Saudi Arabia has stoked controversy after it was revealed that it gave permission for Vogue Arabia to conduct a raunchy photoshoot of international supermodels within the historical site of Al-Ula in the province of Madina.
Vogue Arabia, the Arab edition of the renowned US-based fashion magazine, released its 24-hour campaign photoshoot for the New York-based label Mônot yesterday, which featured models such as Kate Moss, Mariacarla Boscono, Candice Swanepoel, Jourdan Dunn, Amber Valletta, Xiao Wen and Alek Wek.
In the photoshoot, named ‘24 hours in AlUla,’ the models were seen wearing tight dresses with thigh-slits while they posed and walked around the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the world’s largest open air museum consisting of carved rock structures similar to Jordan’s Petra.
The Lebanese designer Eli Mizrahi, who organised and directed the shoot, said: “I convinced the talent that they would look back on this moment — 24 hours in AlUla — as something special. Kate Moss not only came, but she was the first one on set at 5 a.m. and the last to leave.”
The nature of the shoot and the dresses worn in them are classed as immodest by many Muslims, and despite the fact that the distance of the site is around 300 kilometres from the holy city of Madina, it is within the same province which many see as inappropriate for the Saudi authorities to have allowed.
The controversial photoshoot is part of a series of reforms that the kingdom has been implementing in recent years in order to open up its economy to international tourism and modernisation. Such reforms, which include the decrease in authority of the religious police, the lifting of restrictions in gender mixing, and the stripping of the requirement for women to wear the abaya or loose gown, are also part of the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.