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Saudi Arabia Hosts First-Ever Swimwear Fashion Show


Mon 20 May 2024 | 02:34 PM
Yara Sameh

Saudi Arabia held its first fashion show featuring swimsuit models, a pushing step in the country.

The event took place on the second day of the inaugural Red Sea Fashion Week at the St. Regis Red Sea Resort, situated off Saudi Arabia's western coast.

The resort is part of Red Sea Global, one of the so-called giga-projects at the heart of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 social and economic reform program overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It featured the work of Moroccan designer Yasmina Qanzal and includes mostly one-piece suits in shades of red, beige, and blue. Most models had exposed shoulders and some had their midriffs partially visible. 

"It's true that this country is very conservative but we tried to show elegant swimsuits which represent the Arab world," Qanzal said. 

"When we came here, we understood that a swimsuit fashion show in Saudi Arabia is a historic moment because it is the first time to have such event," she said, adding it was "an honor" to be involved.

Prince Mohammed, who became first in line to the throne in 2017, has initiated a series of social reforms to the kingdom including sidelining stick-wielding religious police, reintroducing cinemas, and organizing mixed-gender music festivals.

They have coincided with ramped-up repression targeting dissent, including from conservative clerics who might protest such moves.

The fashion industry in 2022 accounted for US$12.5 billion, or 1.4 percent of the national GDP, and employed 230,000 people, according to a report published last year by the official Saudi Fashion Commission.