The Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Vogue Man Arabia stars two regional heroes who claimed the spotlight with their outstanding performances at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui and Qatari high jumper Mutaz Barshim brought home gold, sending a message of determination, hard work, and sportsmanship to their fans.
Eighteen-year-old Hafnaoui stunned the world by winning the gold medal in the 400m freestyle. Photographed in Tunisia by Bachire Tayachi, Hafnaoui opens up about his journey and his pride in being an Arab athlete. “This is my identity,” he shares. “I want to have more achievements for my country and the whole Arab world.” Qatari high jumper Barshim, who was shot in Paris by Matthieu Delbreuve, had reached heights he never before thought possible by holding the Asian record and registering the second highest jump in history. Then he captured the hearts of sports fans everywhere by sharing the Olympic gold medal with Italian Gianmarco Tamberi. “There is rivalry as that’s what we do, but we know that when that rivalry finishes, there is just friendship and love,” he says.
Another rising star featured in this issue is Saudi Olympic karateka Tarek Hamdi, who brought home a silver medal. In a candid interview, he reflects on that Tokyo Games final and receiving a surprise call from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman afterwards. ”Karate teaches great values and life lessons – most importantly, respect,” he says.
On the style and features pages, we meet multi-hyphenate actor-singer-fashion designer Rawkan Binbella, who shares his latest news and upcoming projects. Binbella puts his success down to hard work: “It’s about not being afraid of being yourself and knowing that you don’t have to be perfect, as long as you are searching for self-improvement.” He also encourages Saudi youth to go towards more creative career paths, saying, “Any seed you plant right now, the country is watering. We’re being celebrated. If you’re an artist, they’re looking for you. If you have something to give, if you have something to provide, then all you need to do is put it out there. You just create and there will be the community that backs you up; there will be opportunities for you.”
In fashion, we speak to Kim Jones, creative director of Dior Men, who is leading the charge of the menswear metamorphosis, welcoming splashes of color and sparkle to impeccable tailoring. “Masculinity cannot be reduced to wearing only black, blue, or gray,” he says in our exclusive interview. “It is important to mix and play with a colorful palette. Colors cannot be divided by gender.”
The issue also steps inside the rarefied circle of men’s couture and how it’s staging a comeback. From Jean Paul Gaultier in 1997 presenting men’s looks at his debut couture show to the latest runways of Georges Hobeika, Valentino, Balenciaga, and Azzaro, men’s haute couture is experiencing a rise in popularity and demand. “Couture is for people,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino creative director, of his couture showing for SS21. “I don’t care about gendered fashion. It’s an inspiration which is fluid, no-boundaries: a trench coat is for men and women.”
The Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Vogue Man Arabia also explores Saudi’s emerging football scene, after the Kingdom announced a seven-pillar plan to transform the sport to elite level. “Football represents a source of great passion for Saudis in general, as it promotes diversity and inclusion in our society,” HRH Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, minister of sports and president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, remarks. “We want to be genuine contenders on the global stage to reflect the undeniable talent of our youth along with the country’s love for the game.” In Saudi, the team spirit is building to win.