What better way to celebrate Vogue Arabia’s third anniversary than with three iconic Pop Arabia covers starring three Middle Eastern legends?
To mark the brand’s milestone, Editor-in-Chief Manuel Arnaut, decided to highlight the impact that Vogue Arabia has had in the Middle East over the last three years with a joyous and fun representation of the region’s incredible women. Leading in the arts and entertainment industries, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, Assala Nasri, and Yousra were the A-list cast chosen to be the cover stars shot by Moroccan Photographer Hassan Hajjaj in his colorful riad in Marrakech.
“In just three years we’ve had some incredible high moments that make me proud of the work that the team and I crafted,” explains Arnaut. “Besides providing an accurate representation of the style of Arab women, we’ve offered a window into their accomplishments and talents – a positive message I consider so important in a region where women’s roles are constantly being reinvented and challenged, and where women are so many times misrepresented.”
Dubbed the Andy Warhol of Marrakech, Hajjaj helped set a vibrant scene for the three celebrities, creating an environment filled with music, the best tea, and Moroccan sweets. Putting the women at ease, he was able to portray their most creative and energetic sides. The photographer, who has previously shot Madonna and Cardi B and is well-known for being particular about which projects he accepts, explains that his decision to shoot the anniversary covers came down to the subjects. “What each of these women is doing is iconic,” he asserts. “They are formidable and it’s been so great capturing them.” And, true to form, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, Assala Nasri, and Yousra all sang and danced throughout their shoots, with a live band playing traditional music.
In her first interview since her recent divorce, Syrian singing sensation Assala Nasri opened up about her personal challenges. “If I had to do it all over again, I would look after myself more. I have paid no attention to myself for too long,” she says.
Meanwhile, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi admitted she was “exhausted, but it’s worth it,” after juggling numerous projects, one of which saw her spend a month in Pakistan. The Sharjah royal also discussed her new role as creative director of the London-based menswear brand Qasimi, founded by her twin brother, Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi, who passed away last July. “For me, it’s important to make Qasimi as successful as I can for my brother, now that he is gone,” she says.
Egypt’s screen idol Yousra managed to squeeze in the shoot before jetting off to LA, where she had been chosen to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars. “It is a great honor for me to be on the Oscars academy,” explains the actor, who opened up about her own personal experiences and pressures within the film industry. “You are always under a special kind of pressure, and expectations of people toward you,” she says. “But without those people, you will never be a legend.”
Over the past three years, the foundation of Vogue Arabia’s authority has been its unique role as a cultural barometer for a Middle Eastern audience. Vogue places fashion in the context of culture and the world we live in – how we dress, live and socialize; what we eat, listen to, and watch; who leads and inspires us. Vogue is thought-provoking, relevant, and always influential. In that way it mirrors you, our readership.
“We don’t just cover fashion and trends,” says Arnaut. “We have also tackled topics that many considered taboo – from domestic violence and honor killings to mental health – always with access to the world’s leading opinion leaders and celebrities. And let’s not forget our serious commitment towards supporting Arab designers, as they are the foundation of the region’s fashion ecosystem.”
As such, the March 2020 anniversary issue is filled with some of the brand’s strongest exclusives to date. Algerian-French model Farida Khelfa interviews Jean Paul Gaultier after his last ever haute couture show; two Saudi royals reveal how they are pushing fashion forward in KSA; and a group of pioneering women in the UAE prove falconry is not a male-only sport. All this plus the fashion and beauty trends you need to see you through the season, all the while being more sustainable.
“In only three years, Vogue Arabia has become the leading platform for Arab women, providing an accurate representation of their style, but also a window to their accomplishments and talents – especially in a region where the role of women is constantly evolving,” says Arnaut. “Long may this continue.”