To be honest it’s been three years now that I have been trying to gather & putting together my thoughts to write this article but somehow was unable to finish it up and give it a final presentable look. And, could be it was a blessing in disguise because since then lots of water has flown under the bridge. All this time that has passed has changed my perspective of thinking and looking at things. As we all know that perceptions are often not true and are deceiving instead. .I guess now that my thoughts have bloomed & matured and my inner self finally persuaded me to finalize my article per se on the subject issue. So, here it is.
Some three years back my first impression when I first arrived in Riyadh – the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – was total Black and White, to every sense of the word. It was because what I could see – everywhere and all often – were only people in black and white. That is, to me the sight of men in white Thobs and women in black Abaya was not only amazing but mind boggling too.
The above feeling was especially getting over me because back home in Pakistan I belonged to fashion industry which is the “world of colors” – of many shades and shine, As such my immediate response was that the life here would be like the days of “black and white television” and that more so we would now be going many decades backwards like more of a rewind button into the distant past. Frankly, to some extent in the beginning it did give me the feeling of putting up with colorless life here, for years to come.
Moreover, in the beginning it seemed to me – which of course later on proved to be a false notion – that the society and the people in Saudi Arabia were very conservative in all aspect of life – be it living, food and/or fashion. And about the women folks here, in men’s minds are erroneously labeled as a gender which has no rights at all, whatsoever. This is of course a false & biased impression given by the other side of the world. For me also, it seemed very awkward that from going out to getting stuffs for your house all of the things were heavily dependent on male figures as women supposedly couldn’t go out all alone. But again these were later on proven to be based on false perceptions only. .
For me being new in the country, the very first “black and white” impression prevailed for quite some time. However as the time passed by and as I returned to my professional side as a fashion designer, the old perception died as life seemed very colorful everywhere. With the passage of time, I could see and explore more on the color side of the life in Saudi Arabia. Very soon I came to know how much colorful this “black and white” really was. And, there you go. My perception totally changed in a short span of time. No sooner than later, I began to appreciating & admiring the beauty of “black and white” which was visible to my sight at every corner that I could see. The Saudi men in White and the Saudi women in Black became the standard which was seen everywhere.
Frankly, I also often used to think & wonder if the Saudi men and women had any interest in fashion at all. Thoughts used to hit my mind as to why would they even be interested in fashion when they could not think & imagine beyond white Thob and black Abaya.
Trust you me, I was totally wrong as all my thoughts were mere misconception based on wrong perceptions only. The last three years have opened my eyes & minds as I have seen & known the beauty of this “black and white”. Now that when I have already realized its beauty, I couldn’t stop myself writing about it.
Unfortunately, the only thing known to the Western world about Saudi Arabia is that the women here cannot drive. But they should realize that this is not all that women here want to do. Trust you me, perhaps that’s the only thing that Saudi women folks are not doing in here otherwise they are free to do anything and pursue any career. That is why Saudi women are seen to be doing wonders in all fields of life & profession. They are excelling in the field of fashion also.
All international brands & labels are found here and they in fact have a very huge clientele too. If the “black and white” were so colorless why would international brands look for & explore market here? The Saudi brands and designers themselves have also got recognized in the international market. I would admit that the credit for all of these successes goes especially to the Royals princesses who have not only been able to portray a beautiful image of women but have also made changes in the lives of women down to the grass roots levels.
Saudi women have made history by forming the biggest human ribbon for cancer awareness and have led women in sports and in fashion, The Saudi women are shining and proving their mettle. Saudi fashion and art industry manned by women are also not behind their counterparts in any other part of the world.
By Engg. Madiha Noman
Madiha Noman is a Professional Electrical Engineer and is now working as
Fashion Designer after accomplishing Courses in Fashion Design.