Arabs in Paris showroom to highlight Mideast talent at fashion week

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Updated 27 September 2020

Arabs in Paris showroom to highlight Mideast talent at fashion week

DUBAI: Paris Fashion Week is set to look a lot different this season. Kicking off on Sept. 28, only a handful of designers are staging physical shows while the rest are opting for digital presentations. Meanwhile, some designers, including Arab couturier Zuhair Murad, are opting out of showing collections this season entirely.

To ensure that Arab design talent gets the recognition they deserve this Fashion Week, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has teamed up with the Arab Fashion Council to host an exclusive showroom and presentation on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar that shines a light on Middle Eastern designers.



Today the Arab Fashion Council (AFC) has announced a new exciting project which aims to connect the Arab talents with the French fashion industry. The new initiative, titled “Arabs in Paris”, is a collaboration between the Arab Fashion Council (AFC) and the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) @fhcm aiming to enable the Arab designers to showcase their creativity officially in Paris Fashion Week’s calendar for spring/summer 2021. @parisfashionweek #ArabsInParis Aujourd'hui, l'Arab Fashion Council (AFC) a annoncé un nouveau projet passionnant qui vise à connecter les talents arabes à l'industrie française de la mode. La nouvelle initiative, intitulée “Arabs in Paris”, est une collaboration entre le Conseil arabe de la mode (AFC) et la Fédération de la haute couture et de la mode (FHCM) visant à permettre aux créateurs arabes de montrer officiellement leur créativité dans le calendrier de la mode de Paris pour la semaine. printemps / été 2021.

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The goal of the initiative, titled “Arabs in Paris,” is to not only spotlight the fashion talent from the region on a global scale, but to also connect designers with international media and buyers.

Participating designers include Lebanese design duo Azzi & Osta, Beirut-based footwear brand Pose Design, Esmod graduate Aboud Jammal, Lebanese womenswear label Ecaille, New York- based handmade jewelry brand Saad Collection, Jordanian ready-to-wear label Mada’En and Emergency Room Beirut, a clothing store based in Lebanon’s capital.



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“The project is in line with the Arab Fashion Council’s vision to build an Arab economy based on creativity and to promote the Arab talents on a global scale,” said Mohammed Aqra, chief strategy officer of The Arab Fashion Council in a statement. “This is the first strategic alliance project with our French counterparts.”

The showroom, which will open its doors from Sept. 30 to Oct. 5, 2020, will highlight the designer’s Spring 2021 collections and will be situated in Paris’s Rue Saint-Honore, adjacent to luxury shops like Dior, Fendi, Celine and more.

“Arabs in Paris” follows in the footsteps of other initiatives launched recently aimed to provide a global platform for regional talents.

In August, a virtual pop-up supporting 16 established and emerging designers from the Middle East and North Africa titled “Eastwave” launched online and featured a curated selection of brands spanning from ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry, such as Egyptian accessories label Alliel, Dubai-based womenswear label Mrs Keepa and Lebanese womenswear brand Jessica K.

A Jordanian holistic snacks range sweetens a healthy lifestyle

Updated 12 min 56 sec ago

A Jordanian holistic snacks range sweetens a healthy lifestyle

  • Karma Bdeir’s snacks company sprang from her desire to satisfy her own sweet tooth in a healthier way
  • The MedShed provides holistic alternatives in a region where obesity and diabetes have become prevalent

AMMAN: When discussing healthy eating patterns and holistic wellbeing, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is not the first region that comes to mind. Now young Arab entrepreneurs are starting to change that. Karma Bdeir, a Jordanian-Syrian who grew up in Saudi Arabia, is one of them.

Bdeir launched The MedShed five years ago with the aim of reintroducing healthy eating to the region under the theme “mind, body and soul.”

“There has been some major development over the past three years in the MENA region in consumer habits and there is still room to grow,” said Bdeir. “It’s so refreshing to see so many new healthy brands arising in the region and more awareness around healthier alternatives.”

Based in Amman, Bdeir’s healthy snacks company sprang from her own desire to satisfy her sweet tooth in a healthier way, at a time when there were few healthy options available.

Initially it started off as a hobby while she worked in interior architecture. Shortly after, she created a food and health blog, and received a certification in Holistic Nutrition from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York.

“I have always loved health and nutrition, and found myself immersed in learning about the holistic wellness industry,” she said. “The MedShed was born out of my own relationship with food and body because I had a lot of misconceptions — I focused way too much on being too strict with eating healthy and being perfect about it.”

One of her courses highlighted the differences between primary and secondary food, and what she calls a “game changer” for her. “Secondary food is the food that you eat that pertains to you as an individual and to your lifestyle,” she said. “Whereas primary food has nothing to do with food — it’s about relationships, productivity, physical activity and spirituality. When I started looking at it through that lens, I saw the missing link. Health goes way beyond food.”

She started focusing more on internal healing, feeding herself through primary food and balancing the scales.

Based in Amman, Bdeir’s healthy snacks company sprang from her own desire to satisfy her sweet tooth in a healthier way, at a time when there were few healthy options available. (Supplied)

“My mother inspired me to look at things through a holistic lens.” Bdeir said. “Pills are not the answer. You need to heal from within, find out what is unbalanced in yourself and let the symptoms be your guide. It’s all about healing yourself from the inside out.”

When she launched her snack line from home in May 2015, she was the first to successfully introduce healthy sweets and snacks to Jordan. And when Amman opened its first juice shop, Seed, at around the same time, she was able to start selling her products, which also began appearing at local shops and gyms, before moving into supermarkets. “I was simultaneously doing health coaching and testing out my product range,” Bdeir said. “It took two years to develop the recipe for my cookies. I did a lot of trial and error, market research and feedback.”

After refining her products, she went on to launch her bakery line, followed by ice cream last year. Now she plans to expand into the Gulf, starting with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. “The pandemic delayed my plans to launch, but I’m pushing it to May 2021 for Dubai and 2022 for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region,” she said. “I think the brand has the opportunity to flourish in the Gulf, because I’ve done pop-ups in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the response was great.”

She describes her products as the perfect healthy yet indulgent snacks — made from dates, nuts, coconuts and oats, as well as date molasses, almond flour and coconut sugar, the snacks contain a good balance of healthy fats, fiber and protein, which provide long-term sustained energy release.

“I want to help promote the idea that if you have a sweet tooth, it’s a pleasure and it’s okay,” Bdeir said. “It’s in our culture to eat dates as well, so it’s local goodness. I’ve always loved an almond-stuffed date and I wanted to create something more exciting from the same ingredients.”

Now Bdeir is increasing her range from 16 to 20 snack products in two different serving sizes, adding to her 15 baked goods, which include cakes, donuts and ice cream sandwiches. She hopes this will provide another stepping stone to change in a region where obesity and diabetes have become prevalent.

“You still have people going on unhealthy diets,” she said. “I’m really against the diet culture and pre-calculated meal plans. It can be a starting point for newbies, but you have to reach that place of intuitive eating, where it’s 80 percent healthy and 20 percent indulgence. After that, you just live your life.”


This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.