Also part of the show was Tunisian-French model Ameni Esseibi, fresh off the runway from her Paris Fashion Week debut, where she was the only Arab woman to walk for Weinsanto — the event’s opening show — but also as one of only two plus-size models to feature.
Amato muse, model Sajad Pourhasan, also featured in the show.
Wearing an embellished black dress with a mix of fabric and textures covered in black feathers, Khalifa's striking appearance set the tone for One's latest collection, which has a theme around birds.
Scroll through the gallery above to see the Arab Fashion Week opening show
Called Birds of Prey, the 33-piece collection, featuring a mix of womenswear and menswear, was presented with the designer's famed dramatic flair, and proved a strong opening show for the the six-day autumn/winter showcase at Dubai Design District.
Known for his glittering couture creations, One's all-black collection was geared towards ready-to-wear, but still with rich embellishments and heavy thread works. The designer played with textures to great effect, proving his mastery over fabrics, too, and not simply red-carpet sparkles.
There were feathers aplenty, and so were all kinds of laces, tulles and even leather.
To articulate his "pret couture" theme, the looks were also mixed. For instance, glamorous embellished dresses were paired with leather hoodies while some were matched with parka jackets.
Speaking backstage to The National ahead of the show, One, who now runs his 20-year-old label Amato out of D3, said sustainability was another important message he wanted to communicate with his latest collection.
"In our atelier, we have been practising slow fashion and upcycling since the very beginning and I want to inspire new designers with the same concept so our industry will be more sustainable for the next generation," he said. "This season, I have introduced sustainable fabrics, produced locally by indigenous groups and communities from different parts of the world as I also wanted to support and boost local suppliers."
He said Miss Universe Bahrain Khalifa was "the epitome of grace, passion and beauty".
Khalifa, 24, who's just returned from a pageant boot camp in the Philippines, said walking the runway at Arab Fashion Week for One was another dream come true.
"It is my honour to represent the stories Arab women as I walk and open the Arab Fashion Week before I head to wear the sash of Bahrain and the Gulf at the stage of the greatest competition of its kind — the Miss Universe," she told The National.
"As Arab women, we were strengthened by several challenges in our history as we continuously defy norms and break stereotypes. We embrace the power of our roots as we navigate our roads to innovation and modernisation without losing our culture and beautiful virtue."
Khalifa won the Miss Bahrain 2022 crown in September, and is only second beauty queen from the Gulf to represent her country at the Miss Universe 2022 pageant, to be held in New Orleans in January.
The beauty queen, who was picked from more than 300 applicants, was recently in Manila for two weeks along with Miss Universe Bahrain national director Josh Yugen, where she was trained by some of the best in the industry.
“Being the new face of her generation, Evlin Khalifa is a symbol of hope and respect as she carries the flaming torch of the new generation of Arab leaders, movers and shakers. I can’t wait for you all to see what this amazing lady can do," Yugen said.