Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women

Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student rides motorbike during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 July 2024
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Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women

  • Huma Hashmat has been riding a motorcycle since 2020, aims to improve women’s mobility in the conservative region
  • Social norms, safety concerns limit women’s mobility across Pakistan but things worse in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

PESHAWAR: Huma Hashmat fixed her dupatta and kick-started the Honda Deluxe motorbike early one morning this month and then sped off through the bustling streets of Peshawar, a conservative city in northwestern Pakistan where women’s mobility is considerably restricted.
While it’s common to see women catching public transportation or riding in private vehicles with their families, a woman driving a motorbike is a rare sight in Peshawar. In fact, Hashmat, 20, is the only woman biker in the city, riding daily since 2020 from her house in Academy Town to the University of Peshawar where she is pursuing a degree in art and design.
In a city where a woman’s bicycle rally was canceled in 2019 due to threats from religious forces, Hashmat has a quest: to inspire other women and show them that greater mobility can foster autonomy.
Social norms and safety concerns limit women’s mobility across Pakistan, where general commuting and travel activity is estimated to be 80 percent dominated by men, according to a 2016 London School of Economics study on gender inequality in transportation. Things are even worse in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, along the Afghan border, inhabited by deeply conservative, ethnic Pashtuns.
“I want to tell the girls that they can do nothing while sitting at home, until they begin to take a stand for themselves,” Hashmat told Arab News in an interview earlier this month. “The way I take care of all my chores independently, I want them to see me and get motivated, not necessarily by riding motorbikes, but they should learn this from me to do things on their own.”




Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student speaks during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

Hashmat has three brothers and her father owns a small business and supported her decision to study arts instead of pushing her toward traditional fields like education or medicine which are deemed more suitable for women.
“My father allowed me [to ride the bike],” she said. “He supports me, just as my brothers who say, ‘If Baba says nothing, you are allowed from our side too’.”
To motivate other girls, Hashmat uploads her videos on TikTok.
“I have heard from a lot of women that Peshawar is a city where they cannot roam around freely ... I upload the videos to show them that I go to every corner of Peshawar on my bike, and nothing has happened to me, nor has anyone said anything to me,” Hashmat said. “This means that Peshawar city is safe in this regard.”
Speaking to Arab News, her father, Hashmat Ali, said he had wanted to raise his daughter like his sons.
“I have permitted her to do whatever she wants,” he said. “The only thing I stress upon is for her to cover herself since it is a society where women have to do it.”
Noor Muhammad, a senior official at Peshawar’s Social Welfare Department, said Hashmat was a role model for others.




Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student rides motorbike during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

“Everyone is free, whether a man or a woman, to be on the road,” he said. “In fact, we empower and encourage women to travel on the road safely.”
However, he stressed the importance of all drivers following rules and regulations and obtaining a license before venturing out.
Hashmat’s friends also described her as “courageous,” and one classmate, Muskan Gul, said she was one of a kind.
“Many people in our society do not accept [such things] ... Huma’s decision to ride a bike is indeed an act of bravery.”


Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch

Updated 16 July 2024
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Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch

DUBAI: US Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid is the face of Adidas Originals’ new campaign for its SL “Super Light” 72 sneaker.

The brand is reintroducing the running shoe, which launched in the summer of 1972, in five colorways. Hadid took part in the launch campaign, which sees the model star in a digital and billboard campaign for the brand — with her image taking over a largescale billboard in New York this week.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“Lucky to still be able to have these (kinds) of pinch me moments,” Hadid posted on Instagram alongside a carousel of photos of the billboard.

The photographs for the campaign were shot in Paris and see Hadid posing in the shoes while wearing an Adidas top-and-shorts set with the brand’s identifiable three stripes. She holds a bouquet of red-hued flowers in the photos.

Hadid is celebrating more than just her latest campaign — this spring, the model launched her own brand Orebella. The inaugural products were three perfumes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

In July, the beauty entrepreneur announced that a percentage of the proceeds from her brand are being donated to the Orebella Alchemy Foundation, a charitable initiative aimed at creating positive change across various communities.

The Orebella Alchemy Foundation partners with organizations that are “deeply personal” to Hadid, such as Girls Club New York, which empowers young women and “youth of color,” and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), which aims to change lives by providing equine-assisted services to people with disabilities.

“We will be donating a minimum financial donation of 1 percent of all Orebella net sales to charity, as well as delivering service hours, community outreach and social promotion,” Hadid wrote on social media. “I can’t wait to keep growing and including even more amazing organizations. I have so many different organizations that are important to me and we will continue to roll them out.”


Marvel downplays Israeli background of character in ‘Captain America: Brave New World’

Updated 16 July 2024
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Marvel downplays Israeli background of character in ‘Captain America: Brave New World’

DUBAI: Amid the hype surrounding the release of the first “Captain America: Brave New World” trailer, Marvel Studios is seeking to distance itself from the controversial roots of one of its characters.

A story published on Marvel’s official website contained the following information  about new character Ruth Bat-Seraph, whose inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was previously confirmed in 2022.

“New to the cast is Shira Haas, who joins as Ruth Bat-Seraph. A former Black Widow, Ruth is now a high-ranking US government official who has the trust of President Ross,” said Marvel.

The description confirms some significant changes from the comics, where Ruth is originally a mutant named Sabra, an Israeli superhero and an agent of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. The character has long been controversial owing to her connection to the Israel-Palestine conflict — a controversy that has taken on even greater significance recently due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Although the term “Sabra” refers to a Jewish person born in Israel, the name is also considered insensitive considering the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982.

Ruth is played by Israeli actress Shira Haas, who was first cast in the role in 2022. She has previously appeared in movies including “Asia” and “The Zookeeper's Wife,” as well as the Netflix series “Bodies.”


