The royal couple: A closer look at Rajwa Al-Saif and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II

The royal couple: A closer look at Rajwa Al-Saif and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II
Rajwa Al-Saif and Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah are getting married on June 1. (Instagram)
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Updated 31 May 2023

The royal couple: A closer look at Rajwa Al-Saif and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II

The royal couple: A closer look at Rajwa Al-Saif and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II

DUBAI: As people across Jordan, and the wider Arab world, prepare to celebrate the wedding of Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah and Rajwa Al-Saif from Saudi Arabia, Arab News take a closer look at the royal power couple. 

While Al-Saif largely lived outside the public eye until the couple’s engagement was announced last year, Hussein has been in the spotlight since the moment he was born in Amman on June 28, 1994. He was appointed crown prince by royal decree on July 2, 2009. 

The crown prince has three siblings: Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem. (Supplied)

The 28-year-old prince, the eldest son of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, has three siblings: Princess Iman, 26, who tied the knot with financier Jameel Alexander Thermiotis on March 12, Princess Salma, 22, and Prince Hashem, 18. 

The crown prince was named after his grandfather, King Hussein bin Talal, who became king in 1952 at the age of 17 and ruled Jordan for almost five decades until his death in 1999. Hussein’s paternal grandmother is Princess Muna Al-Hussein, a British convert to Islam, and his mother is of Palestinian descent. 

He complete his high school studies in 2012 at King’s Academy in Jordan. In 2016, he graduated with a degree in international history from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. 

He is a qualified helicopter pilot. (Supplied)

Like many male members of the Jordanian royal family, including his father and grandfather, the prince attended Britain’s prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, graduating in 2017. 

He often accompanies King Abdullah during official visits in Jordan and has also embarked on several official trips abroad. Most recently, he accompanied the king and queen on a visit to Japan in April. 

“The King has been preparing the prince for years,” Samih Al-Maaytah, Jordan’s former minister of information, told Arab News. 

He holds the rank of captain in the Jordanian Armed Forces. (Instagram)

“The prince attends all the important meetings of his majesty the king with world leaders in the United Nations, Europe and at international and Arab conferences. So he is being trained directly by the king.”  

In April 2015, at the age of 20, Crown Prince Hussein became the youngest person to chair a session of the UN Security Council when he presided over an open debate on the role of youth in efforts to counter violent extremism and promote peace. As a result, in August 2015, Jordan hosted the first Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security, which produced the Amman Youth Declaration on those issues. 

The prince made his debut in front of the UN General Assembly in 2017, when he delivered a speech criticizing the focus on militarization in the Middle East. 

The crown prince with his parents. (Supplied)

He holds the rank of captain in the Jordanian Armed Forces and is often an observer at military drills in the country. He is a qualified helicopter pilot; after his first solo flight in 2018, he was doused with a bucket of water in a traditional military celebration of such occasions. 

Al-Maaytah described the prince’s relationship with the Jordanian public as “active, dynamic and close to the youth.” Hussein oversees the Crown Prince Foundation, which promotes education with a focus on technical training and initiatives to benefit young people in Jordan. 

The prince also founded the Masar Initiative to encourage youths to take an interest and pursue careers in the field of space technology, and the “Hearing without Borders” project, which provides cochlear implants for deaf children. 

“He always visits gatherings with the youth from different sectors, so he is a role model to the youth who have awareness, who are dynamic and passionate,” Al-Maaytah said. 

In the rare moments the prince has to himself to pursue his own interests, he likes to share his activities and hobbies with his 3.9 million followers on Instagram. He appears to like to stay active and particularly enjoys basketball, football, hiking, cooking and playing the guitar. 

The crown prince and Al-Saif announced their engagement in August last year during a ceremony in Riyadh, in the presence of King Abdullah, Queen Rania and Al-Saif’s family. The royal family of Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty will welcome its newest member on June 1, when the couple are due to wed at Zahran Palace in Amman, but what do we know about the future queen? 

