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Saudi models speak out after fashion show ban Open in fullscreen

Alex Wright

Saudi models speak out after fashion show ban

An abaya fashion show in Amman [Jordan Pix/Getty Images]

Date of publication: 5 June, 2015

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Models in the religiously conservative desert Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have expressed themselves frankly in local media after fashion shows have been officially forbidden.
Saudi fashion models have spoken frankly to local media about the problems created by their profession and have asked fellow Saudis to understand their jobs are not against the law.

Earlier this week, the Council of Chambers banned fashion shows from being held in the Kingdom, citing recent shows that had been organized without proper licensing.

Female model Wadyan Khalid told Saudi daily Okaz, “I’ve had to deal with lots of issues because society doesn’t approve of my job. The worse thing that’s happened to me is my fiancee left me when he found what I do for a living.”

Khalid models abayas, the traditional black loose over-garment Saudi women must wear.

“I think my job is totally normal. At work I am only with women and only women attend the fashion shows I model in, because they are the consumers we're targeting,” Khalid added.

Although a model himself Mansour Jamal addmitted, “To be honest, I’d never marry a model.”

Photographer Fayez Al-Qahtani said, “Without a doubt there are many obstacles in the way of people working in this industry. I’ve been arrested and had my camera confiscated several times, which has cost me lots of money.”

Head of the fashion committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce Umaima Azouz said, “We should look at the economic side, Saudis spend a fortune on fashion, especially women.”

Azouz disagreed with the ban saying, “We respect and abide by Arab and Islamic traditions in terms of decency.”

But not all have been so pessimistic, male model Nabil al-Salih told al-Arabiya, “Modeling is a new profession to our culture but audiences have been very welcoming to our efforts as models in shows.”

Saudi models, in particular male models, are highly sought after in the Gulf to showcase clothes and products. Across the oil-rich Gulf alone, luxury fashion and design sectors are worth more than $14 bn, according to the consultancy Bain and Company.

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