Saudi Arabia hosts first ever 'Red Sea Fashion Week'


Published: 2024-05-18 22:44

Last Updated: 2024-06-24 22:20

Editor: Mohammad Alakaileh

"Red Sea Fashion Week" in Saudi Arabia
"Red Sea Fashion Week" in Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia's rapid social transformation a sign of progress or a troubling departure from tradition? For the first time, Saudi Arabia has launched the "Red Sea Fashion Week," marking a significant milestone in the Kingdom's swift social changes. The event kicked off on May 17, 2024, on the picturesque island of Amahat in the Red Sea, reflecting the country's shift from a traditionally conservative society to one embracing global cultural elements.

The opening day of Fashion Week featured a dazzling array of runway shows, showcasing seven brands, including five Saudi labels and two international ones.

On the second day, Moroccan designer Yasmine Kayo presented her swimwear collection, featuring international models.

Attendees can look forward to a variety of side events and fashion shows over the coming days. These events will feature a wide range of fashion items, from jewelry to ready-to-wear clothing, crafted by both Saudi and international designers. Experts and specialists from the global fashion industry will also participate, providing a platform for exchange and collaboration, According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Such events were once never seen before in Saudi Arabia, a country that has been experiencing rapid social liberalization in recent years. This wave of openness included mixed-gender concerts, global entertainment, and sports events, all of which were previously prohibited.

Since 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the driving force behind these reforms, receiving widespread support, particularly from the younger population. Prominent religious figures have also endorsed these changes, though some conservative Saudis remain quietly opposed.

The Kingdom has implemented significant social changes and economic reforms under the Crown Prince's leadership. These include allowing women to drive, attend football matches, and enjoy reopened cinemas and vibrant concerts. The country has also relaxed restrictions on businesses operating during prayer times.

Last year, Riyadh hosted the "Middle Beast" festival, the largest music event ever held in the Kingdom. The festival, reminiscent of the iconic Woodstock, saw three days of continuous music in a specially constructed desert venue near Riyadh. Women, some without their traditional abayas and headscarves, danced alongside men, which was not the case before

The Kingdom has also hosted numerous Arab and Western concerts in various cities, attracting mixed-gender audiences in a historically unprecedented manner.

Saudi Arabia is home to two of the holiest sites in Islam: the Kaaba in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. Millions of Muslims from around the world journey to these sacred places each year to perform Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, fulfilling key pillars of their faith. The Kaaba, located in the Masjid al-Haram, is the most revered structure in Islam, and Muslims face its direction during their daily prayers.

Medina, with the Prophet's Mosque, holds immense spiritual significance as the final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). These sites symbolize the heart of Islamic devotion and unity, drawing believers in profound acts of worship and reflection.

Many argue that there is no place for Westernized activities or cultural shifts near these holy places, as they stand as symbols of pure, undiluted faith and tradition.

Adding that the sanctity of these locations must be preserved, free from influences that detract from their religious significance.

Has Saudia Arabia lost its touch? Is it truly progress, or does it signal an unsettling departure from cultural traditions?

Some wonder that such transformations, influenced by external pressures and Westernization, are part of a larger issue of cultural colonization, while others, especially those in the higher levels of social class, openly embrace them.

Is this the future we envision for traditional societies, or are we losing something valuable in the process?