Saudi designer points the way for women drivers

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A stylish way to mark a historic moment.
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Updated 11 May 2018

Saudi designer points the way for women drivers

  • Mohammed Khoja has designed a black bomber jacket with the insignia “June 24, 2018, 10 Shawwal 1439” — the long-awaited date when women in the Kingdom will be allowed to drive.
  • The jacket could be worn by both men and women who wanted to celebrate the Kingdom’s social progress.

RIYADH: As the day nears when Saudi women take to the roads for the first time, a Riyadh fashion designer has come up with a stylish way of marking the historic moment.

Mohammed Khoja has designed a black bomber jacket with the insignia “June 24, 2018, 10 Shawwal 1439” — the long-awaited date when women in the Kingdom will be allowed to drive.

The founder of the luxury Hindamme label is determined to draw attention to the breakthrough for women by wearing his own creation.

“I get stopped all the time by people complimenting me on the jacket,” Khoja said.

The designer said he was “super-proud” of the direction Saudi society was taking with this “progressive push.”

Khoja said: “I was moved by the decision to lift the ban on women driving, because it seemed like something that would never happen. It is a symbolic gesture. The ban has always been held against us as Saudis.”

Khoja said he hoped his jacket would help fashion-conscious Saudis mark the event.

“Every country has historic days when things happen that shift the course of the future — and this is one of those dates. That was the inspiration. I thought, how can I, as a designer, pay tribute to this?

“I call it a driving jacket to commemorate the date.” 

Khoja said the jacket could be worn by both men and women who wanted to celebrate the Kingdom’s social progress.

“This decision is not only important to Saudi women and men, but also a step forward in our global quest to achieve more equality, balance and peace,” he said.


Meet Aya Barqawi, the Saudi-born social media star

Updated 18 August 2019

Meet Aya Barqawi, the Saudi-born social media star

  • Barqawi promotes what she calls ‘high-street fashion’
  • Barqawi’s Instagram posts are designed with digital frames to add a unique touch to her content

DUBAI: Between the luxurious fashion statements and international runways, Palestinian-Jordanian Aya Barqawi continues to inspire her followers with thousands of on-budget styles.

“I always try to make people feel inclusive. I want to end this intimidation that comes with fashion,” the Saudi-born blogger told Arab News.

Barqawi promotes what she calls “high-street fashion” and finds the challenge of adapting to international trends “fun.”

“I am looking for new ways to make trends work for me,” she said. “You just need a little bit of creativity and imagination.”

Like many women her age with similar passions, the 24-year-old was unable to study fashion in college because of a lack of opportunity in the Middle East. Now, as a design graduate, she incorporates her field of study with a social media career.

Barqawi’s Instagram posts are designed with digital frames to add a unique touch to her content. “Studying design helped me shape my visual identity on Instagram because I do a lot of graphic work on my photos. It makes it easier for me to create digital content,” she said.

The stylist also worked as a fashion photographer for a brand in Berlin. “I never thought they would pick me over people who are actually from Berlin, who were actually German,” she said. “But my work spoke for itself.”

Barqawi is always looking to motivate other women. “No matter what the field of work you are in, never underestimate yourself. Never second-guess yourself and never compromise your standards for anyone or anything,” she said.

The fashion blogger has also worked in media as a TV producer and segment producer. “I have done digital, I have done TV, so now I am just open to anything that comes my way,” she said.