From April 10-13th Dubai held it’s 5th annual Fashion Forward fashion week, showcasing the best in Middle Eastern designers. The Gulf region has positively exploded with fashionistas with piles of cold hard cash to spend, and designers are keen on tapping local tastes.
In response I have decided to do a weekly blogpost dedicated to the fashions worn by famous female Arab personalities. I am not turning this into a fashion blog; it is simply a fun way for me to release from more serious topics, indulge in some fashion and, of course, study the culture of the Middle East!
**NOTE: I don’t claim to know anything about fashion. I just think it’s fun to review Arab fashion. I also admit that I got the idea from The Democracy Diva, THE most fabulous fashion WordPress blog that rips apart Western celebs and is the only blog I have actually followed continuously for the past 3 years. The writer also happens to be a lawyer-in-the-making (she already passed her bar exam) so it just goes to show that you can be obsessed with politics and international affairs and the law and still indulge in some fashion fantasies!
Haifa Wehbe in Lebanon
Haifa looks like a robin’s egg: in other words, absolutely flawless! This look is classic, chic sophistication and proves why Haifa is ‘Malikat Jamal el Koun.’ Haifa looks tailored to perfection. I’m not the biggest fan of her short haircut, but I want this entire look.
Rafeea Al-Hajsi in Al-Ain, UAE
If Rafeea isn’t married to an Emirati prince yet someone get her to the alter ASAP, because she looks like a princess! (She’s in fact the first Emirati model). The color, the headpiece, that necklace: my only complaint is those bulky glittery platforms. Even flat sandals would have been a better choice.
Hadia Ghaleb in Dubai
Hadia Ghaleb is apparently an Egyptian fashion icon, but here she looks more like an angel warrior! She wasn’t on my radar before but boy, is she ever now! This look is AMAZING!! My only question is whether or not that is a wig she’s wearing.
Hadia Ghaleb at the Dubai World Cup, UAE
Who cares about horses when Hadia was walking around in this insanely perfect ensemble??! Everything together could have screamed sugary kitsch, but Hadia pulls it off with aplomb. That coat is to DIE for.
Stephanie Saliba at MTV Studios in Beirut, Lebanon
She looks like the baby blue-and-cumulus-cloud ceiling I thought would be cool to paint on my ceiling as a kid. That’s a compliment: the baby blue color is beautiful and I’m jealous she wears these shapes so well.
Nancy Ajram at the Children Cancer Center of St. Jude’s evening at the Sheraton in Kuwait
A beautiful woman doing good deeds: this is easily one of the most beautiful dresses Nancy has ever worn. That beaded bodice is EXQUISITE, I love the black bow paired with the navy skirt and it’s hard to tell from the picture but there are subtle cut-outs on the sides.
Shiraz in London, UK
If that jacket and skirt are pleather and not leather Shiraz will be booted down to the bottom of this list. As it is, the outfit might be slightly tacky and passe but it’s also extremely badass and kick-ass.
Rosemin Manji in Dubai, UAE
Taking a tea party look to a whole new level. Rosemin manages to pull of an extremely acidic yellow with an intriguing but not-common raspberry pair of pumps. I think it works because the shapes are dainty, not provocative. She could have done with a different clutch, though.
Najwa Karam performing at the Formula One concert in Bahrain
It may be the smoke and lighting, but Najwa looks like a superhero superstar. Pink and yellow can be too girly sometimes, but the modern shape keeps it from going there. The white band makes her waist look so tiny!
Haifa Wehbe in Egypt
Haifa shows that divas don’t have to live in stilettos to pack a punch, and even though those Isabel Marant shoes are post-trendy (despite the fact that Middle East celebs like Haifa and Shiraz are still rockin’ em), I’m still onboard. The necklace looks like jelly beans and is a bit out of place with the rest of her edgy outfit, but it’s definitely unique.
Dominique radiates feminine elegance in this pastel-perfection gown. The black nails keep it from being too saccharine.
Rita Dahdah in Beirut
It’s like the most beautiful reversible couch cover. I love that stunning secret lining that pops against the white, although that strip along the top looks like the mice weren’t finished sewing her dress.
Sandy in Egypt
Plum? Eggplant? Sandy radiates earthy, natural beauty for Easter (or maybe it’s just that fabulous bike full of flowers behind her). It’s a grown-up look for her, but she could do without that unnecessarily big bag.
Jannat Mahid in Morocco
That flower hair wreath usually is paired with ratty, messed-up hair, albeit at a music festival and not paired with such a classy, pretty dress such as this. Nevertheless, the colors are gorgeous, and Jannat glows.
