By Sohila El Saadany
Introducing some of social media’s most famous names in the fields of #fashion, #art and #photography right from the Arab hub.
Bejal Al Qasim
With 26.3K followers and counting, 21-year-old Al Qasim established his own fan base with his stylish flair. You would not be the first to wonder how this Aramco employee, who is studying mechanical engineering, discovered his love for style. Al Qasim explains, “My passion for fashion comes from when I first started my tumblr blog and began researching a wide variety of styles until I came to a point which suited me personally.”
Al Qasim describes his personal style as “a mix between contemporary and street wear with small changes depending on seasons and what is trendy.” Sometimes he resorts to creating his “own trend.”
As a social media fashion figure, he is bound to have seen a lot of fashion faux pas online. When asked about that, Al Qasim answered,
The problem with style on Instagram is that once a certain influencer grows in popularity and creates his own style, a lot of people copy him in attempt to gain the same kind of recognition. No matter how unnatural it may look on that person, it is still copied, hence forgetting his originality while chasing followers and likes. — Bejal Al Qasim
Anum Bashir is a fashion force to be reckoned with. Her fashion blog Desert Mannequin, is all about having fun while channeling your inner stylist. She describes, “There is an amusing and whimsical side to everything that we should truly enjoy. Fashion and styling are no exception. If it makes you feel good, confident and adds that little kick in your stride, my advice will always be to go for it! Oh and shoes… DO NOT forget to have fun with shoes.”
In Bashir’s opinion, people should delve more into the untapped worlds of fashion items. “I would love to see people experiment more. Hop on the Internet, do some research and learn that a wide array of pretty little things can be yours simply by pressing the ‘Submit Your Order’ button.”
As a fashion icon herself to many of her followers, Bashir recounts her own idols.
I love and respect any woman who’s completely comfortable in her own skin and has a point of view to share – and there’s just too many out there to name. From someone as ageless as Iris Apfel to Leandra Medine, these women all share one thing: the desire to be heard by continuously sharing something prolific with us, and doing it all whilst looking pretty darn great. — Anum Bashir
Ahmad El Abi
If you are looking for an extremely colorful account with lots of novel ideas and a good number of rubber ducks, you have found it. Ahmad El Abi may have graduated from the faculty of medicine, but has now shifted to art director and photographer.
When El Abi first started he had no idea he would be this big on Instagram with more than 49K followers. He says, “I wasn’t sure that was going to happen, I spent almost a year taking photos without posting them online, but my friends’ feedback was really encouraging so I took the first step and Instagram really helped a lot.”
His work reflects his love of colors. He describes the creative process he goes through, “Sometimes it is really random, I hear or see something from daily life or remember something from my childhood and I get some ideas. Other times it is really well planned so I would have a specific theme in mind.”
As for the rubber ducks, El Abi reveals the secret behind them:
I love rubber duckies, and there is just something about these cute little creatures that spreads joy without even trying. With time they became part of my identity, just like the use of color. I mean now most of the gifts I receive are related to ducks from all over the world. — Ahmad El Abi
One of the names on the rise in Kuwait is Ali Chaaban, a senior art director and contemporary artist who merges art, fashion and humor. Becoming popular on social media is both a blessing and a curse. He elaborates, “On one hand your fan base grows and people start to take a liking to what you represent, your ideas and perspective. On the other hand you raise your own bar high, people get accustomed to a certain level of work that you always need to meet. It becomes a difficult challenge, both satisfying and frustrating.”
A lot of his work portrays a sense of humor, hence making the message he aims at delivering more memorable. He says, “I personally incorporate humor from time to time. Not on a regular basis, depending on the seriousness of the message. Humor, however, is important and most people underestimate the power of a good political or socio-economical joke.”
