We're very excited to announce the first of our regular Tuesday Takeovers that will be taking place over the next few weeks. Follow Selvedge on Instagram using the handle @SelvedgeMagazine to find out more about the first of our collaborators, The Zay Initiative.
Image: Qabeh, A square breast piece, often cut separately, embellished in cross stitch.
The Zay Initiative is a non-profit, UK registered organisation that aims to preserve, collect, document, and conserve Arab historic dress and adornment and their stories. Through their work, events, and web content they open a global cross-cultural dialogue and educate others on the art of Arab dress.
Over the past few decades, Founder of The Zay Initiative, Dr Reem El Mutwall, has invested in a collection of historical dress. The core of the collection is based on UAE traditional dress, with additional key examples from Yemen, Morocco, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab cultures. The Zay Initiative will add new acquisitions in time while engaging with and promoting existing collections to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange.
Image: Portrait of Dr Reem El Mutwalli. Photographed by Issa Al Kindy, Dubai, UAE 2018
In addition to seasonal exhibitions and museum loans, the collection can be viewed via the online archive. The first of its kind in the region, the digital collection is enriched by a pop-up glossary of regional and historical dress terminology in both Arabic and English. The Zay Initiative believe that each item in their collection conveys a valuable story and needs to be preserved for future generations. This growing digital archive contains over 100 pieces so far, and the splendour, imagery and historical information of the artefacts are available to view for free.
Image: Bū ghwanāt. Modelled by @maenoaf, photographed by @waleedshah
As the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in restrictions to travel and live events, The Zay Intiative’s desire to share access to their collection led to a series of webinars called ‘Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion’ comprising conversations between Dr Reem El Mutwalli and speakers from all over the world focusing on dress, culture, and heritage of the Arab World.
The Zay Initiative aims to empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life. To join their community become a Friend of the Zay Initiative.