Thanks to portals such as WordPress, BlogSpot, Facebook and Instagram, regular women throughout the region are now able to make a name for themselves while setting up highly successful blogs and websites in the process.
Blogging first began in a detached pocket of the Internet. It remained a niche that was used as a hobby rather than the massive self-marketing tool it has become today. Now, you can find millions of blogs full of artsy street-style snaps and outfit-of-the-day eye candies to tips for browsing the best boutiques and hidden gems in the area.
Yet, blogging in the Middle East has come with its own set of challenges. Views and opinions range throughout the region from cosmopolitan Dubai, where attitudes are more relaxed to Saudi Arabia, where women have very different expectations. But, regardless of city or state, there is value placed on traditions and modest dressing.
Fashion bloggers in the Middle East aim to be fashionable while remaining conservative and respectful of traditions. For example, some countries require women to wear a hijab by law. Failure to follow suit in public can result in punishment and the models and bloggers are no exceptions, models were recently arrested in Iran for posting a picture of themselves on Instagram without a veil.
Ofcourse,every country throughout the Middle East is culturally and politically different, but here are five things you should know before becoming a Middle Eastern fashion blogger.
Get used to people staring
Regardless of what you are wearing, people are probably going to look at you. Even if you are dressed conservatively, many people are not used to seeing people overdressed and having photos taken. This especially applies to people that come from largely populated and under-developed areas. Staring is very much a common thing in the Middle East and not considered particularly rude.
Be careful when photographing
Family honour is important in the Middle East;this is proven by the importance placed on family gatherings and good gestures like sponsoring orphans. This often makes the men feel as though they need to protect their female family members. This means that they stress the importance of asking permission before taking a picture of someone or posting a photo with someone else in the background. So always check who else is in the frame first, you will especially upset a man if his wife or children are unwillingly captured in the background.
You may have to ask for government permission
In places like Dubai, you need permission from the property owner to shoot in particular areas. Even outside the buildings, the streets around them often belong to the owner of the building or district and will require their permission to shoot. In areas such as Egypt, you require an official permit to be able to use a professional camera on the street and without one you could get arrested. If in doubt, just try and stick to the overall rule of no photos in front of mosques or government buildings.
It is very important to remain respectful to a countries customs and dress code. This means not showing too much skin, try and keep the shoulders and anything above the knee covered up, as well as the cleavage. In countries where dress codes are not enforced, you don’t have to abide by any rules but by not following traditional dress customs you will feel very uncomfortable, people will probably stare and may even make nasty remarks.
In any part of the Middle East, you will find that the locals are of good nature when they feel like you are making an effort to be respectful of their customs, space and time. Always try to be informed, be aware of what is going on around you and be friendly. Show some appreciation to the people who allow you to shoot in their vicinity undisturbed by doing small gestures like buying from the local markets or sitting and speaking with some locals.