Today the first issue of ‘Vogue Arabia’ will hit newsstands across the Middle East, as well as fashion capitals London, Paris and Milan. It is the first fashion magazine in the Middle East to be published in both Arabic and English and Gigi Hadid, the 21 year old supermodel with Palestinian roots, will be the first model to grace the cover. The cover image features a close up shot of Gigi wearing a bejeweled headscarf.
Aside from being quite beautiful the images have raised much controversy within the Arab region. Gigi’s father Mohammed Hadid is a real estate developer based in Bel Air, Los Angeles, however he was born in Nazareth to Palestinian parents and holds dual Jordanian-American citizenship. Gigi herself expresses pride in her Arab roots in her instagram post unveiling the cover image, however the choice to place her as cover model has been criticised heavily by others.
The criticisms come on a number of levels. Many people believe that Gigi only expresses interest in her Palestinian roots when it suits her, and does not use her powerful platform to express support for the Palestinian cause. Others are also criticising her wearing of the hijab. Gigi herself does not identify publicly as Muslim, although she was brought up in a household with a Muslim father.
The backlash against the cover image is also aimed at vogue arabia editors, with many people claiming that there are far more suitable and representative Arab women who should have been chosen for the cover shoot instead of Gigi.
Although it's true that Gigi Hadid has Arabic roots, her face does not reflect any of these roots. Believe me she doesn't know one word in Arabic, there are many educated Arab women who should be on the next cover, hopefully it will be better. [Instagram]
We need an arab face, we have actresses and models with talent, give them a chance. [Instagram]
The debate has sparked much debate over issues of identity, politics and religion in the region, but the magazine’s editor-in-chief Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, insists that ‘in one poised photograph, she [Gigi] communicates a thousand words to a region that’s been waiting far too long for it’s Vogue voice to speak’.
For more information on Vogue Arabic visit their website.