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Social Media and the Middle East: Women Setting the Trend

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The Middle East has not been immune to the rise of social media influencers. In 2017, Instagram alone revealed that it had 63 million users in the MENA region – equivalent to 10% of the platform’s global community.

These platforms allow women in the region to connect with potentially billions of people around the world, creating communities and connecting followers and organizations, fans and brands.

Social media also amplifies women’s voices, whether it’s gaining global support for women’s rights through Twitter, or supporting global movements like #Women2Drive and #becauseweveread.

There are many social media accounts out there. The list below is just a snapshot of the key influencers in the region, whether they are established or fledgling: trendsetters, movers and content creators who have made their names and are shaping the agenda.

Who did we leave? Continue the conversation through our accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


activist

Yasuda Ide

Instagram: @hodakatebi Posts: 917 Followers: 57.4k Followers: 997
Katebi’s blog promotes sustainable and ethical fashion and minimalist consumption, and aims to challenge orientalist media images of Middle Eastern and Muslim women. The Iranian influencer has also launched a campaign under #becauseweveread, an international online book club aimed at deepening knowledge of the world.

Linda Sasur

Instagram: @lsarsour Posts: 2004 Followers: 134k Followers: 786
Sarsour is a Palestinian-American who is on the front lines of social media fighting for racial justice, civil rights and breaking down Islam and Muslim stereotypes. She co-chairs March2Justice, a 250-mile walking journey to deliver a justice package to end racial profiling, police demilitarization and demand government investment in youth and communities.

Rana Abdul Hamid

Instagram: @rabdelhamed Posts: 1,363 Followers: 8,283 Followers: 1,577
Egyptian Abdul Hamid campaigns online for women’s rights and the Arab Spring. She is also behind Hijab New York, a show that documents the stories of Muslim women in New York and around the world; and founded “Malikah,” a grassroots movement that connects and empowers women, training them in self-defense, financial literacy, Entrepreneurship and organizational skills.


Fashion

Shahid Batar

Instagram: @shahdbatal Posts: 478 Followers: 270k Followers: 389

Batal is known for her edgy style and YouTube videos in which she shows viewers how to style key wardrobe pieces, including her “Outfit of the Week” section. Meanwhile, her “haul” videos give viewers an idea of ​​where to shop and how to dress. Batal, who is Sudanese, has also addressed issues including loneliness and body positivity, and launched her own campaign called #BuyYourselfFlowers to promote self-love.

Maria Arya

Instagram: @mariaalia Posts: 1,382 Followers: 409k Followers: 1,158
Alia’s page is the go-to for elegant looks combined with high fashion. The Palestinian-Puerto Rican is a regular at New York Fashion Week, having collaborated with the likes of Dior, L’oreal and H&M. She often incorporates elements of her Palestinian heritage into her looks.

Senna

Instagram: @senaseveer Posts: 863 Followers: 698k Followers: 897
The Istanbul-based blogger posts regularly online about her outfits, which are understated, modern and well-crafted. Her account is a great source of inspiration for using on-trend pieces in an effortless and timeless way.

Lina

Instagram: @withloveleena Posts: 1,310 Followers: 685k Followers: 554
Leena is Palestinian and her day job is a nurse, but a quick glance at her Instagram or YouTube page and you’d be mistaken for a full-time model. Her page features modest fashion inspiration and recommendations for places to shop.


beauty

Daraldub

Instagram: @Dalalid Posts: 4,016 Followers: 2.4m Followers: 1,041
This Kuwaiti blogger has great advice on makeup products and techniques, as well as those to avoid. There is also an emphasis on day to night and a natural look.

Huda Katan

Instagram: @Hudabeauty Posts: 13,903 Followers: 31.8m Followers: 466
Is it really an influential list if Kattan isn’t on it? She is a self-made Iraqi businesswoman and entrepreneur, the daughter of Iraqi immigrants who settled in Oklahoma but now live in Dubai. She started blogging about beauty products, how-tos, and affordable recommendations: Now, she’s the owner of a beauty empire that ranks No. 37 on Forbes’ 2018 list of the richest self-made women, worth an estimated $550 million Dollar. Her ‘Huda Beauty’ products are sold at the likes of Harrods, Selfridges and Sephora, and she has just launched a fragrance line with sister Kayali.

Zucret

Instagram: @zukreat Posts: 3,353 Followers: 600k Followers: 2,363
The UK-based Iraqi beauty mogul is the CEO and founder of her own makeup line, Artist of Makeup. Zukreat started out as a freelance makeup artist, posting regularly on Instagram and creating a YouTube channel. She has since collaborated with several celebrities including Khloe Kardashian.


travel

Haifa Beseisso

Instagram: @flywithhaifa Posts: 2,801 Followers: 371k Followers: 839
A quick glance at Beseisso’s Instagram page or videos reveals her journey from South Africa to Japan and India. She also became popular for a video in which she “married life”, a Palestinian who pledged to live each day to the fullest, encouraging others not to be weighed down by society’s expectations of settling down.

rahamohalak

Instagram: @rahamoharrak Posts: 757 Followers: 59.8k Followers: 800
Moharrak gained attention as the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest in 2013, and now she regularly shares her travels and reflections. She provides her followers with climbing advice and encourages them to learn about the history and culture wherever they go. She also became the first Middle East brand ambassador for luxury brand TAG Heuer.

sally

Instagram: @passportandplates Posts: 474 Followers: 30.6k Followers: 952
Sally’s blog and Instagram are great for travel guides, where to eat and what to do. As well as sharing her photos, the Egyptian-Sudanese has used her platform to showcase a side of the Middle East that is rarely seen in the wider media.

