Haute couture, sophistication, and class – all of these will be showcased in Saudi Arabia’s capital for its first Arab Fashion Week happening next month, from March 26 to March 31. The eyes of the fashion world will be on the kingdom as they launch one of the most elite international fashion week as part of a push to support aspiring Saudi designers and drive growth in the sector.

The show, organized by the Arab Fashion Council, will take place at the Apex Center in Riyadh – a white honeycomb-like venue designed by the late celebrated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. “The first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh will be more than a world-class event, it is a catalyst through which we believe the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade,” Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, Honorary President for the Arab Fashion Council, said in a statement.

The Arab Fashion Council’s founder and chief executive, Jacob Abrian, said Riyadh’s new partnership with the British Fashion Council would take Arab couture “into different levels”. He added that he hoped it would encourage London-based designers to come and explore the huge potential in the Arab world of fashion.

Princess Noura added that the global support shown for the inaugural Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh shows that Saudi Arabia is seen increasingly not just as an economic force, but as a “cultural and creative hub”.

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Caroline Rush, Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, Ms Layla Issa Abu Zeid and @jacobabrian in the announcement of the strategic partnership between the Arab Fashion Council and the @britishfashioncouncil in London today, and the launch of the first ever fashion week in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. جاكوب ابريان والسيدة ليلى عيسى أبو زيد وسمو الأميرة نورة بنت فيصل آل سعود والسيدة كارولين رش بعيد إعلان اتفاقية التعاون بين مجلس الأزياء العربي ومجلس الأزياء البريطاني في لندن اليوم وانطلاق اول أسبوع عربي للموضة في الرياض. #jacobabrian #RAFW #AFC #arabfashionweek #arabfashioncouncil #britishfashioncouncil

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According to Saudi-based fashion designer Arwa Al-Banawi, “Saudi Arabia is becoming more and more developed and I’m seeing a lot of Saudi designers following their dreams, it’s a very special time for female empowerment and also for the world to see the beautiful creative talent in our country.” He further added that he can’t wait to have his first fashion show in Riyadh and show the international audience of the different styles Arabian culture has. “I’m really excited that this is finally happening in my own country.”

Alongside the prestigious Paris and Milan Fashion Week, the twice-yearly Arab Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections. The Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council said on its website that fashion week would be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October. Specific details are yet to be revealed about this event.