We all know the Hadid sisters. Gigi and Bella Hadid are celebrated for their looks, talent on the runway, in front of the camera and being part of in the inner circle of this generation’s most powerful super models – the insta-models. We are also proud that they are proud of their Arab heritage. Many of us see the half-Palestinian sisters as beacons of hope in the fashion world where Arab models are few and far in between. That’s all fair and good but did you know that there are other working Arab models making a name for themselves in the global fashion world while representing their countries? And international names such as Vera Wang, Valentino and Chanel are working with them to represent their brands. And some of them are more than models – philanthropists, activists and designers Arab models are making their voices heard on and off the runway. Here are six Arab models who aren’t Hadids that you should know about.
Moroccan Hind Sahli has worked for brands such as Marc Jacobs, Kenzo and Vera Wang. Now based in New York, Hind initially signed with a modelling agency in Morocco and then soon with DNA Model Management, New York. Although Hind comes from a conservative background, she explains that her family have been very supportive of her career. Proud of her Moroccan heritage, Hind plans on helping the women and children of Morocco one day by creating an association to motivate them on achieving anything they set their mind to.
“Give me a little more fierce “ – @fadilberisha *quick goes on @theashleygraham’s IG 😂❤ A post shared by Halima (@halima) on
Halima Aden is a Somali American model. Born in a Refugee camp in Kenya, she moved with her family to the USA when she was six. Halima is the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. Following her participation in the pageant, Halima received national attention and was signed to IMG Models. She is also the first Hijab wearing model to be on the cover of Vogue and Allure Magazine and walked in Milan Fashion Week 2016 and London Modest Fashion Week. Halima has been outspoken about her choice to wear the hijab in the fashion industry and is passionate about educating people on her background as refugee.
In studio in Sweden today 🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪 MakeUp and Picture by the gorgeous @makeupstina #regram A post shared by Kenza Fourati كنزة الفراتي (@kenzafourati) on
Tunisian Kenza Fourati’s modeling career kicked off when she got third place in the Elite Model Look competition when she was 15. She was then signed by Elite Model Management and has since been featured in Vogue and Sports Illustrated and worked with Chanel and H&M among others. Kenza has also walked shows for Armani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, and Valentino. Don’t think it ends there, Kenza likes to keep busy. Having lived in Tunisia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States and currently resides in New York where she’s launched her own fashion line By Kenz and is raising her one year old daughter with her husband, American Egyptian journalist Ayman Mohyeldin.
Hanaa Ben Abdesslem
Model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem started her career as a contestant on Mission Fashion 2 (the Lebanese version of Project Runway) and was quickly signed by IMG modelling in 2010. Since then, the Tunisian model hasn’t only worked as Jean Paul Gautier, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Anna Sui but she’s the first Arab model to be featured in the Pirelli calendar and the first ever Muslim spokesmodel for the iconic beauty house Lancôme. Hanaa has also been involved in philanthropy working with a couple of NGOs focusing on Tunisian hospitals, poverty-stricken areas and Tunisian youth.
Gorgeous Moroccan Canadian model Soraya Azzabi will make you do a double take. The third daughter in a single mother household, Soraya grew up in poverty. Her family migrated to Montreal from Casablanca, Morocco when she was eight and has shared her experience of growing up in hardship, going to school hungry and having to share one bed with the rest of her family. Other than modelling under Brave Models, Soraya has worked for fashion TV as a host and recently,was the voice of Alma in the movie Arctic Justice (2018).