Born on April 28, 1994, Al-Saif is the daughter of Saudi businessman Khalid bin Musaed bin Saif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saif and his wife, Azza bint Nayef Abdulaziz Ahmad Al-Sudairi. The youngest of four children, her older siblings are called Faisal, Nayef and Dana. 

The Al-Saif family traces its lineage to the Subay tribe, who have been present in the Sudair region of Najd since the beginning of the era of King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern-day Saudi Arabia. 

Al-Saif’s mother comes from the prominent Al-Sudairi family. Incidentally, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is one of the so-called “Sudairi Seven,” an influential alliance of seven full brothers born to King Abdulaziz and Hussa bint Ahmed Al-Sudairi. 

After graduating from high school in Saudi Arabia, Al-Saif studied at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture in New York state. She also holds an Associate of Arts Professional Designation in visual communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. 

After a spell working at an architecture firm in Los Angeles, she returned to her native Saudi Arabia to work at the Designlab Experience design studio in Riyadh. 

Since their engagement, Al-Saif and the crown prince have made numerous public appearances together, including a visit in January to the “Fragrance of Colors” initiative in Amman, which aims to teach the blind and visually impaired to draw by identifying colors through their sense of smell. They were briefed by Suheil Baqaeen, the founder of the initiative, on the creative work of students during a workshop at Darat Suheil, a gallery and art space in Jabal Luweibdeh in Amman. 

“It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. Believe you me, she is so simple, elegant, nice and humble,” Baqaeen told Arab News when asked about his encounter with Al-Saif. “And they both were so, so sweet. 

“They showed so much sensitivity when talking to the children. When the crown prince and Ms. Rajwa came to our simple Darat Suheil, they gave their positive energy to the children by spending time with them and talking to them. 

“It felt like a healing energy … there was no obstacle in the conversation. There was so much freedom to talk. She also asked the children about their dreams.” 

Baqaeen said Al-Saif spent time painting alongside the children. 

“She showed a lot of skill with the watercolor painting, since she is an architect and has a design background,” he added. 

The Royal Hashemite Court has yet to reveal full details of Al-Saif’s future role as a working member of the Jordanian royal family after the wedding, though it is thought likely she will follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps as a philanthropic force to be reckoned with, first as crown princess and then as queen. 


Founder of Saudi luxury jewelry, watches platform CLÉ talks brick-and-mortar opening

Founder of Saudi luxury jewelry, watches platform CLÉ talks brick-and-mortar opening
Updated 27 September 2023

Founder of Saudi luxury jewelry, watches platform CLÉ talks brick-and-mortar opening

Founder of Saudi luxury jewelry, watches platform CLÉ talks brick-and-mortar opening

DUBAI: Saudi entrepreneur Yasmine Alshathry is opening the first brick-and-mortar store for her e-commerce platform CLÉ – dedicated to fine jewelry and watches – in VIA Riyadh on Oct. 7.  

Alshathry, who launched her platform in 2013, took a trip down memory lane with Arab News, looking back at how she started CLÉ and what she is doing to grow the brand.  

“The journey began long before 2013, back when I was in middle school where frankly I was fortunate to be surrounded by people of taste and culture who wore beautiful mechanical watches,” she recalled.  


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“Of course, at the time I had zero knowledge or clue what watches were about, but I enjoyed the aesthetics and design and that was the initial hook,” she said.   

Alshathry then started having conversations with her father about the pieces he owned. “As any 14-year-old, when you share a common interest with your role model – your parents – nothing can beat that feeling,” she said. 

When she moved to London in 2011, she started to immerse herself in the industry by visiting modern and vintage boutiques. “It was in 2013, when I wanted to truly mimic the feeling I received from everyone I met in these stores to GCC collectors and equally support them in their endeavors to acquire the pieces they were after.”  


A post shared by CLÉ - كلي (@werecle)

That was when she took the decision to launch CLÉ Concierge, a bespoke service that aimed to bridge the gap between watch collectors and brands. 

In 2019, the founder decided to scale CLÉ Concierge to serve a wider purpose focused on growing and evolving the luxury market from a traditional retail model to an innovative platform built on localization, brand storytelling and a luxury customer service experience. 

