drive is a natural event that makes sense in the 21st century. To this end, when women were granted the right to drive in the Kingdom, it was a fairly smooth and natural integration into the societal fabric.”
Vogue Arabia strongly believes in representing the region in the best, and most inclusive way possible with many of the magazine’s key moments coming to life in the Kingdom. From the Sadus village to the bustling city of Riyadh, the publication has traveled all around the country. Below, some of its most special moments created there.
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The significance of self-expression was highlighted when Shahad Salman, a Mecca-based model with vitiligo, was featured on the cover of Vogue Arabia’s June 2019 cover with international model Winnie Harlow. Marking another one of Vogue Arabia’s ground-breaking cover shoots in Saudi Arabia, the models with vitiligo – a skin condition caused by the lack of melanin – shared their emotional stories of success and women supporting women.
This was the first time an international model was flown to Saudi Arabia for a cover shoot. During the shoot, Salman had said, “Before I didn’t feel good about myself and I didn’t like the way I looked. Winnie was the person who gave me the confidence to fight. I never expected to meet her. Sharing time on the set of Vogue with her was a dream. I feel that now I, too, can inspire other girls from the Arab world.”
The magazine also covered the enfant terrible of the art world, Saudi Arabian artist Abdullah Qandeel, who unraveled his plans to encourage the country’s youth with a large-scale incubation project in Jeddah: The Creativity Terminal.
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Leading the way for future businesswomen in the Kingdom, HRH Princess Lamia Bint Majed AlSaud, Secretary-General of Alwaleed Philanthropies, sat down with Vogue Arabia to share her rules for professional empowerment. She told her followers, “Be positive and listen more, as God gave us two ears and one mouth.”
Elevating the Kingdom’s film scene, Vogue Arabia has met and interviewed prominent leaders in the industry. The list includes Saudi director Haifa Al Mansour, actress Aiysha Hart, actress-writer-director Ahd Kamel, as well as Jumanah Shaheen – who frequently appears in Hollywood movies. Saudi women Dr Mariam Binladen, Dr Majdah Mohammed Ahmed Aburas, and Alaa Bahri have also shared impressive stories about their humanitarian work in aid of the environmental and refugee crisis.
The whole of Saudi Arabia is going through a significant reform but fashion is one particular industry that has been impacted profoundly. Vogue Arabia continually supports and provides a platform for Arab designers. Saudi designers, including Mohammed Ashi, Sadeem, Nora Al-Shaikh, Layla Moussa, and Arwa Al Banawi, are just some of the names Vogue Arabia has featured. The magazine highlighted their signature creations, from Sadeem’s eco-conscious dresses to Daneh‘s workwear collection.
In March 2020, Vogue Arabia traveled to AlUla, the Kingdom’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. This timeless desert destination will open to the public in October 2020 – and ahead of this much-anticipated event, Piaget and the Royal Commission for AlUla had joined in an exclusive partnership for the Winter at Tantora festival in AlUla. The cultural and historical destination hosted this world-first festival until March 7, bringing 12 weekends of wonder to the AlUla Oasis, inspired by its spectacular scenery.
Inside its September 2020 issue, is a fashion shoot starring and put together by an all-Saudi team. The six-page shoot sees Saudi content creators Dareen Bassas and Maryam Nasser showcase leading Arab designers in the capital of Riyadh, and is photographed by Abdulrahman Abdullah, and styled by Aram Kabbani.
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