Patrons of The Zay Initiative are an invited group, who due to their public achievements, the exemplification of outstanding leadership and stature in society, can help The Zay Initiative achieve its mission by endorsing the initiative’s credibility thus supporting it to fund acquisition, conservation, exhibition, research and publications programs. Enabling generations young and old to experience the power of sustaining cultural heritage, design & art. Patrons of The Zay Initiative are invited to host simple introductory events as well as The Zay Initiative themed Costume Gala Ball to help raise funds and support.


The Zay Initiative will depend on the unwavering dedication of the public, governmental and business communities to realize its vision for the future. Corporate sponsorship, government grants and public donations will provide The Zay Initiative fulfill its mission by funding acquisition, conservation, exhibition, research and publication programs. Enabling generations young and old to experience the power of sustaining cultural heritage, design & art.


A selection of professional experts in the field who bring unique discipline knowledge and technical skills in order to more effectively augment the The Zay Initiative. Provide scholastic, educational and mentoring advice. Will participate in biannual conferences and present research papers.


Owner of The Tiraz Center, The Widad Qawar home for Arab Dress. The collection includes the most comprehensive number of Palestinian, Jordanian and other Arab costumes. Widad is a leading patron of the preservation and modernization of the art of dress. She is a mentor to writers, journalists, researchers and museums. She succeeded in raising awareness of the value of Arab textile heritage through many international exhibitions; including Bahrain, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Iceland, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. She published several books and articles, received several medals from the government of Jordan, and is a recipient of the Prince Klaus International Award for Culture and Development for “her invaluable contribution to securing global heritage”.


A lifelong supporter of Middle Eastern arts, Mehrez began collecting and archiving Egyptian peasant dresses as a teenager. She holds a master’s degree in Islamic art and runs El Arish, a Sinai-based women’s collective that produces hand-embroidered Bedouin pieces. Passionate in preserving traditional crafts and domestic resources while updating them for contemporary audiences, Shahira is as fierce as ever. Her collection of over 500 dresses, which is the largest in Egypt (and possibly the world), ranges from heavy black wool Bedouin Sinai cloaks to bright cotton Nile Delta prints decorated with ribbon and Siwan dresses finished with mother-of-pearl buttons.


A professional textile and dress historian (Ph.D. Manchester University), who worked as textile archaeologist in the Middle East for many years. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the subject of textiles and dress, and is the main editor and author of the Bloomsbury (London) series Encyclopedia of Embroidery from …. series. The first volume in this series, the Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World (Dartmouth Medal 2017). The second volume, on the embroidery from Central Asia, the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent, is due late 2019. Dr. Vogelsang-Eastwood is currently the director of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden (The Netherlands).


A published author, she received her BA in 1979 as she was teaching at the Girl’s Collage of Education in Riyadh. She obtained her MA in 1983 and, soon after, her PhD in 1988. Both were in clothing and textiles from the Girl’s College of Education. In 1995 she became an associate professor in the department of home economics at the same college. A member of many national & international associations such as the Committee on Heritage in Al Nahda Women’s Welfare Association, the Advisory Committee in the National Museum KSA, the Gulf Council Committee, the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. Awarded the King Salman Prize of Excellence for Research and Studies on The Arabian Peninsula History and recognized as the first Saudi woman to study traditional Saudi costume and textiles.


A well recognized as a leading women expert in Iraq to work in the field of old oriental textiles and carpets. She lectures on old Iraqi textiles and the art of carpet weaving. She curates exhibitions of her own collection of Iraqi textiles, and participates in international conferences on the subject. Published several papers on the topic and co-authored with Widad Kamel Kawar and Caroline Stone The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery in the Arab World “by Gillian Voglsang-Estwood.


A renowned fashion designer specializing in the integration of Arabic art with the best of Haute Couture. Hana is also an anthropologist dedicated in the study Arabic jewelry, traditional Arab costumes. She has been published several times in her field of expertise.



Creative Minds include designers, crafters and talented individuals who insure the practical sustainability of The Zay Initiative’s over all goals. By exploring solutions for contemporary application of traditional elements and crafts inspired by what is preserved in the examples found in The Zay Collection. The members are encouraged to collaborate on ideas and projects, innovating an ode to the past, and a nod to the future.


A UAE designer, in 2011 Sheikha Hind Majid Al Qasimi launched DesignedbyHind, a Sharjah based design company for home accessories and tableware inspired by UAE’s rich heritage and modern sensibilities. Sheikha Hind Al Qasimi is also the Acting Chairman of the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC).


Founder of Gumash Studio, Azza is a UAE-based Textile and Product Designer. Gumash Studio aims at creating a narrative through Middle Eastern heritage which is portrayed in her work. Azza also works on developing traditional crafts in the UAE and Saudi Arabia through collaborative projects, both regionally and internationally.


Azza has a background in law, jewelry design, and gemology; she also founded 2 concept stores in Bahrain previously. As a jeweler, Azza is highly focused on hosting brands that are quality and design oriented. Azza has worked with a number of brands as a regional representative and continues to grow her boutique space to carry a unique selection of fine jewelry designers which appeal to the modern woman in the region who wears who wears her fine jewelry from day to night.



Friends of The Zay Initiative are the ambassadors who build relationships with like-minded culture and art enthusiasts in intimate, behind-the-scenes settings. They provide an important source of support for programming through private events exclusive receptions with curators, designers, and key figures in fashion, heritage and design.