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Editor’s Letter: How Our Saudi Issue Honors the Women Pushing the Kingdom Forward

Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Greg Adamski

A Vogue Arabia tradition, every June, we release our annual Saudi Issue. I’m proud to say that our publication is the first international title to really focus on the Kingdom, long before Saudi “opened up,” and before Saudi became a market that everyone wants to be in — generally motivated by commercial benefits. At Vogue Arabia, our inspiration has always been the culture, the people, and their stories — covering the new generation, but also the iconic names that paved the way for the upcoming creatives. From Tamtam to Abadi Aljohar, from Lulwah Al Homoud, to Safeya Binzagr, the list goes on and on.

We have also accomplished many daring “firsts” that I’m proud of: we were the first magazine to bring a supermodel to Saudi Arabia, and we produced the first ever editorial shoot in the unbraved lands of NEOM. And our iconic cover from June 2018 featuring HRH Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud driving a red convertible? It was truly epic.

Yara Alhogbani for Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Sam Rawadi

As Saudi looks ahead, so do we, this time with a triptych of covers that pay homage to women accomplishing amazing things, pushing the country forward. Wanting to inspire “every girl with a dream and a racket,” Yara Alhogbani is the new sports sensation in the Kingdom, and the first professional Saudi tennis player competing in big international competitions. In the opening portrait, she is wearing a beautiful couture dress by Jeddah-based designer Tima Abid, hand-embroidered to feature the country’s emblem.

Shanina Shaik for Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Greg Swales

One of the most successful Middle Eastern descendent models of all time, mama-to-be Shanina Shaik graces our Arabic cover. Inside the magazine, she speaks about her Saudi heritage, and the racism she faced in the modeling industry. From the runway to the stage, our third star is celebrated for having one of the most distinctive new voices in the Kingdom. Dalia Mubarak, who continues to redefine herself, bravely shares, “I think that my life and personality do not resemble the stereotypical image of Arab women in general, and the Gulf in particular; but I am very proud of my Arab-Saudi background, and hope to represent Arab women in a different and beautiful way.”

Dalia Mubarak for Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Sam Rawadi

While we focus on people, in this issue we also bring attention to the stunning and rich landscapes of Saudi. Many years ago, I had the privilege of traveling with HRH Princess Reema bin Bandar Al Saud to the province of Asir, and I fell completely in love with its green mountains, colorful houses, and the tradition for men to wear flower crowns on their heads — and yes, I was scared of all the naughty monkeys you see running around. Since then, I’ve always wanted to produce a photoshoot in this magical location, so rich in colors and human warmth. If you are ready to be transported to a Saudi you never thought existed, turn the page and join us on this voyage.

Read Next: Watch: 5 Saudi Residents Share a Peek at Life Within the Kingdom in a Series of Personal Videos

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