rawdah mohamed

Day in the Life of Somali Model Rawdah Mohamed

Day in the Life of Somali Model Rawdah Mohamed

She documented human history in For Sama, but for Oscar-nominated Waad Al-Kateab, the fight continues until Syria is free and justice is served.
Waad Al-Kateab wears Jumpsuit, Emilia Wickstead; earrings, Cleopatra’s Bling. Photography: Sebastian Böttcher
Waad Al-Kateab is sitting in the Channel 4 news offices in London. Her hair cut in a neat, long bob, she’s wearing a floral summer dress while the bright morning sun shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows behind her. She looks like any ordinary 29-year-old woman. Yet she’s anything but. In 2011, Al-Kateab was an activist with a camera who went on to film one of the most important documentaries of the 21st century: For Sama. The film spans five years in Syria, starting with the peaceful protests against president Bashar Hafez al-Assad, through the Arab Spring and, ultimately, Al-Kateab being forced to flee the country of her birth in 2016. Unlike some war documentaries, For Sama reveals the full spectrum of humanity beyond the frontlines. While it provides a raw, inside perspective of the horror and systematic attacks on civilians, it also underscores moments of joy. We see Al-Kateab marry Hamza, a doctor who built the hospital in Aleppo where most of the footage is filmed; we witness baby Sama enter the world, and we watch friends and strangers become one community amid darkness and despair.
Al-Kateab, a young filmmaker and citizen journalist who moved to Aleppo to study in 2009, always kept her Sony camcorder rolling, filming approximately 500 hours of footage. It took two years for her and co-director Edward Watts – who she met through her work as journalist for Channel 4 – to cut it down to a 95-minute documentary. For Sama went on to achieve global acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature and winning best documentary at this year’s Bafta awards (where it also set a record for most nominated documentary), as well as four British Independent Film awards. The recognition is testament to Al-Kateab’s talent for showing the human story that so many governments still choose to ignore. Yet, a year after the release For Sama, there is a look of pain and sadness in her eyes. “Nothing has changed in Syria. It’s still happening,” she says. While news coverage of the civil war has decreased and the fanfare surrounding the film has slowed down, the crisis hasn’t ended. “There are still people in Aleppo being shelled and bombed.”
Waad Al-Kateab wears Dress, pants, Simone Rocha; earrings, Cleopatra’s Bling. Photography: Sebastian Böttcher
Does she feel guilty for leaving? Her body closes in on itself; she folds her arms and her eyes well up. “If we were there, we could help a little,” she says, her voice faltering. “One day I risked my life and went to Aleppo. I felt it was the right thing to do. Now, I know it’s the right thing to do but I feel I’m not able to do this. I’m not the same person who left the city in 2016. It’s confusing and the guilt is something I don’t expect I will get away from.” Of course, if she hadn’t left Aleppo, fleeing after Russia threatened to bomb the last hospital where they were working, For Sama may never have reached the big screen. “Sometimes I feel that was right, but there are times when I think, maybe I’m just saying this because I want to make it easier for myself,” she considers. “When I’m talking to someone who is still in Aleppo, I feel so much shame. I’m trying to help but I’m not there. It’s hard.”
Witnessing so much tragedy has left Al-Kateab battling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “My main problem is the nightmares. It’s still very real for me – I’ve never been able to ignore what happened,” she shares. She even feels guilty for having nightmares. “I know that whatever I feel now is nothing compared to what is still going on in Syria. What happened to me is just a little compared to other people. I would love one day to feel some healing, but the only thing that will help me do that is feeling justice for Syria and its people.”
Waad Al-Kateab wears Dress, Worme; shoes, Manolo Blahnik; earrings, Ara Vartanian; ring, Waad Al-Kateab’s own.Photography: Sebastian Böttcher
After fleeing Aleppo, Al-Kateab and her family lived briefly in Turkey before seeking asylum in the UK. That’s the abridged version – the full tale is one full of bureaucracy failings and political injustice.
