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The Zay Initiative aims to promote an understanding of the evolution of regional culture, building up public awareness and appreciation of this unique heritage, reaching out to like-minded individuals and institutions nationally, regionally and globally. In addition to seasonal or touring exhibitions and museum loans, the collection is accessed through the digital archive (Collection), first of its kind on a regional level, fortified by a pop-up glossary in both Arabic and English. The Zay Initiative aims to empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.
The Five Pillars of the Zay Initiative are: • Collect, document and conserve Arab dress and adornment.• Present and contextualise through a digital archive and blog.• Encourage intercultural dialogue to highlight our shared humanity.• Inspire and educate designers to create for a sustainable future.• Empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.
We look forward to welcoming you to this dialogue.
OUR GUEST: DR. ANDREA RUGH
Andrea is a writer and consultant on development projects. During her career she worked on assistance projects in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. She was a research associate at Harvard for a number of years as well as working for USAID, UNICEF, Save the Children and other groups. Andrea received a B.A in Psychology from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from American University in Washington, DC. She developed an interest in the UAE when her husband was posted to Abu Dhabi as the American Ambassador from 1992-95.
Over 40 years living and working in the Middle East, she researched and wrote 12 books on the region including Reveal and Conceal: Dress in Contemporary Egypt (1986), The Political Culture of Leadership in the UAE (2007), Simple Gestures: A Cultural Journey into the Middle East (2009) and most recently Egyptian Advice Columnists (2019) and Childrearing in a Syrian Village (2021). She is currently retired and living in Hingham, Massachusetts.
OUR FOUNDER: DR. REEM EL MUTWALLI
Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, is a published author, lead curator and public speaker. With over 30 years of experience, she is an expert consultant in Islamic art and architecture, interior design, historic dress and UAE heritage.
She is also the founder of the Zay Initiative. A non-profit UK registered initiative advancing the preservation of cultural heritage, through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. Our goal is to empower and sustain global cross-cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds.
OUR HOST: EMMA FARMER
Raised in the Middle East, educated in the UK, Emma has a profound understanding and passion for bridging gaps regarding culture and business, whilst navigating geo-political environments.
Emma is a highly motivated, award-winning, experienced project leader, communications and business development professional with over 15 years’ experience.
As the Festival Director of Dubai Lynx from 2011 to 2016, she strategically grew the event and left a legacy, building the foundation that sees the festival thrive across multiple markets today. Now an entrepreneur and mother, Emma set up ‘Chameleon’, helping businesses reach their potential whilst ensuring they do better for good.