Haifa Wehbe in Dubai
Haifa looks gorgeous as always, but it’s fairly boring for a Pucci dress and she’s being upstaged by her friends (although that may be a compliment….)
Nancy Ajram at the Fashion Foward Dubai show at the Atlantis Resort
Unlike her first look, this dress is more typical of Nancy’s fashion choices: pretty but usually uninteresting. I do love her gorgeous mermaid hair.
Nawal El Zoghbi at the Riva Fashion Show in Dubai
Nawal looks like an Arabian Barbie. The dress is a wee bit sheer, and I wouldn’t have worn the bulky black watch, but Nawal looks gorgeous. Her hair and makeup is flawless.
Ghina Ghandour Daouk at the Red Sea, Egypt
Also competing for the role of Arab Barbie, Ghina win’s the brunette Barbie role. I hate one-piece bathing suits but the little girl in me loves this. And those sunglasses.
Alanoud Bakr before the Zeena Zaki fashion show in Dubai
Alanoud (aka Lady Fozaza) really does look like Eva Mendez (a comparison she herself has made). The color is what makes this dress really special, and the shortened mermaid shape is a fresher look.
Myriam Fares performing in Kuwait
Myriam Fares is the Queen of Stage for a reason: her stage outfits (usually by BFF Rami Kadi) rock! The colors are a little on the clownish side, but the daring back and cutouts on the front (not visible in this pic) up the ante.
Doesn’t Hind look like Lana Del Rey’s doppelganger? I swear I did a doubletake, although I’ve certainly never seen Lana dressed in anything as ornate as this sparkly Yousef Aljasmi dress. The subtle lattice v-neck is a nice touch.
Like Haifa, Shayma also chose one of the world’s most boring Pucci dresses. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the overall look is pretty plain.
Elissa in Cairo, Egypt
Some fans compared this dress to a mermaid, but I’d say it’s a mermaid going to prom. I’m just honestly never wowed by Elissa’s fashion choices, because she plays it too safe and boring.
Boshra at the International Squash Open in El Gouna, Egypt
Boshra was closing the International Squash Open with a performance, but her dress didn’t exactly hit the highest of notes. That dark green color rarely looks good on anyone, and I hate one sleeve dresses (that additional fabric on the side also didn’t help the look). But she looked lovely in the close-up shots.
I’m sure Dominique was the Nissan salesroom’s most memorable customer of the day. I actually really dig the leggings, and I like how she simultaneously downplayed them/played them up with the red accessories and ponytail.
Shaza performing in Cairo, Egypt for Easter
Instead of donning a floor-length gown to perform in that she could barely walk two feet in, Shaza chose this cool, laid-back jumpsuit for her Easter concert. The pink peep-toes were kind of a random choice, but I’m digging the aviators.
Shatha Hassoun at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, UAE
It was so hot outside that when Shatha stepped out of the shower she just kept her towel wrapped around her and headed off to the marina. Despite the shapeless fit, she manages to look surprisingly smoking–or maybe it’s just the hazy Dubai weather.
Arwa in Bahrain
Something about this just screams outdated and matronly on Arwa. The up-do and heavy makeup don’t help.
Aline Khalaf in Beirut, Lebanon
Aline chose a pretty unremarkable dress to celebrate her birthday in, and why is her hair covering half her face? Is she hiding plastic surgery or wrinkles?
Myriam Klink in Lebanon
Oh Myriam. Not only is this dress a pretty blatant copycat of Stella McCartney dresses that were all the rage among Hollywood actresses, it’s just too much. How can she move without baring her bum? Props for girlfriend looking so fresh-faced without makeup though!
Annabella Hilal in Beirut, Lebanon
All these pieces are strong on their own, but together make for one heck of a headache on Annabella. I kind of like the pop-tastic skirt, but pairing it with those sky-blue heels just doesn’t work, nor does that weird velvet-and-sheer top. The tchitchi doll, all the rage in the Middle East as the Arab version to the Fendi bird keychains, just adds to the bizarreness of the look.
Dominique Hourani in Dubai, UAE for the Dubai Polo World Cup
Polo usually brings out the classiness in people, but apparently not Dominique, who committed fashion suicide with this look. Al Jaras magazine wrote her up for this outfit, and I can’t blame them. The weirdly-shaped sunhat with veil and all that black lace make her look like she’s going to a funeral, especially when paired with those horrific skeleton-print leggings.