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Lebanese Aid In MENA Fashion Industry

The New York-based Lebanese designer Reem Acra will fulfill her promise to help develop the Middle East’s fashion industry as one of the latest members appointed to the Dubai Council for Design and Fashion. The council announced this week the appointment of Acra, known for her ornate wedding dresses and evening gowns popular among Hollywood celebrities, as well as journalist Ali Jaber, group TV director at MBC, advertising executive Ghassan Harfouche, group CEO of Middle East Communications Network, and public relations specialist Raja Trad, CEO of Leo Burnett and Publicis MENA. The four new members are all Lebanese and will join the council of more than half a dozen other industry leaders from Dubai and the Gulf. Acra, who left Lebanon 30 years ago to pursue a career in design, told an AFP reporter in October that she was planning to help expand the Middle East’s fashion industry. “I am getting involved,” she told AFP. “There is an eagerness in these countries; they want to expand, they want to be part of the fashion scene.” Her vow to help will now be fulfilled as she joins a fashion council formed over the past year and is tasked with making Dubai the region’s hub for design talent.
At the center of that mission is Dubai Design District, or D3, a billion-dollar development project that will collect various arms of the industry into one centralized plot housing studios, hotels and storefronts. The council’s role includes nurturing local talent and entrepreneurship, and supporting creative projects, scholarships and mentorships with international design houses, according to D3’s website. The appointment of four Lebanese fashion and communications leaders has further fulfilled speculation that Dubai’s push to create a regional fashion hub would rely heavily on Lebanon’s wealth of creative talent, which includes major international designers like Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, among others. For three seasons, young Lebanese designers have made up the biggest national contingent at Fashion Forward, Dubai’s seasonal runway shows. “A number of Lebanese figures have been sought after by the Dubai government to help develop important sectors such as media, aviation, advertising, education and hospitality, among others,” said the press release announcing the design council’s new appointments. Based on comments a year ago, Acra seems optimistic that the region would succeed in building a viable fashion scene. “They are at the very beginning and fashion does not get established in two days, fashion takes time,” she said. “There will be a MENA fashion industry.”