Her decision to launch a physical store came after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She noticed an unexpected shift in consumer behavior as people wanted to go back to physical experiences and human interactions, she said. 


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“The Saudi customer has a very peculiar purchase behavior and although he or she is very tech-savvy, there will always be hesitation when it comes to buying jewelry or watches online and they need a sense of reinforcement and we believe the store will provide that feeling,” Alshathry said.  

“Our aim is to deliver a rewarding experience to our clients every time they engage with us and because we offer an exclusive service and product range that very few people appreciate and know about,” she said. “Our aim is to grow this pool of audience and expand it, and to do so, we need to continuously educate the market, build rapport and relationships and to do that we need to be visible, present and accessible to clients.”  

The entrepreneur said that VIA Riyadh’s team reached out to her because “they truly appreciated what CLÉ has to offer.”   


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“VIA Riyadh is a luxurious development with a local essence that embodies everything we believe in at CLÉ, bringing in exclusive retail and hospitality brands means we all service and target a niche audience, centered around offering a high caliber customer experience,” she said. 

The launch event will take place on Oct. 7.  


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“Because we don’t do mainstream at CLÉ definitely expect for the launch event to be daring, different and bold,” the founder said. “All I can say is that there will be a lot of engaging activities and guests won’t be bored.” 

The founder said that she is working on growing a wider presence for CLÉ.  “We are definitely looking to open new stores but with different concepts. I don’t believe that our stores will be the same across Saudi Arabia or the Gulf, we will always add something new and fresh into any concept we bring forward,” she said.  

Designers look back at Saudi 100 Brands showcase in Milan 

Designers look back at Saudi 100 Brands showcase in Milan 
Updated 27 September 2023

Designers look back at Saudi 100 Brands showcase in Milan 

Designers look back at Saudi 100 Brands showcase in Milan 

DUBAI: Forty designers from the Kingdom this week showcased their latest designs in Milan with the Saudi 100 Brands initiative during White Milano, the international apparel and accessories trade show that famously takes place alongside Milan Fashion Week.  

The event, which ran from Sept. 22-25, is part of White Milano’s EXPOWHITE program.  

Among the 40 brands was RBA NEW YORK, founded by Saudi designer Rakhaa Bin Ahmed. In an interview with Arab News, the founder looked back at her experience in Italy and said that she got “great responses” from the international audience. 

“They loved the urbanized twist in my designs, largely due to their reflection of the Saudi heritage and the strong story behind my creations,” she explained. “I was pleased to hear from the audience who came from different backgrounds, saying they would definitely wear my designs for different occasions due to their versatility.” 

Bin Ahmed’s brand is famous for its textured linen sets. She also offers shirts, cardigans and traditional Saudi attire – with a modern twist – for men and women. 

The designer said that the Saudi Fashion Commission’s Saudi 100 Brands’ initiative is helping support the local designers in showcasing their work internationally. “I would call it a talent traveler as it takes us internationally with the highest standards to different countries around the world with great ease,” she said.  

The event also presented designs from Saudi streetwear label Sign Spot, founded by Nada Alotaibi. 

“It’s an exceptional opportunity and occasion for us Saudis to display our culture to the rest of the globe while also showcasing Saudi designers on an international scale,” the designer told Arab News.  

She said visitors in Milan were “impressed” by her collection. “They were also impressed by our concept of Sign Spot, which is how we convey messages through our designs. They were thrilled with our offerings and our focus on the details,” she added.  

Alotaibi, whose brand features shirts, t-shirts, shorts, pants, leggings, socks, caps and cardholders, said the Milan showcase acted as a confidence booster. 

Gareth Edwards returns to big screen with original sci-fi epic ‘The Creator’

Gareth Edwards returns to big screen with original sci-fi epic ‘The Creator’
Updated 27 September 2023

Gareth Edwards returns to big screen with original sci-fi epic ‘The Creator’

Gareth Edwards returns to big screen with original sci-fi epic ‘The Creator’

DUBAI: British filmmaker Gareth Edwards began his career by jumping into the world of visual effects, persuading production houses such as the BBC to let him do their special effects for free in exchange for him directing an episode or two of their shows.

