It has emerged that Saudi Arabia gave permission for international supermodels to do a raunchy photoshoot in Al Ula in Medina province.
Vogue Arabia revealed yesterday that the photoshoot for New York-based label Mônot featured catwalk stars like Kate Moss, Mariacarla Boscono, Candice Swanepoel, Jourdan Dunn, Amber Valletta, Xiao Wen and Alek Wek.
The models wore black and white thigh-slit flowy dresses as they walked and danced around the Kingdom’s cultural and heritage site.
The 24-hour campaign shoot took place in January in Al Ula, the world’s largest living open air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lebanese designer Eli Mizrahi 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.”
Al Ula is home to Mada’in Saleh, the first site in the Kingdom to be recognised by UNESCO and a location often compared to Jordan’s Petra.
Located 300 kilometres north of Medina, Al Ula was historically located on the incense route and was an important trading hub for the ancient Lihyanites.
The Quran tells the story of the settlement of the area by the Thamud people during the days of Prophet Salih (as). The Thamud were punished by Allah for their practice of idol worship, being struck by an earthquake and lightning blasts.
Such a photoshoot would have been unthinkable in Saudi Arabia just a few years ago because of the Kingdom’s strict Islamic rules on modesty.
But since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become the country’s de facto ruler he has introduced several westernising, liberal reforms, especially with regard to the entertainment industry and gender relations.