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Tunisian Actor Dhafer L’Abidine Talks Dreams, Determination, and Arab Storytelling in the Fall/Winter 2023 Issue of Vogue Man Arabia

Photo: Sam Rawadi

The Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Man Arabia spotlights the incredible trajectory of Dhafer L’Abidine, the Tunisian actor, writer and director who rose to fame with hit drama series Dream Team, and today has more than 70 movies and television series to his name, including Children of Men, The Da Vinci Code, Sex and the City 2, and numerous Arab works. For the cover shoot, we captured L’Abidine on camera during his visit to 2023’s edition of the Venice Film Festival, a major celebration of film sponsored by Cartier, of which the star been an ambassador since 2021.

Now, gearing up for the release of the Anf Wa Thalath ‘Oyoun (1972) remake, L’Abidine opens up about his journey into films, and his hopes for the future. “I would love to reach a point where someone from a different culture can relate emotionally to a story from the Arab world,” L’Abidine shares. And who better to take on this task than him?

Photo: Jeremy Zaessinger

In the pages of our latest issue, we also step into the shoes of Ziyad “Zizo” Almaayouf, the very first Saudi Arabian international professional boxer in history, sporting a fresh new look in the season’s latest trends. Think bold layers, exaggerated silhouettes and power-packed prints.

Having accidentally discovered the sport as a boy, Almaayouf remembers his love affair with boxing fondly in the pages of Vogue Man Arabia. “I would observe the boxing sessions while warming up for tennis. I knew that was what I wanted to do.” His success is something the athlete accepts with immense gratitude, and a sense of responsibility. “To many spectators, these achievements and moments might be small milestones, but for us, in Saudi and the Arab world, this is historical. No one’s done it before, and to be the first to do anything, is something that can never be taken away from us,” he says. “I’m blessed to be the one in this position to cement history for my country. My aim is not only to see my dreams come true, but more importantly, to make it easier on those who come after me in boxing from Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to achieve their own dreams.”

Photo: Axle Jozeph

Soaring outside of the region, Vogue Man Arabia puts its lens this season on WIlliam Abadie, currently loved across the world as Antoine Lambert from the hit Netflix series Emily in Paris. In a special interview, the French actor opens up about his road to acting, sharing that “When I closed my eyes at night, I thought of myself as a make-believe movie star… but I never thought it could become my profession. It felt too far, too unattainable.”

Rolling with the punches life had to offer, Abadie landed up in New York, and the rest is history. Reflecting on his experiences as a French actor in America, he says, “It’s already a tough industry without trying to do it where you don’t belong.” Though he’s played several roles over the years, the charming and mysterious Antoine may just be Abadie’s favorite. “So far, it’s the role of my life,” he signs off. “Thanks to Antoine, I train more, work more, and as a result get better, faster.”

Photo: Courtesy Gucci

Among the cool crew overseas, another name that stands out this year is A$AP Rocky. The American rapper — and newly minted dad of two — is now also headlining as one of the new faces of Gucci Guilty, a fragrance that holds special meaning to him. “Out of all our senses, smell is kind of like a time capsule,” he reflects this month. “For some reason, Gucci Guilty Parfum smells familiar to me, like something I smelled as a child, and gives me this warm feeling of safety, happiness, and joy. I’m going to keep chasing memories like that, so it’s safe to say I wear a lot of it.”

On the topic of parenthood, Rocky lights up instantly. Sharing two sons with superstar Rihanna, the musician has got his hands full, but it’s a challenge he’s more than happy to take on. “I’m glad to be the father of my children. I really want to give them the best experiences. [But] I’m going to teach them a lot, to be open-minded and about diversity and whatnot. I knew I was a pretty decent, cool person if I may say so myself… But now I think I’m just a lit dad.”

Photo: Vaughan Treyvellan

We come to a close on a delicious note, diving into the worlds of six chefs who now count themselves among the Middle East’s leading cuisine contemporaries. From the world-renowned Chef Mohamed Orfali, to the region’s much-loved Chef Izu Ani, Vogue Man Arabia’s latest issue sees each culinary pro donning one of the season’s most exciting timepieces — you’ll spot all the power players here, from Chopard, Hublot and Cartier, to Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet.

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