Miss England contestant in hijab first

Sara Iftekhar is set to become the first entrant to wear a hijab in a Miss England final. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 September 2018

Miss England contestant in hijab first

  • Sara Iftekhar, a law student, is among 50 competitors for the Miss England crown and hopes to become the first Muslim winner
  • Iftekhar is a make-up artist and often shares pictures of herself wearing traditional Pakistani dress on social media

LONDON: A Miss England contestant is set to wear a hijab in the finals on Tuesday, in a first for the organization.
Sara Iftekhar, a law student, is among 50 competitors for the Miss England crown and hopes to become the first Muslim winner.
“It just proves Miss England represents the way England is today,” competition spokeswoman Angie Beasley was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper.
Iftekhar, 20, has already won the Miss Huddersfield title, representing the northern English market town.
She is a make-up artist and often shares pictures of herself wearing traditional Pakistani dress on social media.

 


The student started a clothing business aged 16.
“I may be the first woman to wear a hijab. However, I am just a regular girl and we all have a fair opportunity in this contest,” the BBC quoted her as saying.
“If I want to cover myself up and dress modestly why should that be an issue? I am just like the other contestants.”
The first stage of the competition was held in July, including the sports beach beauty, top model, beautiful mind and publicity rounds.
“Here is a vibrant, confident young woman who is proving, on a huge platform, that beauty comes in many forms, that Muslim women in hijabs can be beautiful, and that we can own our beauty,” wrote Iqra Choudhry in The Independent online newspaper.
“The fact that she’s reached the Miss England finals is something that should be celebrated by the Muslim community, and by women at large.”
Tuesday’s events in the second stage at Kelham Hall in Nottinghamshire, central England, will round up the ethical fashion show, talent and evening wear catwalk sections of the contest.
Public voting by text message closed at midday (1100 GMT) on Tuesday.
The 2018 Miss World finals are being held in Sanya, China, in November and December.
Miss World started in 1951.


E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

Updated 08 July 2020

E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

DUBAI: Almost four months ago, as Dubai authorities announced sweeping precautionary measures to combat a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the UAE, a 29-year-old entrepreneur did the unthinkable – and launched an e-boutique.

Rita Bennani’s business venture, Beldi Bazaar, is a platform that celebrates the universally admired artistic craftsmanship of her native Morocco.

“My friends and family told me not to launch, saying that this was not the time to do so. But then I thought that it didn’t matter because I needed to start and see how it went. It was the best decision I made because there was a huge movement to support small businesses during the pandemic,” she told Arab News.

The platform has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items. Supplied

Bennani, who has a background in event planning, moved to the UAE in 2017, and recalled how former colleagues often asked her to bring back keepsakes from Morocco, triggering the idea for her startup.

“I found that in the UAE, it’s not really common to find Moroccan products, except carpets. And for me, Morocco is so much more than just the carpets,” she said.

Bringing a touch of Morocco to Dubai, Beldi (meaning “traditional” in Moroccan Arabic) Bazaar has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items – including delicate coffee cups and bowls, luxury tagines and orange blossom candles, and hand-stitched textiles designed by the north African country’s traditional artisans.

Shoppers can find everything from hand-stitched blankets to luxury tagines. Supplied

“I have a strong relationship with a group of women who come from remote villages in the Atlas Mountains. Every single hand-woven blanket and cushion that we have in Beldi Bazaar was made by them. Through Beldi Bazaar, I really wanted to empower women,” she added.

Bennani, who was raised in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, prioritized promoting modern brands that “showcased Moroccan savoir faire.”

Portrait of Rita Bennani. Supplied

Through every hand-picked item available on the platform, Bennani aims to embody the pillars of Moroccan visual and social culture, from presenting diverse color palettes of blues and browns to expressing a sense of warm hospitality to all online visitors.

“What makes Moroccan products – such as ceramics, wood, or zelij – really special is the use of techniques that have been passed on from one generation to the next,” she said.