Hiba Asaad is a fashion executive in Jordan and head of projects at CIIN magazine where she has an insider's view of the fashion industry in the Arab world. She is a proud mother of five, has a black belt in kickboxing and is a professional pianist. Intrigued? We were. Read Elle's conversation with Hiba below.
Elle: Your role as Head of Projects at CIIN Magazine gives you a unique lens into the fashion industry and particularly when it comes to the Arab world. What do people and brands most misunderstand when it comes to the Arab consumer?
Hiba: It is true I do have the privilege of looking through my lens at the dynamic landscape which is the fashion industry. When I compare the international environment to the Arab world’s I realize how thirsty the Arab world is for real and tangible change. The use of fashion for this change is incredible to see and participate in.
Elle: You were named one of the best dressed women in the Middle East by Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Your personal sense of style is not based on trends and you’ve mentioned you’d like to encourage more women to own their sense of style rather than feel the need to follow trends. Can you elaborate more on that for us?
Hiba: In today’s landscape, it is very easy to do what others do. With the huge sums of money spent on PR and marketing, people’s sense of fashion is starting to look very similar to others. I say ‘fashion’ and not ‘style’ because I believe that style is what you make of fashion. This is where I feel women need to be more courageous in how they wear today’s fashion.
Elle: You are a proud mom of five with a flourishing career. I am not going to ask you the clichéd balance question, but I do want to know how both have contributed to your life and personal sense of self.
Hiba: Having a young family and burgeoning career is challenging, and I can see where some of us go wrong. It is my experience that these two worlds need to meet, it is almost a symbiotic relationship. I learn from my young children every day, skills that I can actually use at work. The importance of play and creativity and just letting go for example. Let’s face it, our kids are much better than us at these skills.
Elle: What’s the most important lesson you want your children to learn?
Hiba: It’s a question as opposed to a lesson… I believe that children should be brought up to challenge the status quo. The question is: “Why not?” It’s terribly annoying when it’s 10pm and they are asking about another piece of cake, however I strongly believe that in order to grow, create and build you need to be able to dream, and that will always start with the question: why not?
Elle: What’s the best thing about living in the Middle East and what’s one thing you would like people to know about Jordanian culture.
Hiba: I think one of the most priceless traits of the Arab world and Jordan specifically is our acknowledgement of our common humanity. This goes a long way in creating a kind and familiar environment for us to co-habitate in. Beyond the material world, in Jordan we tend live life more fully, with more love, kindness and compassion for one another.
Elle: Your Instagram profile has #NotJustAPrettyFace in the caption. What does #NotJustAPrettyFace mean to you?
Hiba: I feel the urge to remind everyone to look at me, the real me, beyond the hair and the face, into my brain, into my soul, into my heart. The three elements that make up the true me.
Elle: What is your favorite word or phrase?
Hiba: Probably a profanity!
Elle: One person living or dead you’d like to have a conversation with?
Hiba: Nelson Mandela for sure. He represents perseverance, pride, strength, and compassion, all done in a very dignified manner.
Elle: At Zvelle, we believe in the idea of #GlobalCitizenry. What does it mean to you?
Hiba: To me #GlobalCitizenry is freedom and equality for all. Each and every person on this planet came to the world in the same way and will leave in the same way. There needs to be mutual respect for all citizens regardless of their social class and financial situation.