JEDDAH: The style, the looks and the pose would grace a fashion magazine anywhere in the world. Faisal Falattah, 32, is proud to be a black Saudi model, fashion designer and stylist paving the way for others to come.
Raised by a single mother from the age of two, Falattah is conscious of the fact that he was all she had, which increased his aspirations and his desire to make her proud.
Falattah admits modeling doesn’t pay well; in fact, at first he had to pay photographers to shoot him, but gradually people began to find out about him, and asked him to do photo shoots and collaborations.
Falattah is known for his stylish outfits and color coordination. In 2008, he was watching a fashion show on TV, and instinctively knew how some of the outfits could be altered and worn better. “That’s when I realized I wanted to be a fashion designer. I wanted to help people of all skin tones and shapes figure out what to wear. I wanted that to be my career and my life,” he told Arab News.
“I enjoy taking care of all aspects of a photo shoot, making sure the photographer is comfortable and knows how to showcase the image I’m portraying, one who can make the colors and fabric pop, and can shoot my skin tone. I always make sure I’m involved in all these details.
“There’s a misconception about photography; it’s not a one-man show. Photographers must be good at guiding models, but a model’s body language and expertise are also as important.”
Falattah has worked with distinguished photographers, including Cameron Mackey in Los Angeles. They shared a chemistry, and she told Falattah he was born to model. He also worked with rising Saudi photographer Talal Afandi, who shares a close bond with him and encouraged him to pursue modeling as a career.
When not modeling, Falattah works as a housing supervisor at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, while studying for a degree in Business Administration at King Abdulaziz University.
Falattah dealt with discrimination while growing up in Jeddah. “I did face some comments when I was at school, but I learned to filter them out, as well as jabs at my masculinity. I grew more confident and changed the way I carried myself as I met more people and got out of my shell.
“Beauty standards are changing universally, and I want us to embrace that change, and by going after what I love, I’m hoping to inspire people to make careers out of their passions.”
Saudis have embraced fashion, he said. “The fashion scene in Riyadh is unbelievable, and now is the time for the universe to discover the raw gems in the Kingdom. We can do what everyone’s doing, and just because we got a late start doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to offer.”
The singer and entertainer Hanan Younis, 40, is better known by the stage name Waed.
She comes from a family of entertainers; her brothers and sisters are actors, directors, and TV and radio hosts.
Her father, Baker Younis, co-founded a broadcasting and television station in Saudi Arabia, exposing her to the entertainment industry from a young age; Waed first sang on TV when she was 7. She took part in a number of televised musical shows while still at school. Waed released her first album in 2001 and remains hugely popular in the Arab world.
The 58-year-old former imam of Makkah’s holy mosque and a famous Qur’an reciter, Al-Kalbani was the first black man to hold the position. Born in Riyadh, he worked for Saudi Airlines for six years. He was taught by many Islamic scholars and was an imam in a number of mosques in Riyadh, most famously in King Khalid’s mosque. Al-Kalbani issued a fatwa on social media rejecting the prohibition on music and singing, and was criticized by other scholars. He has been the imam at Al-Mohaisen mosque in Riyadh for the past nine years.
Former striker with Al-Nassr and the Saudi national team, now aged 59. Nicknamed the Arabian Jewel and Desert Pelé, he was Asian Footballer of the Year for three consecutive years: 1984, 1985, 1986. Played for Al-Nassr for more than 20 years and scored 320 goals. He retired from playing at 40, and became manager. In 2008, more than 70,000 fans turned out for his testimonial match at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, when Al-Nassr beat Real Madrid 4-1. Created a Twitter account in 2014 and attracted over 214,000 followers in two hours.