A diametric reality lies in wait for our November cover shoot, as a 50-strong team decamp to a desert expanse outside of Abu Dhabi. It’s an other-worldly setting – caught somewhere between Mad Max’s apocalyptic wasteland and the splendour of Lawrence of Arabia’s undulating drifts – where rugged fossilised dunes protrude from desert plains and shifting sands whip into a rhythmical frenzy. Enveloped in its own raw beauty, the landscape is poetic, dramatic and unassuming all at once. An intoxicating, contrasted play on the landscape increases tenfold with the arrival of Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri. Resplendent in a frothy blood-red Dolce & Gabbana gown and Cartier jewels, the stark, harsh backdrop immediately softens.
While the mercury has settled at 37 degrees, and the air is arid and dusty, Yasmine seems at home, undaunted by the elements. She clambers across rocks, kicks off her shoes to run across dunes... She’s fully committed. As we walk back to the trailer after one particular shot that required Yasmine to languish on a ‘liquid river’ running through the rocks, I ask whether her enthusiasm is faltering under the midday sun. She laughs and says no, explaining that when she woke up in the morning, she made a conscious decision to take pleasure in today, to try everything asked of her and bring positivity to the shoot.
Throughout the day, her outlook on life and attitude towards authenticity was omnipresent – read on for highlights from our conversation with the rising Egyptian star.
Juste un Clou necklace, Dhs344,000; Panthère de Cartier watch with pink and gold diamonds both Cartier. Dress, Dhs,25,400, Alexander McQueen.
On knowing herself from an early age…
“I was never bullied because if someone tried to do that, I would have eaten them…I was thriving the whole time. I was looking forward to tomorrow. I was visualising a lot. I would go to swim training, I’d put on my headphones and listen to J.Lo, and I’d visualise living somewhere else, succeeding, booming, I was limitless. I looked forward to the future. I had an amazing childhood but I just looked forward to a better tomorrow. I just loved the idea of progress.”
On staying authentic…
“Sometimes I ask what I would do for my dreams. You’ve seen what happens in Hollywood. All the actresses have been harassed. But I have my principles and that role can go to hell. We think [Hollywood] is liberal but if I go there with my principles it won’t take me anywhere. I need to be real. And so, in the Middle East, I’m very dominant, very demanding and I’ve said ‘no’ since day one when nobody knew me. But you know what, it got me to a place where people have respect. That voice is in me.”
Juste un Clou earrings in yellow gold and diamonds, Dhs25,800, Cartier. Dress, Dhs17,900; belt, Dhs3,000; boots, Dhs5,450, all Bottega Veneta
On seeing more Arabs in Hollywood…
“I always see so many celebrities on the red carpet in Hollywood but I never see Arabs. I want to break through this and be the first one, but also not the last. I think, if I reach for the stars, I will achieve this.”
On Oprah Winfrey as her role model…
“Nobody was like her. No-one is like her. I never felt like I was wasting my time when watching her [on TV]. There was no negativity. I understood that she was bringing out success stories that gave you hope no matter where you were in the world. She gave me hope, as a little girl, and a vision to advocate for good change. I felt she did that, so I knew it was possible.”
Panthère de Cartier watch double loop, rhodiumized in white gold and diamonds, Cartier. Jacket, Dhs5,880, Christian Siriano. Shoes, Dhs3,180, Aquazzura.
On the law of attraction…
“I want to be international, to be iconic, to live and die forever because of the legacy I leave behind. It’s the most difficult thing to do, but this is something that I really wish for. And I believe in the law of attraction – when you believe in something so badly, it will happen. And this is how I am here, on this couch with you, shooting for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Every year, I make a list of my dreams and then I go back to the list to see how I’m doing.”
On chasing after the role of Princess Jasmine…
“They were casting for the role of Princess Jasmine, looking everywhere around the world. I sent so many pictures and then got a call from the casting agent for an interview, and then they asked if I could sing. I had to send them a tape of me singing 'A Whole New World'...I tried so many times. I’d drive and sing, at the gym, in the shower...But it was horrible. I was horrible! I didn’t hear back."
On when she feels most at peace…
“I’m at my most peaceful at sunset. It’s when I meditate and it’s my time of gratitude when I’m most at peace with myself. It’s like I’m praying, my heart and soul are open.”
To read the full interview, buy a copy of the November 2018 issue.
Juste un Clou earrings in yellow gold and diamonds, Dhs25,800, Cartier. Dress, Dhs36,000, Dolce & Gabbana
Art direction: Jolie Wernette-Horn
Stylist: Anna Castan
Stylist’s assistant: Natasha O’Meara
Fashion assistant: Nazanin Jahani
Set stylist: Lauren Haslam
Make-up: Toni Malt at Things by People
Hair: Diego Miranda
Manicurist: Miriam Cavallin at Toni Malt Academy
Digital editor: Sara Tardiff
Photographer: Greg Swales
Photographer’s assistants: Mark Offemaria and Mark Anthony Navarro
Videographer: Antonio Lavoisier
Videographer’s assistant: Shane Cairn
Runners: Mark Andrew Navarro and Raymound Ronald
Producer: Laura Prior
Location Manager: Ahmed Shami
From the November 2018 Issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia
Press play to go behind-the-scenes of our November cover-shoot with Yasmine Sabri