Saudi Arabian woman designs abayas for freer lifestyles

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Eman Joharjy, a fashion designer sits during an interview with Reuters journalists at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
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Eman Joharjy, a fashion designer smiles as she shows one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
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Eman Joharjy (L), a fashion designer smiles while standing with her employee as she tries on one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2018. Picture taken June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
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Eman Joharjy, (R) a fashion designer and her employee (L) pose in creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
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Eman Joharjy (L), a fashion designer cycles with her friends as they wear her creations along Jeddah's Corniche, Saudi Arabia June 24, 2018. (Reuters)
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Eman Joharjy (L), a fashion designer smiles while standing with her employee as she tries on one of her creations at her shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 30 June 2018
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Saudi Arabian woman designs abayas for freer lifestyles

  • Colorful, embroidered jumpsuit abayas by fashion designer Eman Joharjy definitely standout
  • The designs are for different activities like the driving abaya, which features a hoodie, tight elbows to prevent the sleeves from catching on the steering wheel

JEDDAH: When Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving ended on Sunday, fashion designer Eman Joharjy and her friends drove to Jeddah’s seafront where they exchanged their car for bicycles.
The colorful, embroidered jumpsuit abayas they donned stood out among the sea of women wearing similar loose-fitting full-length robes but in the traditional black. Yet no one stopped them.
Women in Saudi Arabia are rapidly gaining more freedoms under a reform agenda spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to transform the Kingdom's economy.
The government recently allowed women to join the security forces and no longer requires them to have a male relative’s consent to open a business. And while now they can drive, they still need permission to get married and travel abroad.
Mohammed bijn Salman laid the ground two years ago for many social changes, including the return of cinemas and public concerts, by curbing the powers of the religious police.
These days at sunset, as the Arabian heat eases, women do sports along the promenade.
“Women feel encouraged by the government support. They are telling them, ‘You can go run and play sports’,” said Joharjy. “But let’s change from a sedentary society to a more active one.”
In 2007, frustrated by a lack of abayas made for running or cycling, Joharjy designed one for herself. She began making them for friends and selling what she dubbed the “sporty abaya.”
Colorful racks display designs for different activities like the driving abaya, which features a hoodie, tight elbows to prevent the sleeves from catching on the steering wheel, and shorter lengths to make switching pedals easier.
Most importantly for Joharjy, there is no trace of black.
“They reflect freedom and the willingness to embrace life and make it easy for the modern woman,” she said. “Besides, women love color.”
She is optimistic that Saudi Arabia’s social rules will ease further. But she still believes that many women will continue to wear the abaya in one form or another.
For her, the robe is like the Indian sari, a symbol of cultural heritage rather than religion.


Major hotels in China inspected after room cleaning expose

Updated 16 November 2018
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Major hotels in China inspected after room cleaning expose

BEIJING: The Chinese tourism ministry has asked authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and three provinces to investigate room cleaning at 14 major hotels after hidden camera video showed workers using used towels to clean cups and glasses and other questionable practices.
Several of the hotels including a Shangri-La, Sheraton and Waldorf Astoria have apologized since an activist blogger posted the video online earlier this week. In several clips, workers in bathrooms wipe down sinks, coffee cups and glasses with the same used towel.
The Peninsula hotel in Beijing said Friday that city inspectors had tested its cups and found they were cleaner than standards required. The Park Hyatt in Beijing called what happened an isolated occurrence.