Sudan holds first unisex fashion shows after Bashir ouster

Sudanese designers organise a series of mixed-gender fashion shows to present their new lines. (AFP)
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Updated 04 November 2020

Sudan holds first unisex fashion shows after Bashir ouster

  • Spectator Sawsan Hassan recalled how policemen under Bashir used to stop her for simply not wearing a headscarf
  • A decade ago, Hassan had attended a fashion show in Sudan that ended with organisers and models behind bars

KHARTOUM: In a move that would have been almost unthinkable under ousted president Omar Al-Bashir, Sudanese designers have organised a series of mixed-gender fashion shows to present their new lines.
The shows in upmarket Khartoum hotels saw female and male models parading down the catwalk together for the first time since before Bashir seized power more than three decades ago.
"In the old days, it was very difficult to organise a show like this. One would not dream of getting approval for it from authorities," Sudanese designer Khaled Onsa told AFP.
"We used to face repression instead, but now we are ruled by a system that guarantees public freedoms."
Bashir, a general who seized power in a coup in 1989, ruled Sudan with an iron fist until his ouster in a palace coup in April last year following months of mass protests on the streets.
He imposed a harsh form of Islamic law, criminalising everything from drinking alcohol to women wearing clothes deemed as "revealing".
The transitional government installed after his overthrow has set about dismantling his legacy of repression.
It scrapped Sudan's 1996 public order laws which empowered policemen to take action against people dressed "indecently".
Female designer Nermin Awad Sharif, who organised one of the shows, said there had never been much opposition to such events among the people.
"What we offer are outfits that everyone will accept," she told AFP. "I don't think anyone in Sudanese society would object to them."
Model Barza Mostafa said the show was an opportunity to introduce fashion to the Sudanese people and Sudan to the fashion world.
"We want to introduce the world to our culture," she said. "Previously, people did not understand the idea of a fashion show but now we can see the audience watching and interacting."
Spectator Sawsan Hassan recalled how policemen under Bashir used to stop her for simply not wearing a headscarf.
A decade ago, Hassan had attended a fashion show in Sudan that ended with organisers and models behind bars.
"Some were even flogged," she said.
Designer Hossam Mohamed Ahmed believes the shows are testament to the spirit of change in Sudan.
"I can now show people my designs. It was impossible before," he said.
Mahid Muhammad, who attended one of the shows with his three sisters, proudly showed short video clips he had taken with his mobile phone.
"This is Sudan in its full freedom," he said.


Sheikh Hamdan leads the way as cyclists get freedom of Dubai

Updated 20 November 2020

Sheikh Hamdan leads the way as cyclists get freedom of Dubai

  • Crown Prince said high participation in Dubai Ride 2020 reflected growing awareness about the importance of fitness and the benefits of sporting activities
  • 14km Sheikh Zayed Road route offered exhilarating experience of cycling among Dubai’s iconic landmarks including Emirates Towers, The Museum of the Future, and the DWTC

DUBAI: A section of Dubai’s main artery, the Sheikh Zayed Road, was transformed into a 14km cycling track for the very first time as part of Dubai Fitness Challenge 2020. More than 20,000 cyclists participated in the inaugural Dubai Ride 2020, marking a new milestone in their fitness journey.

Spearheaded by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, the event saw cyclists hitting the roads as early as 5:00 am, embarking on two routes in the heart of the city — a 14km loop on Sheikh Zayed Road and a 4km family route around Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.

The Crown Prince praised the exceptional community response, saying the high participation reflects growing awareness about the importance of fitness and the benefits of integrating sporting activities into one’s lifestyle. Sheikh Hamdan encouraged the community to explore simple ways to incorporate fitness activities into their daily routines, so that we can enhance our health, wellbeing and happiness. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the organizers, the support extended by stakeholders and the enthusiasm shown by participants, which combined to make the event a success.

Cycling enthusiasts were excited to ride the 14km Sheikh Zayed Road route with both directions of the highway opened exclusively for cyclists. International athletes, as well as the city’s leading cycling clubs and communities, joined the riders for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of cycling around Dubai’s iconic landmarks including Emirates Towers, The Museum of the Future, and the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC).


Families and children as young as five enjoyed the 4km bike ride around Souk Al Bahar, Dubai Opera, The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. The event also featured high participation from people of determination, who joined the cycling tour around Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.

The local stakeholder network extended overwhelming support to the Dubai Ride event, with public and private sectors rallying to contribute to realizing the city’s vision to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Government organizations, as well as schools and educational institutions joined participants in a socially distanced setting, testament to Dubai’s commitment to creating a safe environment for people to be physically active.

Dubai Ride was organized by Dubai Tourism and Dubai Sports Council; with presenting partner DP World; association partners Emirates NBD, Etisalat and Mai Dubai; official partners Arabian Radio Network (ARN), Daman, EMAAR, Shield ME and Talabat; and government partners Event Security Committee, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Dubai Police, Ministry of Education and Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

Dubai Fitness Challenge 2020 will continue until November 28. For more information on all events and activities, please visit www.dubaifitnesschallenge.com

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