With the Holy Month comes an undeniably festive feeling. Evenings get brighter, and Arab entertainment booms with Ramadan specials. One of the most awaited? Yasmine Sabri‘s Eid Al-Fitr blockbuster Abu Al-Nasab, a comedy film co-starring Egyptian actor Mohamed Imam, and directed by Rami Imam. All set for her return to the big screen, the star gears up for her comeback with not one, but three Vogue Arabia covers for our April 2023 issue.
The cover shoot, which highlight’s Sabri’s iconic beauty, was shot against projections of magnificent creatures with a cover line tagging her as a “force of nature”, and rightly so. Over her career, the Egyptian beauty has carved a strong niche for herself, and this month, she opens up about her childhood and how it prepared her for the public stage. “My grandma raised me well, her manner turned me into a disciplined teenage girl who didn’t commit many mistakes,” Sabri shares fondly. “I’m a woman born to be in front of the camera and be under the spotlight.”
The April 2023 issue also amplifies the importance of family bonds during the Holy Month. In our Families of Ramadan section, Somali Canadian model Sabrina Elba poses with mother Maryam Egal as the two talk about their special relationship. “The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my mother is to use my voice. Growing up as a Black woman, you feel quite stunted all the time. I never felt encouraged in work, in school, in life, and it was my mom encouraging me and reminding me that it’s a privilege to be able to use your voice, having gone through a period where people were silenced, particularly women,” she shares. As for Egyptian sports couple Nouran Gohar—who is currently squash world number one—and husband, fencing champion Ziad Elsissy, this month of introspection only results in more gratitude. “It’s the hardest month of the year for training, but we love it,” says Elsissy. “Ramadan in Egypt is so much fun. The family gatherings, praying at the mosque, the desserts. We’d want to pass everything down to our future children. Wherever we decide to live, we want to raise them to be like us, goal-oriented, proud Egyptians.” Another duo that shares a peek into their world? Mayada Badr, CEO of the Saudi Culinary Arts commission, and her sister Alanoud Badr, the much-loved influencer and presenter. “To me Ramadan is all about ‘Al Jamaa,’ the gathering of the family,” says Mayada, while Alanoud adds, “As Saudis we are known to be extremely generous. We just cannot wait to open our houses to everyone, we want to share our food, we want to share everything.”
No celebratory time is truly complete without food. While the Holy Month focuses on self-improvement and abstaining from indulgence, it’s also a time of celebrating the culture and cuisines that make the Middle East unique. Cue Shadin Hamdan, the 25-year-old Palestinian-American baker who is preserving—you may even say promoting—the very DNA of Palestinian culture with her Kanafa Cups business. “We’re all human and we all love food. What better way to share our own cultures than through our food?” she tells Vogue Arabia. “My best friend is Italian and had never heard of kanafah. Then tried it and loved it; her family too. She’s a teacher now and she knows about Ramadan. She had one student fasting and she asked her if she was celebrating Eid. That student’s face lit up because her teacher wasn’t Arab or Muslim, but she understood what Eid was. Growing up I didn’t have that. I said to her, ‘Do you know what you just did? That kid is going to go home and tell her parents that her teacher understood what Eid was. That’s going to mean the world to them because it’s still not spoken about here.’”
While some families use this special time to celebrate, many in the region are still getting back on their feet in the wake of a civil war, and a natural disaster. This month, Vogue Arabia touches base with six pioneering women and men of Syrian heritage—fashion designers Maya Chantout and Moulham Obid, jewelry designer Dania Haffar, film director Soudade Kaadan, artist Diana Al-Hadid, and Inara NGO founder Arwa Damon—about their memories of their homeland, and how their professions are keeping Syria alive in the world’s heart. In a candid conversation about her country, former war correspondent Damon puts things into perspective, saying, “The response to Ukraine from global leaders, from individuals, and from the media is the way we should be responding to each and every single crisis, tragedy, war, and natural disaster that happens.”
Of course, we couldn’t leave you without a healthy dose of fashion inspiration for the most special time of the year, and this month, Moroccan designer Sara Chraibi takes us behind-the-scenes of her debut Paris Couture Week collection, which showcased the power of her North African roots. Replete with intricate braided details, pearl embellishment, and indulgent velvet elements, Chraibi’s latest offerings used the ‘Sfifa’ weaving technique or ‘Moroccan embroidery’ to create a new fabric steeped in tradition. In her words, “I aspire to fashion that can make women beautiful as they are. Today fashion can only be enriched by its diversity.”
Also on our radar this month? Vogue Arabia’s edit of the most exciting kaftans—think OTT embellishment, dramatic ruffles, and rich jewel tones—to the boldest eye makeup trends, as seen on Emirati filmmaker Sarah Alhashimi. Take cues now!