Dr Reem El Mutwalli’s vision for The Zay Initiative has always been to take the history and heritage from the UAE and wider Arab world into the future. To create a platform where the fashion, garments, and embellishments from the past can serve as a foundation for future generations of designers, curators, students and visionaries to build a new legacy.

This week we made great strides towards our goals when we participated in The Retail Summit™ at Atlantis The Palm, in Dubai. The aim of the summit and its main partner, Dubai Chamber of Commerce was to bring together world leaders in fashion, hospitality, retail, and technology to discuss how to innovate, embrace digital, and build agile organisations, allowing all of us to thrive in a modern, technology-enhanced environment.

Dr Reem El Mutwalli at The Retail Summit at Atlantis The Palm

Although this summit was aimed at retail and not conservation, we found it immensely insightful and stimulating, and we are brimming with new ideas on how to not only preserve history and heritage but how to make it alive, interactive, educational and future-forward.

Dr Reem El Mutwalli with influencer @zozokahramana

The Zay Initiative’s aim to promote an understanding of the culture of this region, to build public awareness and appreciation for our heritage, and for reaching like-minded people and institutions gained significant momentum over the past two days.

Keynote speaker and Dubai business woman Asil Attar visiting the Zay Initiative stand

Our founder, Dr Reem, had the opportunity to build new relationships with influencers in other industries, business leaders, and policymakers. We continue to expand our circles of friends, collaborators and creative minds, with new opportunities for growth and development in both our collection and our educational reach.

Dr Reem el Mutwalli at the Zay Initiative stand at The Retail Summit

The Retail Summit™ partnered with the IFDC Pret A Cover™ Buyers Lane 2019, A Modest Revolution, where we had the chance to share exhibition space with several local and international modest fashion labels in the Market Place. It was exciting and encouraging to see how the heritage we work to preserve, is being reinterpreted and applied in a future-forward fashion that is making a global impact. In the words of IFDC chairwoman, Alia Khan, “Talking about modesty does not mean we stop living. In fact, we live larger.”

Blogger @farahyasmine meeting the Zay Initiative model at the Retail Summit

After listening to industry experts discuss the future of retail, the role of new technology and e-commerce, and the economic power of Gen Z – the next generation of consumers – we now have to ask ourselves a few hard questions about our role in the shaping of future fashion retail:

Do non-profit initiatives like The Zay Initiative have a role to play in the commercial and retail landscape?

Can our vision of sustaining the legacy of historic dress, and our role as guardians of cultural artefacts help to bring connectivity between cultures, people and generations?  And if so, how does it translate into the business world?

In an increasingly virtual world, can The Zay Initiative, who are among the last bastions of cultural authenticity and fashion heritage preservation, still make an impact?

The Zay Initiative model in pure gold adorned UAE Thawb Riyasi gifted to the Zay Collection by Sha. Maryiam bint Saeed Al Nahyan

These are all exciting questions and ideas to ponder, experiment with and initiate in future. It is only a few weeks into 2019 and we are excited to develop our newly forged relationships with plans for future collaborations, exhibitions and partnerships.

Businesswoman Jo Malone meeting the Zay Initiative model

We welcome input from you, our readers, and if you have an idea, opinion or solution to offer, we would love to hear from you. If your vision aligns with ours and you are interested in possible collaborations, please make contact.