Abeer Al Suwaidi Joins Abu Dhabi Party For Final Volvo Ocean Race Send-Off


Ahead of her international debut, established Emirati fashion pioneer, Abeer Al Suwaidi, has promised to make waves at next month’s International Design Collective Fashion Show in Galway, Ireland. The haute couture event, taking place July 6, forms part of the celebrations for the end of the Volvo Ocean Race – the gruelling, nine-month round-the-world sailing odyssey.

Best known for her trendsetting work with abayas, Al Suwaidi has transformed the traditional Arabian dress coat into a contemporary art form. The founder of USH, the region’s first and largest, multiple-brand abaya store, Al Suwaidi’s creations have been hailed as demonstrating unwavering respect for her culture and she has been praised for her personal commitment to promoting home-grown talent.

As Al Suwaidi prepares to travel to Galway - as part of an Abu Dhabi contingent celebrating the emirate-backed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team’s completion of the 39,000 nautical mile race, the first Arabian entry to achieve the feat since the competition began in 1973 – the fashionista says she’s relishing the chance to present her intricate designs to an international audience.

“I’ve been very selective about my first international venue. Although I have been invited to participate in several global fashion events, I’ve always declined. Having the chance to represent Abu Dhabi and my country, however, was something I could not refuse,” said the mother-of-three, who hopes to revolutionise Western perceptions of traditional Emirati clothing.  

“I’m happy to be pushing the boundaries of fashion and producing bold pieces that demonstrate how a traditional garment like the abaya can be very modern, precious and unique. I’m confident I can help shake international perceptions of the abaya; I hope to educate people that this garment can appeal to anyone. It can be a fashion statement, just like any other classic piece of clothing.

“I have always felt that fashion is a common language that crosses all cultural boundaries. Fashion is an international medium that speaks to everyone – it is truly universal. As a ‘cultural ambassador’, I am very excited to promote our country's rich culture and heritage through fashion, using the abaya as a canvas to communicate our local culture and reflect the duality of tradition and heritage with a modern flavour.”

Hosted by Irish beauty and Hollywood actress, Victoria Smurfit, the International Design Collective Fashion Show will feature by top designers from the 10 host countries of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Irish designers featuring in the show include Louise Kennedy, Natalie B Coleman, Heidi Higgins and Mark T. Burke Millinery, while fashionistas from New Zealand, South Africa, the UAE, Spain, Portugal and the USA will also participate. To mark her involvement and dazzle crowds, Al Suwaidi has designed an exclusive new creation for the show.

“I have designed unique pieces especially for the occasion. As usual, my vision is to produce cutting-edge designs that express my creativity and deliver my brand promise: that any lady wearing my pieces will enjoy a luxury garment made from only the finest materials and crafted with love and passion. I’m confident the audience will appreciate the abaya as a fashion piece that can match international haute couture standards in terms of creativity, quality, and uniqueness,” she added.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which backs Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and is Official Destination Partner of the Volvo Ocean Race, is rolling out the red carpet in Galway as it plans to woo visitors to the emirate.

A wealth of cultural attractions will run throughout the Galway stopover, which ends 7th July with the final points-scoring In-Port Race, including henna artists, falconers, Arabic calligraphers and daily performances by an Al-Ayala dance troupe, a traditional collective of performers who draw on centuries of heritage for their routines.

In addition, TCA Abu Dhabi and its stakeholders will run competitions to win VIP trips to the emirate, including a chance to attend November’s 2012 Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.