With thanks to our creative advisors from across the world
Dr. Michelle Bambling (USA)
An art historian and scholar, Michele received a PhD from Columbia University in art history and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She also taught art history and museum studies at Zayed University and other institutions in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
Michele is the Creative Director of the Lest We Forget initiative, launched under the auspices of the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (2017). She was also curator of the National Pavilion of the UAE, Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2015).
Dr. Layla Al Bassam (Saudi Arabia)
A published author, Dr. Layla 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 her PhD in 1988, both 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 recognised as the first Saudi woman to study traditional Saudi costume and textiles.
Azza Al Hujairi (Bahrain)
Azza has a background in law, jewellery design, and gemology and previously founded two concept stores in Bahrain. As a jeweller, Azza is highly focused on hosting brands that are both quality and design orientated. She 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 designers which appeal to the modern woman in the region. Azza sits on the board of the Bahrain Gold and Pearl Association.
Widad Kamel Kawar (Palestine/Jordan)
A renowned Arab clothing expert and owner of The Tiraz Center, The Widad Kawar 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 in Bahrain, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Iceland, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.
She has published several books and articles and received several medals from the government of Jordan. Widad is also a recipient of the Prince Klaus International Award for Culture and Development for “her invaluable contribution to securing global heritage”.
Alia Khan (United Kingdom/Pakistan)
A visionary, founder and chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), an organisation established for the development of the Islamic fashion and design industry worldwide.
The IFDC aligns itself with leading and budding mainstream modest fashion and design brands, influencers, government organisations, 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. She is passionate about preserving traditional crafts and domestic resources while updating them for contemporary audiences. 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 (United Kingdom)
An artist, advisor and mentor, Millns holds a BA Honours in Fine Art and an MA in 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 the clothing, adornment and olfactory heritage of the region. She is an elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Art London, Advisory board American University 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)
Well recognised as a leading expert in Iraq to work in the field of historical oriental textiles and carpets. Laila lectures on the history of Iraqi textiles and the art of carpet weaving and curates exhibitions of her own collection of Iraqi textiles while also participating in international conferences on the subject.
She has published several papers and co-authored with Widad Kamel Kawar and Caroline Stone The “Encyclopedia of Embroidery in the Arab World “by Gillian Voglsang-Estwood.
Shaikha Hind Majid Al Qassimi (United Arab Emirates)
A UAE designer, Sheikha Hind Majid Al Qasimi is the founder of DesignedbyHind, a Sharjah based design company for home accessories and tableware inspired by the Emirates’ rich heritage and modern sensibilities.
Sheikha Hind Al Qasimi is also the Acting Chairman of the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC).
Janet Rady (United Kingdom)
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.
Majorie, and her late husband David Ransom, were the first Arabic-speaking tandem couple in the Foreign Service. Over the course of their career, they assembled a collection of more than 2,000 pieces of Middle Eastern silver jewellery.
She lectured widely in the US about the traditional jewellery of Yemen and the Middle East. She authored Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Yemeni Regional Jewelry, and plans a second volume on the subject of silversmiths.
Hana Sadiq (Iraq/Jordan)
Azza Al Sharif (Saudi Arabia)
Founder of Gumash Studio, Azza is a Textile and Product Designer based in the United Arab Emirates. Gumash Studio is a multidisciplinary platform that takes inspiration and references from traditional crafts and narratives in the Middle East, creating products that are timeless, and most importantly narrate a beautiful story from our rich culture.
Azza also works on developing traditional crafts in the UAE and Saudi Arabia through collaborative projects, both regionally and internationally.
Kerry Taylor (United Kingdom)
A consultant to leading auction houses who sits on the UK government export review board. Kerry started at Sotheby’s 1979 and soon established her own company, Kerry Taylor Auctions, in 2003 specialising in vintage fashion, antique costumes and 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 (Netherlands)
A jewellery historian and archaeologist who holds an MA in Egyptology. Sigrid studies jewellery as a 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.
Sigrid 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. She is nn avid contributor to the Zay Initiative’s monthly blog.
Dr. Gillian Vogelsang (Netherlands)
A professional textile and dress historian with a PhD from Manchester University who worked as textile archaeologist in the Middle East for many years.
Gillian 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. The first volume in this series is 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 in the Netherlands.