While all that may seem a lifetime ago for the 48-year-old director – having since led blockbuster movies such as “Godzilla” (2014) and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) – the experience helped him chart a unique path in Hollywood filmmaking.

For his latest original sci-fi theatrical, “The Creator” – hitting theaters in the Middle East on Sept. 28 – Edwards and his team traveled more than 10,000 miles to 80 different locations spread throughout Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Japan, Indonesia, the UK (at Pinewood Studios near London), and the US (in Los Angeles).

Rather than designing the film upfront, they took the unconventional approach of shooting scenes first without sets, leaving the production design work until after it wrapped, during postproduction.

Edwards used the so-called reverse engineering method on his first film, “Monsters,” which he found to be a much more efficient process.

He told Arab News: “Being able to shoot organically was much easier knowing there was a powerhouse visual effects company behind the film. Industrial Light and Magic went out on a limb to help the realism of the film, allowing us to film actors without motion capture suits, or have tracking markers on location everywhere.

“But to prove that we could make a large-scale sci-fi film on a small budget with minimal green screen, we went on a location scout and filmed a short film. I put a 1970s cinema lens on a little digital camera. We went to Nepal and Japan and everywhere.

“And then we gave ILM this footage of like monks going into temples in Angkor Wat (Cambodia). And we’re like, ‘okay, make that a robot.’ I didn’t take any tracking markers. I didn’t put any dots on their faces. I didn’t measure anything. And they did it. And they did it in a few days. It went really successfully, and it cost very little,” Edwards said.

In “The Creator,” Joshua (John David Washington), a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan), is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, an elusive architect of advanced artificial intelligence who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war – and mankind itself.

Joshua and his team of elite operatives journey across enemy lines, into the dark heart of AI-occupied territory, only to discover the world-ending weapon he has been instructed to destroy is an AI in the form of a young child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).

Most of the movie is set in the world of New Asia – an amalgamation of Southeast Asian countries. And Edwards gives a nod to Star Wars creator George Lucas for the inspiration behind the setting.

“The thing he got right about science fiction was that it’s not just about the future, it’s also about the past.

“He would take stories and ideas and concepts of spirituality, religion, mythology, stuff from a 1,000 years ago, and combine it with the far future of spaceships and robots. And then it would feel important because it was really about all that spiritual past.

“And I think when you look around the world for places that are like that, for me, Southeast Asia is that combination. You go to the cities in the capitals of these countries, and it feels like something from ‘Blade Runner.’

“But then you look down an alleyway, and you go around the corner, and there’s a temple, and a Buddhist monk, or something. And there’s this really ancient tradition combined with that, that I felt was really exciting,” he added.

For Edwards, who took seven years to return to the big screen after “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “The Creator” is his chance to tell an original story in a way that spoke to his childhood experience of going to the cinema.

He said: “When I was young, every single movie every week, was a brand-new original film. And now this is such a rare thing.

“‘The Creator’ is really a love letter to the movies that I grew up with, you know, the science fiction and fantasy films that I wanted to kind of bring back to the younger audience today,” Edwards added.

Red Sea International Film Festival reveals ‘New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts’ program  

Red Sea International Film Festival reveals ‘New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts’ program  
Updated 27 September 2023

Red Sea International Film Festival reveals ‘New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts’ program  

Red Sea International Film Festival reveals ‘New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts’ program  

DUBAI: Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival has announced the film selection for its “New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts” program.  

The films selected for the “New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts” program are a representation of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming talent, reflecting the “We Dream, We Achieve” motto of the 93rd Saudi National Day.   

The 19 films selected for screening at the Red Sea International Film Festival range from 44 minutes to 5 minutes in length and cover a range of subjects, from confronting extremism to managing social change to overcoming personal struggles. The films are all produced by Saudi teams, with Saudi nationals as the lead creatives, while most films also used the Kingdom as their production or shooting location.   