He describes his own personal style as Bauhaus attire, mixed with a little bit of grunge or an industrial feel. The dependence on metal in clothing is very essential; it gives you the futuristic bionic sense. — Ali Chaaban
Saudi’s Olsen twins; well minus the twin part since there is almost a three-year difference, Thana and Sakhaa Abdul are taking the world by storm with their chic looks, style advice and beautiful photo journal of their travel adventures. The sisters both got into fashion as children at their mom’s atelier where they grew up with fabrics and designs all around.
Despite both being downright stylish, they definitely exhibit some fashion differences when it comes to their outfit choices. According to them, Sakhaa is “very classy in what she wears,” while Thana confesses she dresses “more like the 90s from chocker to denim jackets.” When asked about their fashion icons, they replied, “We are OBSESSED with two amazing Saudi ladies, Dina Al Jehani and Reem Al Kanhal.”
Because they are now very influential on social media, they feel a responsibility towards their followers. They explain, “We started being more careful with what to say on Snapchat and we make sure our Instagram is always fresh and cool so our followers aren’t bored.”
Both of them believe that the Saudi fashion scene is rapidly growing. The only thing left to say is that the Abduls are definitely #sistergoals.
In some way, that helps Saudi girls be more supportive of each other by empowering one another. — The Abduls
Mohammed Al Kindy
Mohammed Al Kindy, aka CHNDY, has enjoyed creating things from a very young age. His nickname stuck with him since MSN Messenger days.
His passion for crafting things reached a higher level with age making him decide to become a graphic designer then a fashion enthusiast.
He even started his own brand, Chndy Clothing, for which he has really big ideas. “Honestly Chndy Clothing was just me testing the market in Oman and asking myself if people would buy some of my random illustrations. When I realized how fast I could sell I realized I should work harder to make it even bigger. So technically I’m going to nix Chndy Clothing and rebrand to a new concept.”
Chndy being in the fashion business does not mean he is laying off graphic design.
Designing is my day to day go to thing whether it’s for a product or for a photo shoot. — Mohammed Al Kindy
Naif Al Haif
Naif Al Haif, aka NAF, is an inspiration with great style, a super fresh look and a fashion brand Noble and Fresh, also NAF. He explains the origins of his brand name, “Since arriving to Canada, there have been many mispronunciations of my name and I had found a simpler solution by using the name NAF. Noble represents the high social status, as well as having high moral principles and ideals. And fresh keeps things current and crisp.”
NAF has always been in awe of the fashion world. To him, beauty and art are all around.
“There isn’t a specific style of art that I solely draw inspiration from. The simplicity of seeing beauty created, and learning from the people who make beautiful things, inspires me.”
So we ask, what do you have in your closet NAF?
“My wardrobe only contains amazing choices – it is much easier for me to feel inspired when I have a smaller number of exceptional pieces than when I see have more choices that feature items that are mediocre. I pay very close attention to the accessories that I choose, they pull an outfit together and tell the world how cool, polished and sophisticated you are.”
There are countless ways to stay fashionable while keeping your outfits comfortable and practical. It is not in style, nor will it ever be to wear an outfit that is two sizes too small. — Naif Al Haif
Instagram: fabolousnaf / nobleandfresh
Hasoon, aka Cheb Moha, a name inspired from Rai music, has always been intrigued by sports, design and culture. He was born in Baghdad, grew up in Libya then moved to Canada and has been traveling between the Middle East and Europe for the past year.
The constant traveling intensified his love of culture and photography. He describes his serious connection with photography, “I feel that it’s a form of expression that satisfies my nostalgic desires. This is why I use analog cameras to take photos. I try to communicate what I see, develop a concept and then go with it. I try to just keep it honest and raw, simple
Cheb Moha has a very interesting fashion style. He explains, “I used to shop a lot online and be into high end fashion. I still am, but with traveling and being on the move often, I’ve had to adapt my style to be more practical. I think the best styles are the ones formed naturally according to your comfort and surroundings. Also most of the garments I wear are actually designed by myself.”
Fashion influences my photography when I am styling myself or others to portray a certain look. I do want to do more fashion editorial photography, so in that sense I would have to think of styling the model and such. — Mohammed Hasoon