Her family arrived in London in 2018, after the 2016 Brexit referendum, the result of which was in large part prompted by voters’ issues with border control around an influx of migrants and refugees. “I mean, oh my God,” she says, half laughing about the difficult timing. Yet, ever the pragmatist, Al-Kateab decided to not only be a voice for Syrians, but refugees, too. “I feel that I can affect people in their thinking about what it means to be a refugee, and why it’s important for us to not close ourselves. At the Baftas, I was the only refugee nominated. I felt that I was in a position where I could fight for different issues.”
“The most important thing is to maintain the conversation about Syria… it’s never too late for accountability and justice”
While she feels accepted in the UK, Al-Kateab struggles with displacement. She and her family never intended to leave Aleppo. They risked their lives and the lives of their children – she was pregnant with their second child – to stay in Syria. “When I watch the film I’m able to accept everything that happened to us, but the displacement I can’t feel OK about – when we were saying goodbye to the city…” She trails off briefly. “We were fighting so hard to stay.”
Al-Kateab’s daughters, Sama, who is now four-and-a-half, and Taima, who is three, have settled into life in England. Like her mother, Sama initially experienced nightmares. “We had doctors help her and she is much better. She rarely wakes up at night crying or screaming now,” Al-Kateab shares. The girls have adapted so well that they even have London accents, which Al-Kateab half-facetiously seems less than keen on – not so much for the actual dialect than for their heritage. “They are happy,” she says, smiling. “They speak a mix of English and Arabic. We are trying to keep the Arabic level good, but it’s difficult.”
Waad Al-Kateab wears Dress, Roksanda; shoes, Jimmy Choo; earrings, rings, bracelets, Bar Jewellery; ring, Alighieri. Photography: Sebastian Böttcher
While Sama is too young to remember what she witnessed in Aleppo, her mother aims to keep the girls connected to their roots. Al-Kateab is hopeful. “As Sama grows older, she will be able to understand more. We try to keep the conversation about Aleppo and Syria and I’m trying to tell them stories before bed. I want to keep part of that culture that Hamza and I believe in, and we feel that they should know where they come from, including all the elements like Ramadan and Eid.” One way to understand is to watch her searing documentary. “I don’t know if I will show them the film,” says Al-Kateab. “We need to see when they are ready. Sama has seen the trailer – she loves to watch it.” Naya al Altrash, the daughter of a family friend, Afraa Hashem – both of whom feature in For Sama – was shown the documentary when she was six. “The film answered so many questions for her,” explains Al-Kateab. “She was three-and-half when she left. Now, she is able to see the story as someone from the inside and the outside.”
[embedded content]
Since moving to London – the family was granted leave to remain shortly after arriving – Hamza is no longer practicing as a doctor but is working towards a master’s degree in public health. Al-Kateab continues to work as a journalist for Channel 4, producing stories on justice, Syria, and Covid-19. She is also dedicated to three major ventures: a fiction project related to Syria, a new documentary, and Action for Sama, an ongoing campaign to end the targeting of healthcare facilities in Syria. It’s currently building a case against the Syrian regime and Russia for alleged war crimes – For Sama footage will be used as evidence. “The most important thing is to maintain the conversation about Syria,” Al-Kateab says. “If it’s too late for governments to intervene and stop it, it’s never too late for accountability and justice.”
While Al-Kateab may feel guilt for not being in Syria, she continues to fight for Aleppo from afar. “My main hope is to see something changed in Syria soon. I hope we can return to the place we fought for,” she says. Her dream is for citizens to feel empowered. “That’s why this whole Syrian revolution started. If we felt that we were being respected, or empowered, I think the situation wouldn’t have come to this.” After her years staring death in the eye, her words are poignant. “When I was in Aleppo, I was forced to live as if every moment was my last. Until today, I feel that this is the best thing to do. There is not a lot of time in the future so everything you want to do, do now. Tell everyone you love that you love them, right now. Don’t hide any of these feelings because when you have lost them, there is no more time.” 
Read more: Meet The Beirut Fashion Designers Refusing To Give Up Hope

