Finding an Arab model from the region would have been virtually impossible a few years ago, but things are rapidly changing. In the last decade or so, Arab talent have begun their big entry into the fashion industry, with Lancome signing its first ever Arab Muslim face, Tunisian model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem, in 2012. Since then, there has been a spectrum of Arab models taking the fashion industry by storm. In addition, an influx of modeling agencies have been cropping up across the region to ensure that the Arab world gets the representation it deserves. From Saudi Arabia to Morocco, read on for the Arab modeling agencies that are pushing for diversity and inclusion.
Clay Models, Saudi Arabia
Founded by filmmaker Lina Malaika and fashion designer Farah Hammad, Clay Models is the leading modeling agency in Saudi Arabia. The duo decided to launch their own company after they struggled to find locally-based models for photoshoots and campaigns. Though modeling is a female-dominated field, the agency represents both women and men talents, and currently have 30 models on their books.
UNN Model Management, Egypt
After a seven-year international modeling career working with prestigious titles such as Vogue Italia, Iman El Deeb took a leap of faith and made a move back to Egypt where she would go on to launch UNN Model Management eight-months later. Today, she represents over 20 new faces. UNN, which is ancient Nubian for “rebirth,” was Egypt’s first all-inclusive agency that represents diverse body types and sizes. On a mission to “decolonize” the region’s existing beauty standards, UNN is shaking up the fashion scene.
Chaabi Models, Morocco
Based in Marrakech, Chaabi Models works exclusively with young locally-based male talent, including models, photographers, stylists, and creative directors. The agency recently teamed up with Dubai-based Sole DXB and Louis Vuitton for a striking editorial shot entirely in Morocco.
The Mariam George Models, UAE
Following countless rejections due to not being tall, skinny, or fair enough, a fed-up Mariam George decided to launch her own modeling agency, alongside friends Anuroop Ajit and Ashi Karun, with inclusivity at the forefront. In addition to having plus-size and petite models on its roster, The Mariam George Models also represents Amanda D’Silva, a 19-year-old afflicted with Down Syndrome, and Iman Somani, who has albinism.