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Saudi Arabia Launches Its First Arab Fashion Week

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Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli who are currently in Saudi Arabia are doing everything possible to make Kingdom’s first ever Arab Fashion Week a grand success. The event took off on Tuesday amidst excitement and controversy.

The Saudi edition of Arab Fashion comprises designers from Europe and the Arab world, including the kingdom’s own Arwa Banawi and Mashael Alrajhi.

Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council in Riyadh, joined designers, influencers, and industry insiders from Ukraine to Lebanon for the inaugural season of fashion week at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, the hotel now infamous as the holding place of hundreds of royals and businessmen arrested in a state-sponsored corruption crackdown.

“Fashion has always an interest of Saudi Arabia,” Princess Noura said at the event.

“It has not been something that wasn’t on the table or in the picture,” she added. “Our fashion council is trying to bring the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia to a whole new level, a whole new industry.”

Listed as an international fashion week alongside Paris and Milan, Arab Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections. Until this week, it had been hosted exclusively by Gulf fashion capital Dubai.

However, the show doesn’t allow cameras, and the entry is strictly restricted to women. The ultraconservative kingdom has witnessed rapid policy change since the June appointment of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, son of the king and heir to his throne.

The women will also be allowed to drive in the Kingdom from June. The crown prince has also hinted that the abaya, the long loose robe worn by women from the neck down, may not be compulsory.

“We are so excited today to be announcing a history and new era for the kingdom, and for the entire Arab world, which is Arab Fashion Week,” said Jacob Abrian, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council.

The second edition of Saudi Arab Fashion is scheduled in October.