Arab Models Rawdah Mohamed, Aouatif Saadi, and Nadia Khaya on Immigrating, Racism, and Finding Home Within

Arab Models Rawdah Mohamed, Aouatif Saadi, and Nadia Khaya on Immigrating, Racism, and Finding Home Within

In the fashion industry, the winds of change are blowing fast and furious. Nepotism, colorism, and prejudice are pushed further into the stratosphere as three women – part of a brave army leading the new world – harness the power of their authenticity to light a true path for all to come.
Nadia (back left) wears dress, Rami Al Ali; belt, necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg; shoes, Taro Ishida; earrings, Bibi Van Der Velden. Rawdah (back right) wears – dress, Ronald Van Der Kemp. Aouatif (front) wears jacket, pants, Ronald van der kemp; top, Roberto Cavalli; shoes, Taro Ishida; necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Rawdah Mohamed
When she was six, Rawdah Mohamed visited a tailor in her hometown of Dhobley, Somalia with her mother, who had specific requirements for her Eid dress. It was a formative moment for the little girl who lived in a refugee camp – her family, including nine siblings, moved to Norway soon after.
Rawdah wears dress, headpiece, Del Core; polo neck, Falke; shoes, Taro Ishida; earrings, Bibi Van Der Velden; necklace, Van Gelder Jewellery. Photographed by Julien Vallon
They stayed in an asylum camp for 18 months until they obtained a home and were able to live together. In 2018, as her applications for retail positions got rejected one after the other because of the way she looked, she started posting her outfits on Instagram, swiftly becoming a model at Oslo fashion week. Now, with a degree in behavioral analysis and a background in healthcare, she also works with people of determination, and those on the autism spectrum. She is also mother to six-year-old daughter Sakina. A fervent activist, Mohamed started an online campaign against the hijab law in France, which went viral and was covered by media globally.
Dress, Anna Kiki. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“I want people to understand the individuality of hijabi women and the power that lies in being your authentic self. Hijabi women are fully capable of speaking for themselves and defending their rights to exist,” says Mohamed. “I try to do this by taking space in the places I deserve. I stand up for my rights and try to break barriers so that the next generation will have equal opportunities. The same way women before me paved the way for me, I, too, desire to pave the way for newcomers.” She has worked with Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Balmain, Max Mara, Prada, and Adidas, has been featured in magazine editorials, and is fashion editor at Vogue Scandinavia.
Dress, Anna Kiki; Bodysuit, Falke; headpiece, Marianne Jongkind; jewelry, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“Through education and open dialogue with people in the industry, we can all grow. Understanding that my faith is not the norm and being patient with others while knowing when to walk away from a situation that isn’t ideal for my faith is also important,” considers Mohamed. “The future of fashion for me is one that is equally sustainable and inclusive, where the person with the most talent and interesting perspective is in a place of leadership,” she says. “It’s a future that is braver in terms of questioning the old and why things are done today,” she muses. “The future of fashion will celebrate heritage and innovative ideas and encourage new talents.”
Aouatif Saadi
Aouatif wears jacket, pants, Ronald Van Der Kemp; top, Roberto Cavalli; necklace, Bjorn Van Den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
As a child, Aouatif Saadi always wanted to make her father proud. The patriarch was especially invested in her education and would open an Arabic-to-Spanish dictionary to teach her and her siblings new words for their new home. “Changing countries was exciting, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t speak Spanish and I was the only Moroccan girl in school,” shares the 23-year-old, who moved from Casablanca to Asturias, Spain at age 10.
Dress, shirt, shoes, socks, Dior; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“They immediately made me realize that I was different,” she recalls of her formative years. “I experienced a lot of discrimination, but I didn’t let them bring me down.” At 19, she left for Madrid to become a flight attendant, hungry for new experiences. “I love to travel, and this job would have been perfect,” she shares of her aspirations that were ultimately cut short as she was unable to pay for the school fees. Saadi moved to Paris to improve her French and soon became passionate about modeling, posting her photos on Instagram. After saving studiously, life seemed to finally offer her the dream of travel – but then Covid-19 hit and everything ground to a halt.
