It's a season for new beginnings...

Marhaba <<First Name>>

From wearing a mask to social distancing, indeed times are strange. But it's these strange times that force us to reflect on the things that are important to each of us individually, like using nature as a springboard to inspire our imagination and to appreciate the things we take for granted.  
Try to view these times as a witnesser to historical changes - from fashion to customs. However, as in physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  So, we dipped low and it's time to dust our selves up and gear up for the climb to a new normal.
Here at the Zay initiative, we are here for you to stimulate your mind and colour your soul with design and history.

Ma’a Salama

Dr Nadia Diab
The Zay Initiative Trustee
***We are excited to announce our new and upcoming Webinar Series!***

How to tell the world your story without saying a word

Introducing our webinar series hosted by our founder Dr Reem el Mutwalli.

In fashion, the word 'dress' can encompass adornments, makeup, wigs, tattoos, piercings, and all forms of individual self-expression. Fashion consciously or subconsciously tells stories and makes statements as it reflects trends at various times and places. It chronicles past socio-economic and cultural exchange as well as expresses the newest creations of designers, technologists, engineers, and artisans. 

We present a series of live webinars featuring our experts and members of The Zay Initiative’s advisory board. For more detail and to register, visit our website or contact Emma Farmer.

***More news about our exciting line-up of guests soon!***
Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion Webinar

Advisory Ensemble 

We are delighted to welcome a new member to our circle of esteemed advisors. 

Sigrid van Roode

A jewellery historian and archaeologist, Sigrid holds an MA in Egyptology. She studies jewellery as a material expression of values, customs and traditions. She feels research and outreach are equally important and creates the latter through an online resource, curating exhibitions, documenting private and museum collections and giving talks and workshops.

She has authored numerous articles and several books, of which Desert Silver is widely acclaimed as one of the most accessible introductions to the jewellery from the Arab world.

She is the jewellery contributor to the Zay Initiative’s monthly blog and she will also be the first guest on our new Webinar series.

On the blog this month

In the sixth edition of jewellery historian Sigrid van Roode's series on Bedouin Jewellery, she looks at the role perfume plays in Arab jewellery and dress.   
Textile writer, Ansie van der Walt tells the story of the women, the clothes, and the artist behind the iconic Sofa Series images.


Scent is the invisible part of costume and jewellery. It accompanies key transition moments that form rites de passages in life, from birth festivities to funerary rites, and is also closely related to honour, prestige and hospitality.


By continuously collaborating with artists, designers, scholars and institutions, old narratives are kept alive and intercultural dialogue is encouraged. This highlights our shared humanity, and it inspires us to create a sustainable future heritage.

Next month on the blog

We will look back in history and forward towards the future -  Sigrid van Roode will show us how we can follow history through jewellery, and we will explore how the DIDI design students are influenced by their collaboration with The Zay Initiative.

The Sofa Series 

Over the past two months, we introduced two of the four Sofa Series images to you. To learn the full story and to see the images in their full glory, read this month's blog post where we delve into the history and meaning of all the images.

The Sofa Series consists of four images, in different formats, depicting a collection of Arab dress and adornment representing the stories of significant UAE women artfully captured by Issa Saleh Al Kindy. With this series, The Zay Initiative aims to celebrate the tangible and intangible heritage of UAE women ensuring their voices and their heritage transcends time.


Limited edition prints of these images are available in different formats and sizes to be acquired by art collectors, cultural and heritage connoisseurs, institutions, and corporations interested in investing in, and supporting UAE art, fashion and heritage. Acquisition details are available here. For enquiries, contact our Strategic Advisor, Emma Farmer at

In the media

Dr Reem el Mutwalli spoke with Huda al Hashmi from Umm al Quwain Youth Council, on the role of the Zay initiative in collecting, documenting and preserving tangible and intangible UAE & Arab traditional Culture.

Links to all our media coverage can be found on our website.

Culture is so much more than clothes

"It is a collection of memories, more than just a pastry."

Dr Reem el Mutwalli carries on an ancient Iraqi food tradition from her kitchen in Dubai -kleicha, or date cookies. Fragrant with rosewater and nigella seed and stuffed with dates or nuts, kleicha speak to Iraqi heritage and holiday customs.

Here she shares her family's Eid al-Fitr tradition with Michele Bambling and Rebecca Fenton in The Smithsonian Museum's blog and magazine
Kleicha is a deeply traditional treat, reaching back to ancient Babylonia.
Ma'a Salama
The Zay Team
The Zay Initiative
Copyright © 2020 The Zay Initiative, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.