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Editor’s Letter: Our 5th Anniversary and Biggest-Ever Issue is a Heartfelt Tribute to the Readers

Manuel Arnaut

Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Photo: Ziga Mihelcic

This month, there were many discussions in the press and on social media on the most societal side of fashion. In France, the ban of the hijab – now also a reality in sports – continues to stab the fundamental rights of millions of Muslims in the country. As we reported on, the issue became an even bigger topic when supermodel Bella Hadid and beauty mogul Huda Kattan posted about it, showing their outrage against this prohibition. On the other hand, Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood edition cover featuring Nicole Kidman wearing Miu Miu (a look combining an extremely short skirt and top), also sparked a wave of opinions on Instagram. Many followers of the publication accused the 54-year-old actor of not being age-appropriate, and even perpetuating a fetishist “schoolgirl” fantasy.

The more I think about these two stories, the more I can’t help but feel bewildered. In March 2022, why are we still dictating what women should or shouldn’t wear? In my opinion, if it makes you happy, and you are not being forced or putting anyone’s security at risk, dress in what makes you feel good – whether it is a hijab or a miniskirt.

This kind of attention and scrutiny in the public eye is something the three powerhouses we invited to front our fifth anniversary covers are extremely used to. However, this never stopped Amina Muaddi, Nadine Njeim, and Huda Kattan from thriving in their respective fields. As you can read on our cover, this special anniversary edition is all about women who are taking Arabia global, exactly like our magic trio, who touch millions around the world through fashion, beauty, and performance. We selected this theme with a clear intention: we want to make a statement, promoting the strength and entrepreneurship of Arab women and their ever evolving role in the region, but also Arab women’s image abroad. If you live in Dubai, Riyadh, or any other major Middle Eastern city, you know that things have changed at a rapid pace, but worldwide there are still some preconceived ideas of submissiveness that we want to shatter.

On a personal level, putting together this anniversary edition was exciting, but also challenging and scary. Not being Arab myself, I heavily feel the responsibility of creating content that our readers are proud of. This feeling was multiplied times twenty when we added the pressure of having to put together the best magazine we have ever produced. Assembling these pages was also an exercise of self-discovery and reflection. I always get emotional when, during my research, I flip through past editions of Vogue Arabia, as all the major features are associated with so many adventures, trips abroad, emotions, and stress – but mainly a feeling of satisfaction and of being privileged to have the opportunity to have a job I enjoy the most. Naturally, I love the result and the strong covers that constantly position Vogue Arabia at the center of the cultural zeitgeist, but I also love all the behind-the-scenes moments – from hiding inside a tuk tuk with Syrian singer Assala in the Marrakech medina, to sharing a set with the legendary Peter Lindbergh.

As you can imagine, editing a magazine is an intricate puzzle, and I’m only a small piece of it. I would like to thank the Vogue Arabia team, all our contributors, and all our advertisers for always elevating the publication with their creativity and generosity. Lastly, and most importantly, thank you to our readers, who have been with us for the past half decade. This magazine, with 500 pages – our biggest issue ever – is our heartfelt tribute to you.

Read Next: Behind-the-Scenes of Our 5th Anniversary Shoot with Amina Muaddi, Huda Kattan, and Nadine Nassib Njeim

Originally published in the March 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia

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