Building on the success of last year’s “Reach for the Stars” advertorial, Estée Lauder is back with another inspiring campaign that celebrates Middle Eastern women. Titled “Together We Shine,” the new campaign is set to highlight Arab women who have made a significant and measurable impact on their communities, just like the woman who the global beauty brand is named after.
In recent years, the women’s empowerment movement in the Middle East has seen a significant shift, with women infiltrating male-dominated industries and thriving exceptionally. Today, more than ever, girls in the Middle East have local role models to look up to. For the new campaign, which came out during Ramadan, Estée Lauder decided to celebrate three pioneering Arab women who have had an immeasurable impact. They are Sofana Dahlan, an accomplished lawyer from Saudi Arabia who holds the distinction of being among the first three female lawyers to have been granted the permit to practice law in the Kingdom; Fatima Al Banawi, a revered Saudi actress and filmmaker best known for her roles in popular television series and films Barakah Meets Barakah, A Blink of an Eye and Paranormal; and Sara Al Tamimi, an Emirati fashion designer who is pushing sustainability forward with her namesake womenswear brand.
Below, familiarize yourself with the three boundary-pushing women who are making an indelible mark on their communities.
What makes a strong woman?
Her ability to multi-task and her nature to be a caregiver. Her vulnerability yet subtle strength, wisdom, and perseverance against all odds.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got, and from who?
There are many, but one which is relevant today is “think before you act” – which is something my father always said to me.
Is there any female character from television or literature that you relate to?
I don’t really have a character I can relate to. However, my team often compares me to Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
Fatima Al Banawi
Who is the most inspiring woman you know?
A lot of work and productions made by women inspire me indeed, but I would only choose someone I know closely to be able to call them inspirational as individuals. I’d choose my own mother not because of her role as a mother, but because despite what life had brought her way, she has alway— and I rarely use the word always since nothing is definite— showed great resilience and an appetite to grow and learn. She invites goodness, and is a curiosity-driven, lifelong learner, and humble educator who has created waves of change when things were most stagnant, and the most stability when things were most turbulent. My sisters and I, and the women and girls she continues to educate have learned much from her and have learned even more by observing and mimicking her character and attitude toward life. She managed to instill proper foundations that would set us free to create our own worlds in a delicate, ethical, and responsible manner. My mother does not only set intentions for where she wants to head as a destination, but for where she would like to reach as a destiny.
If there’s one thing you wish every young girl knew, what would it be?
I wish I could ask this question to a young girl, so she would tell me one thing I should know now. But since we’re at it, and as cliche as this would sound now, here it goes: Life is more realistic than one imagines. Keep channeling your dreamy spirit, playfulness, and imagination. They will come in handy more than you think. Everything is possible, just play it smart.
What was your proudest personal moment?
When my dad was confused with whether I was a “Najlaa Fat’hi” or a “Faten Hamama” of Saudi Arabia. Two of Egypt’s well recognized and respected film actresses from the golden era of cinema in Egypt. You have no idea how proud I felt to be compared to them!
Sara Al Tamimi
Who’s one woman, dead or alive, that you would want to have dinner with?
My grandmothers of course!
What is your favorite thing about being a woman?
That I get to be a mother, daughter, and wife.
Can you share your most proud career moment with us?
Launching my brand— a big achievement that made me proud.