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.


Lebanese star Myriam Fares faces blackface backlash

Updated 15 December 2018
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Lebanese star Myriam Fares faces blackface backlash

DUBAI: Lebanese singer Myriam Fares has come under fire on social media after a scene in her latest music video appears to show the star in blackface.
Fares released the video for her new track, “Goumi” (Get up), on Wednesday and the jungle-themed video sees the pop star performing in African-themed costumes. In one scene, she is painted a significantly darker shade and is seen wearing a neck ring.

A still from the video. (YouTube)


“Are we not going to talk about @myriamfares blackface in her new video? And all that cultural appropriation is (going to) slide?” one user commented on Twitter, while another tweeted: “Myriam Fares is the perfect example (of) Arab ignorance. Is it really difficult educating yourself on what is right and wrong? Blackface? In 2018? What is more disgusting is the fact that the comments are all praising the video and no one sees her actions as wrong.”
Some users, however, see no issue with the video, with one Twitter user praising it for presenting a “wonderful mixture between Arabic culture and African culture.”