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Some of Vogue Arabia’s Most Special Moments Created in Saudi Arabia

Nathalie Fanj in Al-Ula. Photo: Rabee Younes

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.  

Reem Al-Suwaidi, Yara Al-Namla, and Abeer Sender, by Ziga Milsic for November 2018.

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.

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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.”  

Winnie Harlow and Shahad Salman for the June 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia. Photography by: Dan Beleiu

From the Sadus village to the bustling city of Riyadh, Vogue Arabia has traveled all around the Kingdom.

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. Meanwhile, in sports, the magazine discussed new hopes of a Saudi women’s football team, as the Kingdom gradually grants more rights to them. Vogue Arabia held an exclusive shoot with Saudi footballers Saja Kamal and Munira Al Hamdan. 

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Sending out a powerful message, Kamal said, “To a non-Saudi, entry for women into stadiums probably looks inconsequential, but it’s a monumental move.” She adds, “It shows women are being given basic rights to watch football. It involves us and is hopefully a sign that we will be able to play on the pitches soon. It is the first stage of acceptance.” 

Saja Kamal.

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 towards the environmental and refugee crisis. 

HRH Princess Maha bint Mishari Abdulaziz Alsaud. Photo: Mark Loscombe

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. While there is no shortage of them, the magazine has highlighted many labels. 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. 

Daneh Buahmad, Aljawharah “Sadeem” Abdulaziz Alshehail, Shad Alshuhail, Arwa Al Banawi Nora Al Shaikh, Layla Moussa. Photographed by Dirk Bader for Vogue Arabia June 2018

Beauty, like fashion, is also a viral profession in the country. As the country fills up with talented makeup bloggers and influencers, Vogue Arabia had the lucky chance to feature many leading entrepreneurs in the field. Who can forget the exclusive interview with Reem Alswaidi, Abeer Sinder, and Yara Alnamlah?  

Here’s wishing everyone from Saudi Arabia a very happy National Day! 

Reem Alswaidi, Abeer Sinder, and Yara Alnamlah, Photography: Ziga Mihelcic for November 2018

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