Dress, boots, jewelry, Schiaparelli. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“I’m also a woman who never gives up,” she assures, adding that during quarantine she started contacting modeling agencies, kick-starting her career. She was booked by Galeries Lafayette for a campaign shot by David Luraschi in May 2020 on her first day at her agency and has since appeared in editorials for Vogue Russia and campaigns for Sézane and Marni glasses. “Even today, I still can’t believe the twist my life has had,” muses Saadi. “In the end, the path that seemed impossible to me is now the one that is making me live incredible emotions and experiences.” She looks forward to a more inclusive future, where “everyone can feel comfortable in their own features and with their own background.”
Nadia Khaya
Nadia wears dress, headband, earrings, Chanel; Corset, 0770. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“From what my parents tell me, I was like a tomboy, always in the middle of nature, playing and exploring. Let’s say that I was a little wild,” laughs 20-year-old Nadia Khaya, who hails from Lakhzazra in Morocco. When she was five, her family moved to Umbria in northern Italy, where she still lives today, studying economics and culture of food at the University of Perugia.
Dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
“The most difficult part was integrating myself into school,” remembers the model. “I didn’t speak Italian at all; I found it hard to communicate with anyone.” She continues, “I was often excluded by my classmates when they played, or was made fun of for my incorrect pronunciation.” With the passing of years, and help from teachers, her classmates no longer paid attention to these aspects, which were a certain point of detachment between her and other students.
Nadia (left) wears dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Aouatif wears dress, Del Core; jewelry, Bibi Van Der Velden. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Today, she is still asked questions about her country, culture, and religion, but points out that she is happy to engage with others which, in some ways, can make the process of integration lighter. Touting her smile “ready to be shared with anyone” as her standout feature, Khaya joined the modeling industry a year ago after submitting her portfolio to various agencies. She has since worked for Trussardi, Off-White, Ferrari, Max & Co., Napapijri, and has been featured in editorials for Vanity Fair. “Before I started modeling, I did several jobs – waiter, babysitter – as I was always trying to be independent from my parents,” shares Khaya. Now, as part of the fashion world, she values above all its dynamism. “It allows me to experience different things, to meet new people, visit different places, and open my mind to the news. The fashion world has been changing over the years, adapting to the needs of a constantly evolving world,” she remarks.
Rawdah (at back) wears coat, headscarf, Benchellal; shoes, Givenchy; jewelry, Bjorn van den Berg. Nadia (left) wears jacket, suit, Salvatore Ferragamo; headpiece, Chanel; shoes, Louis Vuitton; jewelry, Bjoorn van den Berg. Aouatif (right) wears Suit, Duran Lantink; top, 0770; shoes, Del Core; jewelry, Bjorn van den Berg. Photographed by Julien Vallon
Khaya believes that the future of the industry will be aimed at simplicity, originality, and respect for nature. “With every creation and project there is always the goal of communicating and transmitting a message that can help our society improve and open up to diversity, allowing greater integration in all its forms.”
Read Next: Amina Muaddi Joins Rihanna, Miuccia Prada, and More in List of Powerful Women in Fashion
Originally published in the October 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
Photography and art direction: Julien VallonStyle: Ellen MirckCGI Artist: Muhcine EnnouSenior fashion market editor: Amine JreissatiHair: Ilham MestourMakeup: Naïma BremerNails: Daniel SmedemanMovement director: Floor EimersCreative producer: Laura PriorProduction: Reverse Republic PhotographyAssistant: Florent VindimianDigital assistant: Lorenzo Du VigierStyle assistants: Marina Micuccio, Stephanie Van Bussel, Anneke Loyh, Valentina VerbeekMakeup assistant: Jimmy StamHair assistants: Marc Sew-Atjon, Bert Visser, Sarah SchaapModels: Rawdah at Idol Looks, Aouatif Saadi Jellouli at Select Model Management Paris, Nadia Khaya at Independent Mgmt

