ABU DHABI- The Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MoFAIC, in partnership with the Zay Initiative, has announced the digital talk series "Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion." The Zay Initiative is a UK-registered non-profit focused on advancing the preservation of cultural heritage through the collection, documentation, and digital archiving of Arab historical dress, adornment, and associated stories. The Zay Initiative aims to promote an understanding of the evolution of regional Arab culture and an appreciation for this unique heritage. The entity is committed to intercultural dialogue and to the empowerment of women and their stories both regionally and globally.

Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, author of the book Sultani, Traditions Renewed; Changes in Women’s Traditional Dress in the UAE during the reign of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan 1966-2004, and cultural heritage expert, designer, and historian, established the Zay Initiative in 2018. The growing collection features over 1,350 historic pieces predominantly from the UAE as well as from Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, and Lebanon.

Under Dr. El Mutwalli’s leadership, the Zay Initiative is building a digital archive and index of terminology. Dr. El Mutwalli describes the Zay Initiative as an ode to the past and a nod to the future.

"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," said Dr. El Mutwalli.

Each month, an Emirati diplomat will join Dr. El Mutwalli and a guest to continue the Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion series.

Rawdha Al Otaiba, Deputy Head of Mission at the UAE Embassy in London, will be joining Dr. El Mutwalli on September 22. Formerly, Al Otaiba served as the Director of the American Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, MoFAIC, during which time she was responsible for bilateral relations between the UAE and the Americas.

She has also served in the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change, DECC, as the head of the IRENA section, liaising with the International Renewable Energy Agency and overseeing the UAE’s IRENA host country affairs. She also represented the UAE as an active member state to IRENA and helped lead the UAE’s negotiating team for Rio+20.

Additionally, she was a member of the team working on the development of the UAE’s sustainability-related foreign and domestic policy. In 2009, she joined the UAE task force for its IRENA campaign, which ended successfully with the UAE hosting the agency.


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