New relationships in a time of isolation

Marhaba <<First Name>>

What a time to be alive!

As we reflect, pay homage, and count our blessings. It is incumbent for us to stay strong, safe and alert.

Behind the scenes at The Zay Initiative, we are a group of women who are all facing, like I’m sure you all are, a multitude of different issues that life has thrown our way. We are all learning how to adapt, how to deal with our loved ones in confinement, how to make use of our time, and most importantly how to deal with ourselves, both mentally and physically.

In these uncertain times, we at The Zay Initiative believe it is ever more important to reach out and to connect with people, be it your neighbour, your colleague or your family. It is ever more important to engage different communities and bring cultures together. Culturally connecting with like-minded individuals and societies is an important and vital step to bridging gaps and to positively impact society. What we do today impacts the way we will live tomorrow.

In this manner, we are happy to announce our participation in the digital China Fashion Week which are taking place this week from 1 to 7 May. In collaboration with @HalaChina, @ChinaFashionAssociation and @uaeembassychina, we plan to showcase, alongside emerging UAE talent, pieces that we hope would bring joy and inspiration to a new audience.

We are excited to play a small role in introducing Middle Eastern Culture to a Chinese audience and to promote cultural exchange of design to a new region of creators and sustainable dreamers.

Ma’a Salama

Mae Noaf Al Kalmachi
The Zay Initiative Trustee

The Sofa Series 

The Sofa Series consists of four images artfully created by renowned photographer Issa Saleh Al Kindy.

With this series The Zay Initiative aims to celebrate the tangible and intangible UAE heritage by combining our unique collection with the stories of significant UAE women, captured by a talented artist, to ensure that their voices and their heritage transcend time.

Last month we shared the story of the first image, Telli Symphony. This month we're looking at the second image:

Top Right: Iconic Memorandum

A visual Homage to the memory of an icon - the late shaikh Zayid bin Sultan al Nahyan.

It began with a hand-painted silk portrait (circa 2011) by Shaikha Alyaziah bint Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, an aspiring artist on her own merit. The thawb and kandurah ensemble was then designed by her mother Shaikha Fakhira bint Saeed al Nahyan to compliment the artwork. The embroidery work and tailoring were carried out by skilled artisans.

It is a unique example of the amalgamation of two traditional articles of dress, the thawb and kandurah, into one as it is the norm nowadays. When worn together the kandurah has evolved into the inner slip of the thawb and the two are attached at the neckline.

This garment was worn on many occasions by Shaikha Alyaziah and eventually gifted to the Zay Initiative Collection, capturing her avid support for our historical endeavours. The dress was first exhibited at a private exhibition accompanying the launch of the first edition of
the book; Sultani, Traditions Renewed, Changes in women’s traditional dress In the United Arab Emirates during the reign of the late Shaikh Zayid Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 1966-2004 at the palace of Shaikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan in 2011.

Limited-edition prints are available for sale - contact Emma Farmer for more information.

Advisory Ensemble 

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

Patricia Millns

An artist, advisor and mentor, Millns holds a BA Honours Fine Art and MA Art and Design History. With her studio based in the Middle East for over 38 years, her practice is based on identity and cultural significance defined through clothing, adornment and olfactory heritage of the region. She is an elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Art London, Advisory board American Univerisity of Dubai (AUD), and member of IAPA, UNESCO.

On the blog this month

In the fifth edition of jewellery historian Sigrid van Roode's series on Bedouin Jewellery, she is focusing on jewellery as an extra investment and savings account.  
Textile writer, Ansie van der Walt is looking towards Africa this month, where she interviews Dina Yassin, one of the founders of Africa Fashion Week Middle East (AFWME).

Wear your fortune

Jewellery is often regarded as an extra investment and savings account. Let’s look at these financial aspects of jewellery!

Future heritage with AFWME

Connecting Africa and the Middle East by celebrating diversity and the endless connection between the regions through fashion, art and culture. We sat down with one of AFWME's founders, Dina Yassin to discuss how we as protectors of heritage and they as trailblazers for the future can work together to build a new 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.

In the media

The Zay Initiative has been featured in the following publications this month:
The National
Xpedition Magazine
China News


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


Although the current situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has put most of our face-to-face event plans are on hold we are excited to be involved in a few very exciting digital events.

China Fashion Week

In this manner, we are happy to announce our participation in the digital China Fashion Week which took place from the 1 – 7 May.

In collaboration with @HalaChina, @ChinaFashionAssociation and @uaeembassychina, we showcased, alongside emerging UAE talent, some of the collection through the sofa series that we hope would bring joy and inspiration to a new audience.
Help sustain the legacy

Arab Dress Collection Directory

When you signed up for this newsletter you received a link to our directory. It has come to our attention that some of our new subscribers could not access the directory as we had a broken link. In case you missed it, here it is again:
Ma'a Salama
The Zay Team
The Zay Initiative
Copyright © 2020 The Zay Initiative, All rights reserved.

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