Go Inside the Vogue Arabia October 2021 Issue for Fashion’s New Frontiers

Go Inside the Vogue Arabia October 2021 Issue for Fashion’s New Frontiers

Rawdah Mohamed and Nadia Khaya photographed by Julien Vallon for Vogue Arabia October 2021
A future void of colorism, nepotism, and sexism. A future where each individual can proudly own her truth, her history, her authentic self. The Vogue Arabia October 2021 issue points to a new world, a community of individuals who are like-minded in their quest for excellence and non-conformism. On the cover, the leaders of the new guard are model and activist Rawdah Mohamed, Nadia Khaya, and Aouatif Saadi.
Lensed by Julien Vallon, they share their individual journeys of immigration and finding home within. “I want people to understand the individuality of hijabi women and the power that lies in being your authentic self. Hijabi women are fully capable of speaking for themselves and defending their rights to exist,” states Mohamed. “I try to do this by taking space in the places I deserve. I stand up for my rights and try to break barriers so that the next generation will have equal opportunities. The same way women before me paved the way for me, I too, desire to pave the way for newcomers.”
As Expo 2020 Dubai launches this month, Vogue Arabia reflects on the region’s remarkable achievements and honors the women of the past who helped forecast the world of tomorrow, the issue offers tributes to Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, Egyptian feminist and writer Nawal El Saadawi, and Fatima Al-Fihri, Tunisian founder of the Al-Qarawiyyin mosque—women who broke barriers and whose achievements shaped the world of today.
From left: Fatima Al-Fihri, Zaha Hadid, Assia Dagher, and Sameera Moussa. Illustrated by Nourie Flayhan
Looking to those who link the present and future, Vogue Arabia explores how creativity is passed down through families. Georges and Jad Hobeika; Georges and Jennifer Chakra; Stefan, Sylveli, Christian, and Yasmine Hemmerle—couturiers and high jewelry designers sharing the passion and expertise in craft from one generation to the next.
Georges and Jad Hobeika. Photographed by Patrick Sawaya
Continuing our highlight on exceptional and unique talent, the feature The Vanguards highlights artists like Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays, Saudi street artist Noura Bin Saidan, and Dubai-based couturier Andrea Brocca who are pushing boundaries and attracting the attention of the likes of Dior and Lady Gaga along the way.
Noura Bin Saidan. Photo: Courtesy of NEOM
Stepping inside the magnificent salons of the Valentino Paris headquarters, editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut sits down with Pierpaolo Piccioli, and debates whether fashion is art, both men taking opposing views of the subject. In an exclusive preview of the couture collection, ahead of its reveal in Venice, the two men reflect on his painterly eye for color with Piccioli remarking that blending hues requires the eye of a master.
Valentino couture. Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
In beauty, the latest techniques are explored, particularly biomes; the art of using the skin’s living bacteria to rejuvenate the face. Meanwhile, the artistry of perfume is examined through the eyes and words of one of the world’s greatest architects Frank Gehry and his first collaboration with fragrance with Louis Vuitton.
Rakeen Saad photographed by Amina Zaher
There remain, of course, many obstacles to women today—and bullying is one of them. Vogue Arabia speaks with Rakeen Saad, Jordanian actor and leading star of the Netflix show Al Rawabi School for Girls, which shines the spotlight on this form of cruelty that knows no borders. “As Arab woman, walking on the streets and being picked on by men is a form of bullying,” she states. Pointing that empathy is the way forward, she continues, “I feel sorry for those who bully. I believe that they are suffering themselves and they mirror their feelings onto others.” Here is to the future world, one which elevates kindness and creativity—both have no limit and are right at home in these pages.
Read Next: These Regional Designers Have Joined Forces to Dress Women of All Sizes

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com