When it comes to the fashion industry, this is THE list to be on. The five Arab women who made the list this year are true game changers, giving a voice and face to Middle Eastern-inspired fashion and culture.
1. Ghizlan Guenez
The Dubai-based founder of The Modist, has gone from strength-to-strength ever since she started her luxury modest e-commerce site a little over a year ago. She has, as per her article in Vogue, “Changed the way people think about modest fashion”. Covering up doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. Middle Eastern women are some of the most fashionable in the world and Ghizlan, with her genius vision, has created a platform that allows women to be fashionable without compromising on their ideals. And, right from concept to delivery, The Modist experience is flawless. It ships to over 120 countries worldwide, has offices in Dubai and London and, shows no signs of slowing down.
2. Anok Yai
The 20-year-old Egyptian-American is the first black model after Naomi Campbell, to open a show for Prada – considered one of the holy grails of a model’s career. A single image on Instagram taken by a photographer, who discovered her at Howard University’s homecoming, got 20,000 likes, prompting a slew of modelling agencies to try and sign the beauty. She’s now a part of Prada’s SS18 and Riccardo-Tisci designed Nike campaigns. She has also been signed by Estée Lauder.
3. Marriam Mossalli
I’m beyond excited to represent the Khaleej as a new addition to the prestigious #bof500 list! It’s such an honor & true benchmark in my career to have this validation from the global fashion community. Thank you @bof & @imranamed for the honor! This is just the beginning for #SaudiArabia and I’m beyond proud to represent our region as a catalyst to the changes happening in our industry! #BusinessOfFashion #FashionIndustry #SaudiArabia #SaudiWomen #Fashion #BOF #SaudiWomen #FashionEditor #Instigator #Entrepreneur #WomenEmpowerment #MarriamMossalli #Vision2030
Marriam Mossalli’s efforts have been vital to the growth of The Kingdom’s fashion industry. Her agency, Niche Arabia, is the only luxury consultancy in Saudi. It provides advertising, media, event planning (she organised the first all-women’s sports day in Saudi Arabia), social services and publishing services. Marriam’s book Under The Abaya: Street Style From Saudi Arabia, literally gave Saudi woman a face and identity. Documenting Saudi women’s street style, it showcases faces and represents women from all vocations; right from students to doctors and engineers. Marriam also directed a short movie called Under The Abaya, which celebrates businesswomen in Saudi Arabia. The force behind the blog ShoesandDrama, Marriam is also passionate about changing the way Saudi women are perceived globally. She recently spoke to The National about her book and said, “This isn’t just a fashion book. Don’t look at it as something so one-dimensional. Because here’s the thing: Saudi women are not just a media avatar – that girl dressed all in black, covered, uneducated, walking a few steps behind a man. We are so much more than that.”
4. Jamila Halfichi
The fashion editor for Asharq Al Awsat (a famous pan-Arab newspaper that was founded in 1978 in London) is one of the region's most influential voices. The newspaper is printed and distributed across the Arab speaking world daily. She started ten years ago and continues to shape attitudes and impact people globally with the topics she covers. She was also a fashion producer at MBC in London prior to her current role.
5. Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch
With the wealth she inherited from her grandfather, Haj Ahmed Benlafki who made his money in tea, Salwa has built one of the most profoundly powerful retail empires in the region. The founder and CEO of The Aksal Group – a Moroccan leader in the retail industry – she owns shopping malls and is a sole franchise owner for several brands such as Ralph Lauren, Zara, Bana Republic, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Gap, in the country. The Aksal Group also owns 50 per cent of Morocco Mall, one of the largest malls in Africa which has an estimated turnover of Dhs1,887 million (US$514 million).