Dubai is unnatural yet perfect fashion capital

The cover of the inaugural issue has half Palestinian, half Dutch model Gigi Hadid wearing a veil with a cutout.

By Sujata Assomull (The Fashionista)

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Published: Sat 18 Mar 2017, 6:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 18 Mar 2017, 8:48 PM

The fashion industry was buzzing last week with the launch of Vogue Arabia. It was long overdue, considering the region's high affinity with fashion. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait, after all, are among the top spenders on fashion, as per a 2015 report by Network Provider, a payment solutions provider.
Qatar now spends more on fashion than Russia, which definitely makes this region a top priority for the fashion industry.
The cover of the inaugural issue has half Palestinian, half Dutch model Gigi Hadid wearing a veil with a cutout. The hijab has sparked a lot of debate. Besides, there's a lot to ponder over when flipping through the pages of Vogue Arabia. The magazine is stunning, printed in glossy pages and full of beautiful editorial shots. It features Jordanian shoe designer Amina Muaddi, Moroccan style icon Aicha Benhima, Beirut based interior designer Maria Ousseimi, and more. However, there is not much about Dubai, where it is based.
Dubai has positioned itself as the capital of fashion with the Dubai Design District. It's a creative hub built at a cost of $1.1 billion. The 21.5 million square feet facility is home to galleries, workshops, studios, and, of course, fashion stores. The district also serves as coveted office addresses of Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster and Partners, Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin, Burberry as well that of home grown talent Viktor Udzenija, Nadine Kanso, and Nathalie Trad.
Besides creating structural spaces, Dubai has also invested in Dubai Design and Fashion Council, whose mandate is to develop the emirate as a global design and fashion destination. The council works closely with regional fashion. Beirut-born Reem Acra sits on its board and the DDFC works with international bodies such as the Woolmark International Prize to launch talent from the Middle East onto the global platform. Moreover, Dubai also hosts the region's only definitive fashion event - Fashion Forward Dubai. But is Dubai the natural capital of fashion? Internationally, the two most successful designers Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad are from Lebanon. Home-grown talents such as Trad and Kanso may have their headquarters in Dubai but much of their production is done in Beirut - a city once known as the Paris of the Middle East. And when it comes to spending, Saudi Arabia is on par with the UAE. When you look at the best-dressed personalities from the region, it is usually Qatar's Her Highness Sheika Moza Bint Nasser who makes it on international lists.
Yet, if you ask any international brand, or young designer from the region on which city matters the most to fashion - the unanimous answer is Dubai. And that is because Dubai has put fashion on its agenda. The place might not have the quintessential fashion heritage of other cities, but it has more than made up for what it lacks through its facilities. Dubai's location, its easy accessibility - and the fact that it believes in commerce and creativity, and has the infrastructure make it a perfect spot for fashion. Dubai has purpose-built itself into a leader of the pack and the fact that Vogue Arabia is published out of the city proves that.
Sujata Assomull is the Consulting Fashion Editor at Khaleej Times

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