Long ago, it was Bob Dylan who said: “The Times They Are a-Changin.” But in Saudi Arabia times are changing at break-neck speed. Under the de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohmmad bin Salman, the country is opening doors to all things which were a few ago days considered haram (forbidden by Islam). The latest in this series is the announcement of a young Saudi Arabian princess inspired by her time living in Tokyo as is the new face of fashion.
Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, the great-granddaughter of King Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia’s founder, was named honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council in December.
The royal, who turns 30 on Sunday, oversaw this month her country’s first Arab Fashion Week, headlined by Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli.
With a shayla headscarf draped over her hair, the princess is warm, welcoming and eloquent, the exact image that fans have hailed as the future of Saudi Arabia and critics have dismissed as little more than window dressing in one of the most restrictive countries in the world.
“Absolutely I understand people’s perspective,” Princess Noura told AFP in an interview in Riyadh. “Saudi Arabia has strong ties with its culture. As a Saudi woman, I respect my culture, I respect my religion.
“Wearing the abaya or being if you would like to call it conservative in the way we dress is something that is part of who we are. It’s part of our culture … this is how our life is, even while travelling,” she said.
The first Saudi Arabian edition of Arab Fashion Week opened on April 11, two weeks behind schedule, under the eye of Princess Noura.