Inside Our Saudi Issue Starring the New Faces of the Kingdom’s Cultural Renaissance and its Pioneering Icons
Saudi star models Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar, dressed in bespoke pieces by designer Arwa Al Banawi. Photographed by Hayat Osamah and artwork by Lulwah Al Homoud
The June 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia celebrates 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 dives deep 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. Al Homoud’s work can usually be seen on the walls of some of the biggest museums and galleries around the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the collections of the British Museum. Interviewed by leading Saudi curator Mashael Al Rushaid, the artist states, “Art can definitely be a mechanism for change; it does open healthy dialogues between people,” further adding, “National branding is through art.” This English cover is fronted by Saudi star models Shahad Salman and Abdulrahman Alammar, dressed in bespoke pieces by designer Arwa Al Banawi. They represent the strength and uniqueness of the Kingdom’s new generation of creatives.
In the same creative context, the second cover is a gathering of two generations of Saudi singers: newcomer Tamtam and the legendary Abadi Al-Johar. They pose on a set that celebrates the work of rising talent Abdulaziz AlAbdulaziz and his unmissable kaleidoscopic world, wearing bespoke looks by Hadeel AlHussain. Al-Johar holds a hand-painted oud. “I am happy to be a part of this work and to collaborate with a male artist who has been a source of inspiration for many past and present generations, and a young female artist with a global presence,” says AlAbdulaziz. Al-Johar states, “Bringing together artists from all over the Gulf states and urging them to cooperate in developing Gulf music will raise the profile of Gulf art. This is because art in the region is built on individual pursuits rather than cooperative collective ones.”
The issue also features Saudi’s most exciting young fashion talents, along with legends of the Kingdom’s creative industries. In a rare media appearance, Adnan Akbar opens up about his groundbreaking career and future projects, and speaks proudly of his home: “Makkah has always been, and still is, the crossroads of cultures and civilizations.” We also meet octogenarian female poet and journalist Thuraya Qabel, an activist who played a pioneering role in carrying the banner of women and breaking unjust traditions. She advises: “Don’t forget that you are a Saudi woman and that you are the daughter of a country that is the Qibla of the nations, and this means this is a great and holy position.”
Saudi Arabia’s energetic creative scene is represented throughout the June issue. A fresh cohort of designers is affirming the strength of Saudi Arabia to grow into a leading power of great design: meet Dania Shinkar, Hadeel AlHussain, Nouf Alhazmi (RealSelf), Raghad A Alhogail (Ragail), and Yazeed (UnasTokyo), who are focusing on sustainable innovation.
Moreover, Vogue Arabia meets dancer Samira Alkhamis, tenor and composer Marwan Fagi, countertenor Mohammed Khayran Al-Zahrani, and soprano Sawsan Al Bahiti. These four Saudi artists are raising the bar of high art in the Kingdom. They are shaping the landscapes of their respective fields and challenging artistic and cultural expectations through their distinct talents.
Also in June, the spotlight is turned on women from across the Kingdom who are excelling in their fields as artists, writers, humanitarians, pilots, and lawyers. These include the three generations behind Help Center Suad Al-Husseini Juffali, Maha Juffali-Ghandour and Dania Ghandour Alyan; aerospace engineer and rocket specialist Mishaal Ashemimry; lawyer and the first female founder of a Saudi law firm, Sofana Dahlan; and Mashael bint Mansour Binsultan, founder of the Equestrian Union initiative. These trailblazers are creating a new narrative of what contemporary Arab women represent.
An interview with social activist and the Kingdom’s first UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, Muna AbuSulayman, brings forth her moving message on female empowerment, which will also be highlighted in a new book. The Saudi issue further features Jeddah-born Amy Roko, who has carved out a creative space without ever revealing her face. With 1.5 million followers on social media, the Saudi humorist opens up about her choice to wear the niqab, stating, “The stereotypical image of a woman who covers her face is of someone who is timid, submissive… I’m offended. I’m not timid and I’m not quiet. I’m bold.”
Read Next: Looking Back on Vogue Arabia’s Previous Saudi Issues and Their Landmark Achievements