Arab Fashion Week commences for the first time in Saudi Arabia

Foreign and Saudi women attend the opening ceremony of Arab Fashion Week

Arab Fashion Week commences for the first time in Saudi Arabia

Fashion event started with a few other restrictions like only women were permitted at events and photographers from outside were not allowed.

Models and designers were pleasantly surprised with the break in conservative practices of the kingdom.

Models strutted down the catwalk; but the show was not without restrictions.

From dark-haired Saudi women to blonde eastern European women were seen at this gala event.

"We are so excited today to be announcing a history and new era for the kingdom, and for the entire Arab world, which is Arab Fashion Week", Jacob Abrian, the week's CEO, told The National. She had said before the event that she is expecting close to 1,500 people to attend the fashion week.

This is just one of a number of progressive moves made by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the kingdom's de-facto leader, who is hoping to improve the country's global image and attract foreign investors. The fashion show is an extended part of the crown prince's "Vision 2030", an attempt to bring the Saudi community on par with the rest of the world.

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Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud, honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council in Riyadh, joined designers, influencers, and industry insiders from Ukraine to Lebanon for the inaugural season of fashion week at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, the hotel now infamous as the holding place of hundreds of royals and businessmen arrested in a state-sponsored corruption crackdown.

Layla Issa Abouzeid, Saudi Arabia country director for the Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council (AFC) is the organiser of the event. From introducing public concerts to lifting a ban on cinema and women driving, he is trying to reform the conservative kingdom. It is not something that was previously off the table or out of the picture.

Also, Arab Fashion Council is planning to cite Saudi Arabia as a hub for an emerging fashion trend. Fashion's big names from across the region have taken over the Saudi capital's Ritz Carlton hotel.

"I was always asking myself, why do us Arabs have to travel overseas to find our future?"

A second edition of Saudi Arab Fashion Week is already scheduled for October.

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