Shortly after its first anniversary, Vogue Arabia made history by launching the first-ever Vogue issue dedicated to Saudi Arabia. The June 2018 edition starring HRH Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud had been the first of many annual issues to come that would spotlight the burgeoning talent of the Kingdom.
On the occasion of Saudi National Day, we look back on all our editions dedicated to celebrating the Kingdom’s people, culture, and fashion.
June 2018, starring HRH Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud
One of the publication’s most groundbreaking covers, and the first-ever Vogue issue dedicated to Saudi Arabia, it pictured HRH Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud in the driving seat during the month when Saudi lifted the driving ban on women. The artist and princess was shot by photographer Boo George in the desert outside Jeddah, marking the debut magazine cover for the daughter of the late King Abdullah.
“People often ask me what made me want to be on the cover of Vogue,” said HRH reflecting on the cover a year later. “There were two significant reasons that compelled me to accept the invitation. Firstly, I am a Saudi female artist, and Vogue Arabia is a prominent, well-established media brand with a wide reach. I am excited about the work I’m doing, and I saw it as a great opportunity to celebrate and share my paintings with an audience that is already familiar with me as a public figure within my country. Secondly, the specific edition of the magazine was exclusively focused on Saudi Arabia. Given my strong sense of patriotism and allegiance to my homeland, I felt that the timing was right to be involved in an exciting publication celebrating the Kingdom.”
June 2019, starring Winnie Harlow and Shahad Salman
In yet another world exclusive, Vogue Arabia flew top international model Winnie Harlow to Saudi Arabia, where she modeled alongside rising star Shahad Salman for the June issue, themed “women standing for women.” Photographed by Dan Beleiu in Riyadh’s Sadus heritage village, cover stars Harlow, from Canada, and Salman, from the Kingdom, shared their touching stories of success, notably pointing out how vitiligo – a skin condition caused by the lack of melanin – hasn’t stopped them from achieving their dreams.
It didn’t take long for the distinctive cover shot in Saudi Arabia to grab global attention as it appeared on one of the biggest TV shows in the US. When Harlow appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, in September 2019, the television host took the opportunity to discuss her work with the magazine. “I thought this was a cool thing. You’re on the cover of Vogue Arabia,” said Fallon. Harlow proudly chimed in to discuss the shoot, saying, “That’s my first Vogue. This is the beautiful Shahad, she is gorgeous. I really wanted to do something powerful for my first cover with Vogue Arabia. I’m really close with the people behind the scenes there. We’d been having discussions for about a year about what would be really powerful and we found her on Instagram, and she’s a friend of mine.”
December 2020, starring five young Saudi women, next star Saudi models, and couturier Ashi with muse and model Cindy Bruna
The December 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia celebrated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a five-cover special edition dedicated to the country and its people. For the first cover, the special project was lensed by Hayat Osamah and curated by historian Dr Layla AlBassam. It stars five young Saudi women from across the country dressed in their respective regional dress. The calligraphy reads, “In the heart of Saudi.” In brilliant contrast, the second cover draws the eye to the next star Saudi models, shot by photographer Txema Yeste with surrealist effect against the smart city of NEOM. International Saudi couturier Ashi, who has dressed Beyoncé, Cardi B, and Billy Porter, is also featured on a cover alongside model and Ashi muse Cindy Bruna.
The issue also included an exclusive feature by Saudi ambassador to the US, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Photographed for Vogue Arabia by her daughter, Princess Sarah bint Faisal Al Saud, she penned a letter to Saudi women, stating, “Whatever the future holds for the Kingdom, young Saudi women will be at the front of the line, integral to the process of shaping it. And that means, very soon, we will no longer refer to the ‘first’ Saudi women this or the ‘first’ Saudi woman that – because the presence and contribution of Saudi women in every job, occupation, career, and sector will simply be commonplace and unremarkable.” Princess Reema added, “The time has come to be judged by our capabilities and accomplishments and not by our gender.”
June 2021, honoring the young artists and pioneers of Saudi’s cultural scene
The June 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia celebrated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with two cover stories where fashion and art meet, giving rise to a symbiosis of creative synergies. The first cover delved into the universe of internationally renowned Saudi artist Lulwah Al Homoud, who honored Vogue by creating the bespoke cover artwork, faithful to her unmissable style where calligraphy and geometric patterns coexist. It also featured Saudi star models Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar, dressed in bespoke pieces by designer Arwa Al Banawi.
The second cover was a gathering of two generations of Saudi singers: the legendary Abadi Al-Johar and newcomer Tamtam. They posed on a set that celebrates the work of rising talent Abdulaziz AlAbdulaziz and his unmissable kaleidoscopic world.
June 2022, celebrating the Kingdom’s women with a triptych of covers
Saudi Arabia’s vision for art, sport, and fashion was celebrated in Vogue Arabia’s June 2022 issue dedicated to the Kingdom. Wearing a made-to-measure Tima Abid couture dress featuring Saudi’s emblem in gold embroidery, Yara Alhogbani, the first professional tennis player from the Kingdom personified the country’s leaps in sports.
Representing the country for fashion, supermodel Shanina Shaik, who is of Saudi heritage, posed cradling her baby bump and shared her excitement at becoming a mother for the first time along with her pride in her Middle Eastern origins. Songstress Dalia Mubarak also posed on a cover; the Saudi diva has performed alongside iconic artists such as Rashed Al-Majed, Rabeh Sager, and Majid Al Muhandis.