Potentially one of my biggest achievements to date was this summer being recognised as part of a new generation of "globetrotting Arab women" in the July / August issue of Harpers Bazaar Arabia. I have strong ties with my Middle Eastern heritage, as well as with my London roots, and so it was such an honour to be included in the latest issue of the magazine...
The burgeoning fashion and beauty industries in the Middle East are becoming an international power, and with them, massively successful Middle Eastern bloggers and photographers have begun to enjoy many of the same perks as their Western counterparts. Just like ones based in New York, L.A., London, and Sydney, Middle East fashion blogs represent a spectrum of people, personal styles, and philosophies. From religious fashion bloggers who advocate for modest dressing to fashion-forward bloggers who champion standing out, personal style in the region is, as anywhere else, nuanced and varied.
Yet, blogging in the Middle East comes with its own set of challenges. Attitudes throughout the region range from the more lax, like Dubai, where you can essentially wear whatever you want, to Saudi Arabia, where women are not permitted to drive or even leave the country without explicit written consent from a male spouse or guardian. But regardless of city or state, there is value placed on the traditional.
Last month, some of Iran’s top models were arrested for posting pictures of themselves on social media without the veil.
The arrests came under Operation Spider 2, a crackdown launched two years ago that appears to predominantly target those in the fashion industry in a bid to renew “Islamic values” and “monitor the use of social media by the Western imperialist powers to change the Iranian-Islamic life-style.”
Indeed, the Internet and social media has arguably democratized the whole world. But whereas some consider this a negative change, it’s more productive to view as potential for growth, rather than a moving away from fundamental values that are intrinsic to the core of a society.