Peace. It’s an oft-repeated refrain at this time of year, yet in December 2015 the word carries extra resonance, which is why we have chosen to communicate it, intertwining Arabic and English, on the cover of this issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. In the wake of the first annual Martyrs’ Day, the UAE has shown nobility and grace, paying respect to Emirati soldiers who gave their lives in service of the country. And as the world ushers in the festive season, celebrations are marred with the knowledge that many are facing unimaginable hardship as they flee persecution in their homeland. Attacks on cities such as Beirut and Paris – the very centres of culture, beauty and creativity that fuel the fashion industry both regionally and internationally – have rocked the world to its core. It can be hard to know how to respond to such atrocities, but Zainab Salbi, the humanitarian who founded the charitable organisation Women For Women International and whose new television show Nida’a is giving women in the Middle East a public platform, says it’s time to take control of the narrative. Our December issue features The Voice of Arabia, in which Zainab tells Bazaar, “People in the Middle East need to go beyond defensiveness and saying that those who commit terror attacks do not represent our religion or culture. We need to take the reins of discussion and represent ourselves and our values, not in terms of who we are not, but in terms of who we are, what we stand for and what we believe in.”
Echoing the message of inner integrity, this issue’s cover star, the actress Sonam Kapoor, makes no apology for enjoying a life of privilege – her father is the legendary actor Anil Kapoor – yet she is able to rise above others’ judgement and forge a path to success on her own terms. “I just need to go to sleep at night and feel good about myself,” she tells Bazaar in our cover story, Warrior Princess.
Another strong woman proving her mettle in the issue is Sienna Miller, the British actress whose recent string of critically acclaimed films in the US has prompted a career resurgence. As she steps into the limelight the second time around, Sienna is a very different woman to the breakthrough star known for her bohemian style and colourful love life who dominated celebrity gossip pages a decade ago. Now, Sienna is using her influence to fight for equal pay in Hollywood, telling Bazaar that women, “have got to be in control. Often, we’re exploited, our sexuality is relied on to promote a film and I think that comes at much more of a cost than we allow ourselves to believe. I’ve had it with all of that. Being dignified is better for your soul.”
Following the old adage that it’s better to give than to receive has similar soul-enhancing benefits and Bazaar’s festive gift guide; a treasure trove of wonderful finds that will delight everyone in your life. The ultimate present – at least in my book – is always jewellery. And in the issue we pay tribute to three Emirati jewellery designers and the women who inspire their creations. Go on, shine from within.