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.
- Dr. MICHELE BAMBLING (USA)
Founding Creative Director
An art historian and scholar, Bambling received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in art history and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Bambling also taught art history and museum studies at Zayed University and other institutions in Abu Dhabi (UAE). She is the Creative Director of the Lest We Forget initiative, launched under the auspices of the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (2017). Dr. Bambling was curator of the National Pavilion of the UAE, Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2015).
- Dr. LAYLA AL BASSAM (KSA)
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.
- WIDAD KAMEL KAWAR (PALESTINE/JORDAN)
A renowned expert, 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”.
- ALIA KHAN (PAKISTAN)
A visionary woman, founder and chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), an organization established for the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide. IFDC aligns itself with leading and budding mainstream and modest fashion and design brands, influencers, government organizations, institutions, corporations, media, global conferences, events, and fashion weeks to ensure a powerful, sustainable and supportive presence.
- SHAHIRA MEHREZ (EGYPT)
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.
- PATRICIA MILLNS FRSA (UK)
An artist, advisor and mentor, Millns holds a BA Honours Fine Art and MA Art and Design History. With her studio based in Middle East for over 38 years her practice is based on identity and cultural significance defined through clothing, adornment and olfactory heritage of the region. She is an elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Art London, Advisory board American Univerisity of Dubai (AUD), and member of IAPA, UNESCO.
She has represented the UK at United Nations (UN) New York Women of the World, Sharjah and Cairo Biennials. Public Collections include United Nations UNIFEM, British Museum, British council, British Common wealth Society, and the Windsor, Bulgari, Salsali and Sainsbury collections and National Collections regionally Her works are in private collections locally and internationally.
- LAILA Y. PIO (IRAQ)
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.
- JANET RADY (UK)
A specialist in contemporary art from the Middle East, with thirty years’ experience of the International art market including leading auction houses and major commercial galleries. Gallery director and curator Janet Rady is based between London and the United Arab Emirates. She holds a masters degree in Islamic art history from the university of Melbourne and a BA from SOAS, University of London. She is a member of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Advisory Council of CARAVAN. Janet is also the Hon Lectures Secretary for the Iran Society, on the Editorial Board of the Middle East in London magazine, a nominator for the V&A Jameel Prize, curator for the Benetton Foundation Imago Mundi Project and a Judge for the BEHNAM.
- MAJORIE RANSOM (USA)
A U.S. diplomat who lived in Yemen in a thirty-year career that took her also to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, and Egypt. She and David Ransom, her late husband, were the first Arabic-speaking tandem couple in the Foreign Service. Over the course of their career, they assembled a collection of more than 2000 pieces of Middle Eastern silver jewelry. She lectured widely in the US about the traditional jewelry of the Middle East and spoke about Yemeni silver jewelry. She authored Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Yemeni Regional Jewelry, and plans a second volume on silversmiths.
- HANA SADIQ (IRAQ/JORDAN)
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.
- KERRY TAYLOR (UK)
A consultant to leading auction houses and sits on the UK government export review board. She started at Sotheby’s 1979 and soon established her own leading Kerry Taylor Auctions 2003 specializing in vintage fashion, antique costumes & textiles. She regularly works with major museums, lecturing assisting with evaluations and assisting with funding applications. She authored both ‘Vintage Fashion & Couture, from poiret to McQueen’ and ‘Galliano: Spectacular Fashion’.
- SIGRID VAN ROODE (Netherland)
A jewellery historian and archaeologist, holds an MA in Egyptology. She studies jewellery as material expression of values, customs and traditions. She feels research and outreach are equally important and creates the latter through an online resource www.bedouinsilver.com, curating exhibitions, documenting private and museum collections and giving talks and workshops. She has authored numerous articles and several books, of which Desert Silver is widely acclaimed as one of the most accessible introductions to jewellery from the Arab world. An avid contributor to the Zay Initiative’s monthly blog.
- Dr. GILLIAN VOGELSANG (NETHERLANDS)
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).