Mohammed Al-Turki, the CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation, said in a statement, “This program is reflective of our continued commitment to support Saudi filmmaking talent. We want to encourage the dreamers of today to become the filmmakers of tomorrow – the “New Saudi, New Cinema: Shorts” will empower those dreamers.”  

Four films in the selection – “Art Block,” “Salem’s Legs,” “Jameel Alsaeed” and “The Last Thread” –were made during the third edition of the 48 Hour Film Challenge, organized by the Red Sea Film Foundation last month.

Full list of films in the program:

  • “Khaled Al Sheik\h Between Two Fires, Art and Politics,” directed by Jamal Koutaiby
  • “The Last Winter,” directed by Hayder Dawood
  • “Street 105,” directed by Abdulrahman Aljandal
  • “Detour,” directed by Dhafer Alshehry
  • “The Ride,” directed by Hania Bakhushwain
  • “Fishbowl,” directed by Reema Almajed
  • “I’m Fine,” directed by Faisal Alzahrani
  • “Fiasco Run,” directed by Sultan Rabea
  • “Kum-Kum,” directed by Dur Jamjoum
  • “,”directed by Afnan Bawyan
  • “The Menace From Above,” directed by Mariam Khayat
  • “Fishy,” directed by Alabbas Hamidaddin
  • “Antidote,” directed by Hassan Saeed
  • “The Old School,” directed by Abdulla Alkhumais
  • “Art Block,” directed by Abdulrahman Batawie
  • “The Last Thread,” directed by Jwana Alzahrani
  • “Salem’s Legs,” directed by Talal Almusaad
  • “Jameel Alsaeed,” directed by Osama Khalifa
  • “Hadi Aleis,” directed by Abdullah Saharti

Amina Muaddi, Yara Shahidi attend Dior show in Paris  

Amina Muaddi, Yara Shahidi attend Dior show in Paris  
Updated 27 September 2023

Amina Muaddi, Yara Shahidi attend Dior show in Paris  

Amina Muaddi, Yara Shahidi attend Dior show in Paris  

DUBAI: Romanian Jordanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi and part-Middle Eastern actress Yara Shahidi this week attended Dior’s star-studded fashion show – set in the Tuileries gardens – during Paris Fashion Week.  

Muaddi and Shahidi were dressed to impress.  

Muaddi wore a blue yoke-style skirt with a basic white t-shirt and her Dalida Glass PVC platform mules that elevated her look.  

Muaddi wore a blue yoke-style skirt with a basic white t-shirt. (Getty Images)

Shahidi added a pop of color to her look with a bright orange floor-length skirt. She wore a loose white blouse and a gold belt around her waist.  

The two stars sat front row as they watched Italian couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri present the brand’s Spring/Summer 2024 ready-to-wear collection.  

Chiuri crafted an unusually subtle collection in predominantly black and white that fused echoes of the medieval and contemporary, the Associated Press reported.  

Shahidi added a pop of color to her look with a bright orange floor-length skirt. (Getty Images)

Set against an art backdrop challenging time-worn perceptions on women’s roles, this show was not only a reminder that fashion is a mirror of society – but among her most accomplished so far. 

The atmosphere was charged with palpable anticipation. But even more electric was Chiuri’s dance between the medieval and the 80s punk – the former, an era of chivalry and legends, the latter, an age of defiant self-expression. 


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The first looks to grace the runway were what might be called “gamine gothic.” The garments, draped in a play of black with cascading tassels, bore dynamic clumps of silk that crafted a silhouette both historic and undeniably fresh.  

But fashion, much like history, is cyclical, and soon this dark romanticism gave way to stark white interpretations. The result? A nod to the rebellious 80s, evoking memories of punk rockers and their spirited defiance. 


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But Chiuri didn’t stop at mere clothing. The accessories — from contemporary neck chokers to sometimes-bejeweled leg bands that one might associate with armor — added layers of intrigue. 

While the designs borrowed elements from historical eras, they also encapsulated the spirit and journey of the contemporary woman. The ash and chamomile tones, paired with the evocative use of fabrics, served as metaphors for strength, defiance, and progression. 

The show witnessed a dazzling circus of stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Debicki and Kim Jisoo.