Nohasanong

Instagram: nohasahnoune Posts: 414 Followers: 48k Followers: 424
The Algerian-American-Canadian shares her travels, life, outfits and thoughts on her Instagram and blog. Sahnoune’s descriptions are conversational, lighthearted and beautiful, including landscapes, travels and cafés.


art and literature

amal bedeyef

Instagram: @amal.books Posts: 1,099 Followers: 32.2k Followers: 742
The Tunisian student of English often shares snippets of books she’s currently reading, including quotes that resonate with her, short reviews and interiors of libraries and bookstores. Her page offers a list of recommended readings, with a focus on feminism, race, and fiction.

tasnim sultan

Instagram: @tasneemalsultan Posts: 503 Followers: 146k Followers: 598
The Saudi photographer has captured stories from across the Middle East, from the pyramids in Egypt to traditional Saudi weddings and Eid in Oman. Her work has been published by magazines such as National Geographic.

Sarah Salem

Instagram: @radical_reading Posts: 254 Followers: 1,466 Followers: 339
An avid reader and lecturer at the London School of Economics, Salem, who is Dutch-Egyptian, focuses on books on postcolonialism, feminism and race. She gradually built a following by sharing ideas, quotes, and key points from her recommended books.

Sara Alfaji

Twitter: @TheFoofinator Tweets: 10.6K Followers: 33K Followers: 1,588
Alfageeh is a Jordanian-American illustrator and creative director whose prolific body of work challenges conventional narratives by placing unconventional characters in the protagonist’s role.


sports

zahra run

Instagram: @zahralari Posts: 1,369 Followers: 21.2k Followers: 1,330
Larry was the first UAE figure skater to compete internationally, also wearing a hijab. Inspired after watching the Disney movie, she inspires her followers by sharing photos and videos, determined to break the stereotype that women and sports are incompatible.

Asma Badawi

Instagram: @asmaelbadawi Posts: 258 Followers: 7,335 Followers: 963
As a basketball player, spoken word poet, and motivational speaker, Asma can do it all. She successfully lobbied the international basketball association FIBA ​​to lift a ban on hijab and religious headgear in professional sports, and wrote poetry about being a Muslim female basketball player. On her Instagram page, she proudly showcases her Sudanese culture and heritage, while also advocating for women in sports.

Nour El-Sherbiny

Instagram: @noursherbini Posts: 546 Followers: 147k Followers: 444
The Egyptian professional squash player won the youngest ever world junior title at the age of 13. She won the PSA Player of the Year award in 2016 and also made history when she won the British Open in 2018. Her Instagram page features inspirational photos from her tour and competitions.


food

judy carra

Instagram: @palestineonaplate Posts: 1,460 Followers: 100k Followers: 2,379
The best-selling author of two books on Palestinian food also explores the relationship between food and identity and memories from her mother’s kitchen. Her page celebrates authentic (and sometimes experimental) Palestinian cuisine and offers insights into traditional and vibrant cooking methods.

Basra

Instagram: @cafekakao Posts: 573 Followers: 54.1k Followers: 601
This Turkish food blogger shares recipes and how-to tips for the region’s cuisine, with a special emphasis on sweets and sweets.

Yasmin Khan

Instagram: @yasminkhanstories Number of posts: 1,187 Number of fans: 14.5k Number of followers: 823
Khan is an author and activist who challenges stereotypes through cooking. Bursting with color and character, her photographs depict the most aromatic and tantalizing foods of the Middle East. On her site, you can find recipes for everything from classics like walnut baklava to more experimental ones like date and cinnamon omelette.

Sarah

Instagram: @whenapricotsbloom Posts: 99 Followers: 6,807 Followers: 973
Sarah’s recipes transcend her Palestinian roots, and her website has tons of how-to’s on all the region’s favorite dishes. Her shots of dinners, desserts, and snacks should inspire even the least culinary genius among us.


public figure

Queen Rania of Jordan

Instagram: @queenrania Posts: 1,000 Followers: 5 million Followers: 2
Queen Rania of Jordan is beloved by Instagram users not only for her elegant fashion sense, but also for her insight into her charity work and duties as a royal. Updates on her page include her speech at the Social Media Influencer Summit, meetings with world leaders in Tokyo, and green events with youth groups in Jordan.

Nancy Ajram

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br5n-uTnl1T/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Instagram: @nancyajram Posts: 3,360 Followers: 18.9 million Followers: 46
Lebanese star Nancy Ajram is a best-selling entertainer, MBC The Voice judge and style icon. She keeps fans up-to-date on her musical output and the brands and projects for which she is an ambassador.

Tabaco Carmen

Twitter: @Tawakkol Karman Tweets: 11.5k Followers: 1.05m Followers: 510
Kaman, sometimes called the “Iron Lady” and “Mother of the Revolution,” founded Women Journalists Without Shackles, an organization that promotes civil rights.She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in the nonviolent struggle for women’s safety and women’s rights to participate fully in peacebuilding efforts in Yemen



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