Business of Fashion handpicks Mideast powerhouses

US-based organization the Business of Fashion has released its sixth annual index of the people shaping the global fashion industry. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Business of Fashion handpicks Mideast powerhouses

DUBAI: US-based organization the Business of Fashion has released its sixth annual index of the people shaping the global fashion industry — and Saudi powerhouse Marriam Mossalli made the cut alongside three other women from the Middle East and a bevy of men from the region.

Known as the BoF 500, the index is widely regarded as the go-to list of international fashion’s who’s who.

Featured for the first time, alongside 95 other new names on the list, Saudi national Mossalli started her career as a journalist, before founding luxury consultancy agency Niche Arabia in 2011.

According to the Business of Fashion website, “Mossalli’s entrepreneurial company has been praised as a key player in elevating the global status of the Saudi Arabian fashion industry.”

Born in Sri Lanka, Mossalli lived in Korea and Malaysia before attending boarding school in Switzerland and eventually moving to Washington to study at George Washington University. After taking on positions at Arab News, the fashion heavyweight went on to write, curate and edit a series of books, including “Under The Abaya,” which features streetstyle images submitted by Saudi women.

“It’s moments like these that reaffirm one’s career choices and truly humble oneself. This goes to you, Saudi Arabia — my home, our future!” Mossalli wrote on Instagram.

“I’m humbled by the honor to represent the Khaleej as a new addition to the prestigious BoF 500 list! It’s such an honor and a true benchmark in my decade-long career to have this validation from the global fashion community,” she added in a statement to Arab News.

Mossalli joins three other women from the region who have been singled out by the organization, including Egyptian-Sudanese model Anok Yai, fashion editor Jamila Halfichi and Moroccan entrepreneur Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch.

Their achievements were celebrated at a gala dinner on the sidelines of New York Fashion Week on Monday — a celebrity-filled party that was attended by the likes of Somali-American model Halima Aden, model sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Canadian model Winnie Harlow and British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

“For the sixth annual BoF 500, we focused on the change agents building and shaping a better fashion industry,” said Imran Amed, founder and chief executive of Business of Fashion. "There’s no doubt it has been a challenging time for the fashion business, a time for reflection. But, as we discovered in putting this issue together, there are many positive stories to tell and we are very happy to tell them.”


Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

Updated 21 September 2018
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Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

DUBROVNIK, Croatia: Marc van Bloemen has lived in the old town of Dubrovnik, a Croatian citadel widely praised as the jewel of the Adriatic, for decades, since he was a child. He says it used to be a privilege. Now it’s a nightmare.
Crowds of tourists clog the entrances to the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. People bump into each other on the famous limestone-paved Stradun, the pedestrian street lined with medieval churches and palaces, as fans of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” search for the locations where it was filmed.
Dubrovnik is a prime example of the effects of mass tourism, a global phenomenon in which the increase in people traveling means standout sites — particularly small ones — get overwhelmed by crowds. As the numbers of visitors keeps rising, local authorities are looking for ways to keep the throngs from killing off the town’s charm.
“It’s beyond belief, it’s like living in the middle of Disneyland,” says van Bloemen from his house overlooking the bustling Old Harbor in the shadows of the stone city walls.
On a typical day there are about eight cruise ships visiting this town of 2,500 people, each dumping some 2,000 tourists into the streets. He recalls one day when 13 ships anchored here.
“We feel sorry for ourselves, but also for them (the tourists) because they can’t feel the town anymore because they are knocking into other tourists,” he said. “It’s chaos, the whole thing is chaos.”
The problem is hurting Dubrovnik’s reputation. UNESCO warned last year that the city’s world heritage title was at risk because of the surge in tourist numbers.
The popular Discoverer travel blog recently wrote that a visit to the historic town “is a highlight of any Croatian vacation, but the crowds that pack its narrow streets and passageways don’t make for a quality visitor experience.”
It said that the extra attention the city gets from being a filming location for “Game of Thrones” combines with the cruise ship arrivals to create “a problem of epic proportions.”
It advises travelers to visit other quaint old towns nearby: “Instead of trying to be one of the lucky ones who gets a ticket to Dubrovnik’s sites, try the delightful town of Ohrid in nearby Macedonia.”
In 2017, local authorities announced a “Respect the City” plan that limits the number of tourists from cruise ships to a maximum of 4,000 at any one time during the day. The plan still has to be implemented, however.
“We are aware of the crowds,” said Romana Vlasic, the head of the town’s tourist board.
But while on the one hand she pledged to curb the number of visitors, Vlasic noted with some satisfaction that this season in Dubrovnik “is really good with a slight increase in numbers.” The success of the Croatian national soccer team at this summer’s World Cup, where it reached the final, helped bring new tourists new tourists.
Vlasic said that over 800,000 tourists visited Dubrovnik since the start of the year, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. Overnight stays were up 4 percent to 3 million.
The cruise ships pay the city harbor docking fees, but the local businesses get very little money from the visitors, who have all-inclusive packages on board the ship and spend very little on local restaurants or shops.
Krunoslav Djuricic, who plays his electric guitar at Pile, one of the two main entrances of Dubrovnik’s walled city, sees the crowds pass by him all day and believes that “mass tourism might not be what we really need.”
The tourists disembarking from the cruise ships have only a few hours to visit the city, meaning they often rush around to see the sites and take selfies to post to social media.
“We have crowds of people who are simply running,” Djuricic says. “Where are these people running to?“