Two of the region's leading female forces have teamed up to present SAWA, a new initiative that brings around 30 regional brands under one roof. By holding the pre-Ramadan exhibition, entrepreneur Ghizlan Guenez and Emirati jewellery designer Salama Khalfan hope to support and uplift local talents in the creative and fashion fields who have been adversely affected during the pandemic. Taking place in Warehouse 83 at Al Serkal Avenue until April 10, SAWA, which means 'Together,' is the Dubai-based duo’s way of creating some community magic as the Holy Month commences.
During a busy period in the Middle Eastern fashion industry, Ramadan exhibitions and trade shows usually require a big budget. And SAWA aims to provide the ready-to-wear, accessories, jewellery, home decor and lifestyle labels on board a platform for selling in a way that’s low risk and cost-effective.
"So excited to be working with my dear friend @salamakhalfan on @atsawa.ae, a platform that we created to support small and medium-size businesses in the creative and fashion ecosystem by facilitating and enabling participation in trade shows and expos at nominal, non-profit costs," Guenez said via Instagram. "The pandemic has impacted everyone and this is how we’re responding."
Both women have experienced the effects of COVID, whether through sales or creative process and inspiration, with their own businesses. Guenez who founded The Modist, a well-known luxury modest fashion platform, had to close operations in 2020 because of the pandemic.
We bid farewell to the Modist, which was founded in 2017 by Ghizlan Guenez as a unique and revolutionary gateway to modest fashion in the Middle East: https://t.co/yb1brHGS1o pic.twitter.com/iD8lEUkI9J— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) April 6, 2020
Some well-established local favourites, including Das Collection and Bleach, are participating in SAWA, along with up-and-coming home-grown brands. Beirut-born designer Dima Ayad, known for her multi-functional pieces, and Faiza Bougessa, whose creations stand out because of sharp attention to tailoring details, are some of the designers showcasing their collections. Bambah, the label founded by Egyptian designer Maha Abdul Rasheed and worn by A-listers likes Priyanka Chopra and Amal Clooney, is another notable addition. Plus, there’s handcrafted accessories brand Le Pom Pom, which specialises in locally made vibrant strappy sandals, beaded clutches, phone cases and more.
“Celebrating a united spirit and supporting young creatives is what Ramadan is all about,” Grana Khan, Le Pom Pom’s founder told “The National.” “We’ve gotten so used to being socially distant now, SAWA will reignite some excitement about bringing people together over a shared love of shopping.”
With so much buzz being generated around SAWA, it won’t be surprising if we see the founders coming up with other editions.
“We would love to see SAWA in Abu Dhabi and other emirates and maybe in different parts of the GCC,” Khalfan told “The National.” “There’s something so magnificently powerful about people coming to help each other. When you’re surrounded by that energy, it becomes very contagious and inspires you to create more.”