Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

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Elie Saab. (Reuters file photo)
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Elie Jr. and Christina Mourad. (Social media)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Tourism chiefs salute fashion designer for holding son’s wedding in Lebanon

  • The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels

BEIRUT: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has been hailed by tourism chiefs for staging his son’s lavish wedding reception on home turf.
The influential Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon saluted Saab “for holding the wedding party of his son, Elie Jr., and the Lebanese bride, Christina Mourad, in Lebanon instead of abroad, as do tens of Lebanese leaders and lords.
“Holding wedding parties abroad has deprived the tourism sector as well as other sectors in Lebanon of important revenues that can revive the national economy,” the syndicate said.
The nonprofit body that represents restaurateurs, added that the glittering event had “turned the country into a huge wedding attended by more than 3,000 guests from inside and outside Lebanon.
“People shared their joy on social media, communicating Lebanon’s image of civilization and tourism to the world. This wedding filled Lebanese hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and stirred the economic cycle for more than 10 days before and after the wedding. We salute the man who loves peace and Lebanon a thousand times.”
Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon (ATTAL), told Arab News: “The syndicate’s stance comes in response to a phenomenon that emerged a few years ago. Distinguished people have been holding lavish weddings for their children abroad, where they spend millions of dollars. This has not only been done by politicians, but also businessmen and senior employees, as if it has become a trend or an added value.”
The tourism leader said the situation was to do with Lebanese ego, but he emphasized that wedding parties held in Lebanon could be better than those staged abroad on all levels. “We have outstanding wedding planners who get employed to plan weddings abroad,” he added.
Abboud pointed out that the tourist season in Lebanon this year had so far been promising with the number of visitors from GCC countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, up on 2018 figures. He added that the 2019 draft budget approved by Parliament last week had not put “any burdens on the tourism sector.”
Chairman of the Hotel Owners Association in Lebanon, Pierre Al-Ashkar, estimated the cost of wedding parties held by Lebanese people abroad to be around $400 million, including hotel accommodation, purchases and transportation, in addition to the expenses of the wedding itself.
He said: “There is no longer a difference between politicians and businessmen who choose to hold their children’s wedding parties abroad. It is true that these weddings are no more than a few hundred, but their expenses are huge and, therefore, deprive Lebanon of this money.”
Al-Ashkar pointed out that the number of tourists choosing Lebanon this summer had risen, highlighting a significant 30 percent increase in the proportion of visitors from Europe.
“However, the number of tourists from GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, has not been as we had wished,” he added.
“Maybe this is because these tourists, who have not been visiting Lebanon for five to seven years, now have business in other countries or investments in tourist places outside of Lebanon, especially as some countries now offer incentives to attract tourists carrying certain passports and residence permits.”


British hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi has it covered

Updated 17 August 2019
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British hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi has it covered

  • “Saudi Arabia is a blessed land both physically and spiritually,” Idrissi said
  • “I would love to be a part of changing some of the stereotypes around the country through my work in fashion and film,” Idrissi commented

LONDON: Born in North West London to Moroccan and Pakistani parents, model Mariah Idrissi has made quite a name for herself – starring in campaigns for major high street retailers, hosting TED Talks and sharing snaps of her travels with her 88,000 Instagram followers.
The hijab-wearing model has been vocal about her preference for modest fashion and spoke to Arab News about her style, faith and achievements.
“I wear hijab to represent my faith, my culture, and because I genuinely love the idea of modest dress,” she said. “I think it’s important to feel comfortable in what you wear and also not lose a sense of your personality, hence why there is so much diversity in modest styles.”


Her breakthrough came when she was scouted in a shopping center. She did not think it would lead to anything; however, she was casted for an H&M ad. “The campaign went viral. From that moment I realized how little the media represented Muslims, and if they did it was often negative. That motivated me to continue to pursue a career in fashion and change the narrative around how hijab is viewed in the West,” she explained.
She also gave her first significant public speech in 2016, a TEDxTeen live-streamed to millions, about how modest clothing has now become a trend. Idrissi believes the fashion industry is catering more to women who want modest wear than it did a decade ago.
“I feel it is definitely improving,” she said. “Summertime can still be a little bit of a struggle in comparison to autumn and winter which is cooler, so there is still room for improvement.”


After her breakthrough with H&M, Idrissi went on to participate in projects with leading brands, including MAC Cosmetics and M&S in the Middle East. She also looks forward to working on projects in Saudi Arabia when an opportunity arises.
“Saudi Arabia is a blessed land both physically and spiritually. I feel there is so much potential and opportunity. I would love to be a part of changing some of the stereotypes around the country through my work in fashion and film,” Idrissi said.
She is now working on a few film projects, both features and documentaries, to continue challenging negative stereotypes around Muslims.


Moreover, she aims to inspire other potential modest models and advises them to always ask why before embarking on this path. Asking why has helped her on this career journey because even through difficult times, she was able to push forward.
As her upbringing has taught her, Idrissi is demonstrating that modernity and progression are not in conflict with tradition and customs: They are two sides of the same coin.