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By Titi Gambit

For decades, Saudi Arabia has upheld strict policies against arts and entertainment, but it looks like those hands are now changing.

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First, the ban on cinemas was lifted recently, and now, the country is set to hold its first Arab Fashion Week in decades. The announcement was made by the Arab Fashion Council this month.

The powerful heir to the Saudi empire, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has reportedly been leading a drive to reform the country’s dependence on oil while expanding the private sector and empowering women.

The Arab Fashion Council which is based in Dubai, said via its website, that fashion week would be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October.

The Arab Fashion Week will take place at Riyadh’s eco-friendly Apex Centre, a white honeycomb-like venue designed by the late celebrated Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid.

Arab Fashion Week has been hosted in the past so far exclusively by Gulf fashion capital Dubai.

Dubai will continue to host its own parallel Arab Fashion Week, with the sixth edition slated for May 9 to May 12.

Back in December, the Arab Fashion Council announced that a regional office will be opening in Riyadh and named Saudi Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud as its honorary president.

“The first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh will be more than a world-class event, it is a catalyst through which we believe the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade,” Princess Noura said in a statement on the council’s website.

Now listed as an international fashion week alongside the likes of Paris and Milan, the twice-yearly Arab Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections.

AFP reports that the line-up for the Riyadh event is yet to be revealed and it is still unclear if it will be limited to modest designs as might be expected of a Muslim nation and in accordance with the strict dress code observed in Saudi Arabia.

However, Prince Mohammed has introduced series of reforms over the past months in favour of women.

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