As the Vogue Arabia team gears up to celebrate its three-year anniversary, it recalls some of its most iconic shoots.
HRH PRINCESS HAYFA BINT ABDULLAH AL SAUD, VOGUE ARABIA JUNE 2018
“In June last year, the 60-year ban on Saudi women driving was lifted, in one of the most visible reforms reshaping the Kingdom. On that exact month, Vogue released a historical cover, featuring the daughter of the late King of Saudi Arabia driving a red convertible in the desert of Jeddah. HRH Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud was also wearing white and leather gloves, as symbols of her new found emancipation.
By involving an A-List royal in this disruptive story, Vogue reinforced its positioning as the ultimate regional media authority, also placing itself in the epicenter of an important cultural debate that made this cover one of the most viewed of the year. As a journalist, this is a coup I’m extremely proud of, and I will never forget the hundreds of messages of Saudi women that reposted and celebrated our cover. History was made.”
—Manuel Arnaut, Editor-in-Chief
ILHAN OMAR, VOGUE ARABIA APRIL 2019
“The image of Ilhan Omar and her accompanying story is so powerful, it reveals her strength but also her beauty. Interviewing Omar was one of the highlights of my career. She is someone who has fought against the odds and came out winning. Even though her struggles with racism and prejudice are far from over, she continues to fight to be heard and to provide a voice for others. Being a black, refugee, Muslim woman in President Donald Trump’s America is no easy feat, however I am confident she will forever persevere. This quote from her will always inspire, ‘Women don’t need permission or an invitation to exist and step into our power.’”
—Alexandria Gouveia, Managing Editor
YASMINE SABRI, VOGUE ARABIA SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE
As an Arab woman, I find Yasmine Sabri to be the perfect Arab beauty, her features are so flattering. In this particular story and photoshoot, Vogue Arabia managed to focus and bring out the best in her and her iconic Arab beauty.
—Rana Hatem, Commercial Director
GIGI HADID, VOGUE ARABIA LAUNCH ISSUE MARCH 2017
“Working on the launch issue of Vogue Arabia was a milestone in my career. Having Gigi Hadid on the cover, photographed by Inez and Vinoodh, was a dream for someone who grew up reading fashion magazines. I am very proud to say that I have worked on every single issue of Vogue Arabia to date.”
—Donna Williams, Art Director
IMAAN HAMMAM AND IMAN ABDULMAJID VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2018
“I will never forget the nail-biting night in early February. Manuel and I were in the office until sometime far too close to dawn trying to bring two of the world’s most prolific supermodels in history with roots in the Arab world together. We jumped on a plane less than 48 hours later. Not many people know this but we had so little time to turn things around, Saint Laurent sent my cover dresses on the red eye from Paris to meet us at JFK with an intern in order to make it for which I will always be grateful. Iman was authentic, gracious, and proud and everything I wanted her to be. She didn’t need a Vogue cover at 63. She did it because representation was important. Little Imaan (which fondly became her name on set) later told me it was the most exciting moment of her career. You see, every so often on location, in a studio, behind the curtain or on the runway, there are moments that–for one reason or another –you know fashion has surpassed itself and something very special is unraveling. What we achieved that day was create an image with no timeline. An image that was very much needed in the industry and one that will last long after traditional print media will. Always remember that fashion is not the culture. We are.”
—Katie Trotter, Fashion Director
HM EMPRESS FARAH PAHLAVI AND HH PRINCESS NOOR, VOGUE ARABIA MARCH 2019
“Ahead of my interview with Empress Farah, I had read enough books and watched enough documentaries to know that I would be face-to-face with one of the most iconic women of the 20th century. How to make our story standout? Rather than write another nostalgia piece about the last Queen of Iran, we had the story reflect the times and even look to the future by writing a co-interview with her 26-year-old granddaughter HH Princess Noor. Published forty years after the Revolution, our story, first published in print, came out online on Iranian New Year Norwuz. When BBC senior presenter and reporter Ali Hamedani wrote me to introduce himself and say that it was well-received internationally, and especially by Iranians, I was reminded that we all have the power to instill hope and optimism if we have the courage to think big.”
—Caterina Minthe, Features Director
HALIMA ADEN,VOGUE ARABIA COVER JUNE 2017
“The first ever Vogue Arabia issue I worked on was June 2017. This also happened to beHalima Aden’s debutVogue cover. Newly signed to IMG Models, the 19-year-old had just made her catwalk debut at New York Fashion Week walking for Yeezy, Alberta Ferretti, and in Milan for Max Mara. A former Miss Minnesota contestant, she proved she was more than just a new face. This was the beginning of Aden’s journey, where she has stood as a pioneer for diversity in the fashion and beauty industry. In a video released alongside the cover shoot, Aden says, ‘Every little girl deserves to see a role model that’s dressed like her, resembles her, or even has the same characteristics as her. I think beauty is for everyone and I think everyone can look beautiful, you just have to be confident.’ Since then she has smashed stereotypes, making the covers of BritishVogue,Allure,andVogueArabia again just this month.”
—Alexandra Venison, Beauty Editor
NADINE LABAKI, VOGUE ARABIA COVER OCTOBER 2018
“Celebrating phenomenal Arab women is at the core of Vogue Arabia – and for me, the Oscar-nominated Lebanese director Nadine Labaki encapsulates all the strength and beauty of women in general and Arab women in particular. The moody shoot in Paris (for the October 2018 cover) so evocatively captures this intense and engaged director, who gazes as fearlessly at the camera as she stands behind it. The pink Chanel gloves don’t hurt either!”
—Christine Van Deemter, Copy Editor
IKRAM OMAR, ALIMA ADEN, AND AMINA ADEN, VOGUEARABIA COVER APRIL 2019
“As a woman who wears the hijab for as long as I can remember, it meant the world to me to see Halima Aden on our cover back in June 2017. History was made and Vogue Arabia was the first to but a hijabi model on a Vogue cover. I thought nothing could top that, until I saw the April 2019 cover, when three hijabi models appeared. I felt happy and empowered when I saw them pictured like the modest icons they are. This cover couldn’t have come at a better time. It was released right after the mass terrorist shootings in New Zealand’s Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Center, and it was touchingly dedicated to all the victims of Islamophobia and terrorist acts around the world.
As much as I love highlighting Arab talents with stylish photoshoots (Mona Zaki and Yasmine Sabry features are some of my favorites), nothing can top the April 2019 cover shoot for me and I trust we will accomplish so much more in the years to come. Happy birthday Vogue Arabia!”
—Khulood Ahmed, Online writer