First UAE childrenswear label at London’s Harrods marks ‘step forward’ in exporting Emirati creativity

Updated 16 July 2024
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First UAE childrenswear label at London’s Harrods marks ‘step forward’ in exporting Emirati creativity

DUBAI: Emirati brand Shatha Essa Kids has become the first childrenswear label from the UAE to be launched at luxury London department store Harrods, with designer Shatha Essa Al-Mulla telling Arab News the move represents a step forward in exporting Emirati creativity to the world.

Al-Mulla ventured into childrenswear last year, after launching her eponymous womenswear label in 2016. Now, her frothy, fun line of dresses and sets has found a home at the historic store Harrods.

The designer dubbed the achievement “an immense honor and a significant milestone,” adding the move “(showcases) Emirati culture and craftsmanship on a prestigious global platform … (and) also contributes to putting Emirati childrenswear on the international map.”

The line features special occasion looks for toddlers and girls up to the age of 14, with all the outfits designed and produced in Dubai.

“I design those dresses for my girls first then display them to the world. It is like giving everyone access to our private wardrobe at home,” the designer said of the inspiration behind the brand, referring to her two daughters Hessa and Hind.

Summery butter yellows and grey, sophisticated tulle outfits mark the collection, with rose pink embroidered double-breasted dresses and silk bow-adored looks on show at the retail space in London.

The interactive retail space, which was designed by Al-Mulla herself, features a theatre booth and dress up dolls.

“I aimed to create an ambiance reminiscent of a delightful birthday party … allowing kids to fully immerse themselves in a whimsical magical environment and enjoy collaborative play,” Al-Mulla explained.

The permanent space is emblematic of an East-to-West trend, the designer said.

“This milestone is crucial for the UAE’s fashion scene because it represents a step forward to exporting Emirati-made products to the world, fostering greater appreciation and interest in our designs.”

 


Imaan Hammam poses for resort, sportswear labels

Updated 15 July 2024
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Imaan Hammam poses for resort, sportswear labels

DUBAI: From Victoria’s Secret sportswear to luxury resort wear, Moroccan Egyptian Dutch model Imaan Hammam is spending the summer broadening her horizons.

The model, who is usually found on haute couture catwalks and modeling for high-end eveningwear labels, took to social media this week to share snaps from campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and US label Louisa Ballou.

Hammam posed for fashion photographer Nikki Arya in outfits from Louisa Ballou’s Archive High Tide collection. The model was photographed on a beach at dusk wearing a cobalt blue-and-black sheath dress with graphic patterns across the length of the ankle-grazing outfit.

Raised in Charleston, South Carolina, in the US, designer Louisa Ballou founded her brand in 2018. The label seeks to offer “an unconventional perspective on resort wear, creating beautifully crafted and covetable luxury clothing that transcends the beach,” according to its website.

From the beach to the gym, Hammam shared campaign images from a shoot with US label Victoria’s Secret this week. In the images, she shows off nude-toned gym wear, complete with a zip-up sports top and matching pants.

“Keeping comfortable,” the model captioned the images on Instagram.

Earlier this month, Hammam took to social media to share a fashion shoot in which she celebrates Moroccan culture.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

“I will always be proud when I get to show off the beauty that is Moroccan culture and collaborate with so many amazing artists and creatives,” Hammam captioned a carousel of snaps on Instagram.

The model collaborated with auteur Marwane Jinane, photographer Hamza Lafrouji and a fellow model and creative who goes by the name Cheb Pablo on the shoot, which sees the pair posing in various locations in Casablanca.

Hammam is known for working with and promoting artists and creatives from the MENA region with her 1.7 million Instagram followers. The runway star — who is a fashion week staple and is currently the brand ambassador of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder — is known for dropping personally curated playlists of regional music for her social media fans and she has also promoted regional artists in the past.

In June, Hammam hit the runway at the Vogue World event in Paris alongside Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadidi, French Algerian icon Farida Khelfa and Venus and Serena Williams.


Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

Updated 14 July 2024
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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

  • Vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, workshops

LONDON: The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, the UK’s longest-running festival celebrating Arab arts and culture, runs until July 21 and showcases a vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, and workshops.

Founded in 1998, the festival has become a cornerstone of Liverpool’s cultural calendar.

This year’s program features a diverse lineup of artists from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, offering a dynamic interplay between traditional and contemporary Arab art forms.

Laura Brown, creative producer of the festival, told Arab News: “Artists are dealing with contemporary ideas and art forms, but often the conversations and themes they are tapping into are something Arab communities have been talking about for generations, like migration, identity and conflict.”

One of the highlights will be the festival’s tribute to Palestine. A special screening of “At Home in Gaza and London” will be held on Monday, with ticket proceeds benefiting collaborators in Gaza.

“Oranges and Stones,” a wordless play told through physical action and music, on Thursday will depict 75 years of occupation and settlement in Palestine. Marina Barham, general director of Al-Harah Theater in Bethlehem, will also speak about the therapeutic role of theater in addressing community trauma.

Port city Liverpool has fostered diverse and multicultural communities, with Arabic reportedly being the city’s second most-spoken language.

Brown said: “What’s really important to us is that we work with the community to ensure everyone feels represented. We talk to the community about artists they like and who they want to see, to bring them over. It was a conversation with members of the Somali community that introduced us to Aar Maanta.”

As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organization, the festival is part of the 2023-26 investment program.

Brown added: “Being an NPO is something the whole team is incredibly proud of and it is something we take very seriously.

“The arts landscape is very challenging and the ability to be able to know your festival is secured for several years in advance allows you to build relationships with venues and creatives to develop programs and projects further.”