Khadija Al Bastaki, Rami Al Ali and Amy Roko make global fashion's top 500 list

Business of Fashion lists industry's top movers and shakers, with five regional entries added this year

Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi at Paris Fashion Week last year. He is being celebrated by the industry website Business of Fashion. Getty Images
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Every year, Business of Fashion names 500 movers and shakers that are shaping the global industry.

Running since September 2013, the go-to website for fashion singles out individuals for their impact on the world stage. This year, five regional names are being celebrated.

They join a sizeable list of regional figures, including the Beirut-born human rights lawyer Amal Clooney; couturier Elie Saab; Patrick Chalhoub, group president of the Chalhoub Group; and Amina Muaddi, the Jordanian-American shoe designer.

Khadija Al Bastaki

Emirati businesswoman Al Bastaki is the senior vice president of Dubai Design District.

Since joining d3 in 2019, she has been instrumental in bringing multiple Dubai fashion events under one umbrella. Arab Fashion Week was rebranded as Dubai Fashion Week this year and is aimed at cementing the city's place on the international fashion week calendar.

Al Bastaki has an MBA in strategic management and a bachelor's degree in software engineering; she has spent 15 years at leading UAE companies and enterprises including DP World, Tecom Group and Dubai Media City.

She took over as d3 executive director from chief executive officer Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi. Today, Al Bastaki is focused on nurturing grassroots talents and helping bring them to a wider audience, while she oversees major events such as Sole DXB and Dubai Design Week.

Rami Al Ali

Syrian designer Rami Al Ali launched his eponymous label in 2001 in Dubai and is part of the official couture calendar of the 2009 Alta Moda Alta Roma in Italy.

In 2012, Al Ali began showing off-schedule at Paris Couture Week. His couture line was expanded into ready-to-wear in 2014 as well as a bridal ready-to-wear line in 2020 called Rami Al Ali White.

Al Ali's client list includes Naomi Campbell, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez, and the designer is committed to nurturing the next generation of rising stars, through mentoring students at Esmod Fashion Institute in Dubai, and the Dubai Design & Fashion Council.

In 2021, he founded Ard Dyar, a digital platform to support talented young Syrians across a variety of disciplines by connecting them with established leaders in fields such as architecture, technology and education as well as fashion and media.

Laila Gohar

Laila Gohar is an Egyptian artist who works with food to create avante garde installations, such as giant cupcakes and bridal table displays of green beans and black olives. Such adventurous thinking has resulted in collaborations with brands including Hermes, Comme des Garcons and Prada.

Last year, she co-founded Gohar World with her sister Nadia, built around a concept of the dining table being the heart of the family, offering surrealist homeware such as candles shaped like baguettes and handmade lace aprons for bottles and fruit.

Gohar has also collaborated with the Danish company Hay on a line of tableware called Sobremesa, which is Spanish for dessert. t features quirky hand-painted tables and homeware, sold at Selfridges and Farfetch.

Mohammed Ashi

Ashi is the founder of Ashi Studio, the first Saudi label to be invited to join the Federation de la Haute Couture in Paris this year.

Having studied at Esmod, Ashi learnt his craft with internships at Givenchy and then at Saab, where he worked for two years, before branching out on his own.

His first collection was snapped by Giuliana Rancic and Eva Longoria who both wore his designs to the Grammys, prompting Ashi to found his label in 2007. At the 2013 Dubai Fashion Experience, the late Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani named Ashi as a name to watch. Since then, Ashi has dressed the likes of Queen Rania of Jordan, Beyonce, Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

Known for innovative cuts, Ashi skillfully blends old-school glamour with daring shapes, resulting in bespoke looks that are both elegant and cutting-edge.

Amy Roko

Also from Saudi Arabia is the rapper, comedian and influencer Roko. Having started on the now-defunct platform Vine in 2015, Roko quickly gained a following for her comedic videos, rapping and jokes. Having switched to Instagram and TikTok, she has amassed nearly two million followers on each.

Never seen without her niqab, Roko has become a de facto poster girl for the fast pace of social change in her home country, bringing her to the attention of international brands such as Levi’s, Aigner and New Balance, which named her as regional brand ambassador.

She also starred in the first music video for Benefit Cosmetics, alongside Emirati make-up influencer Sara and Saudi singer Roya in 2020.

Updated: October 06, 2023, 6:43 PM