Hailing from Azilal in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Oulhaj has been inspired by her culture’s rich fashion heritage since she was a young girl, rifling through magazine pages and family photo albums. Fast forward a few years, she’s now the face of Yves Saint Laurent’s newest cosmetics collection, and she currently graces the first cover of Vogue Arabia of the year. Although she works heavily with local fashion brands, she’s recently also been heading towards global success, having modeled for the likes of Moncler and Burberry.
One of the emerging fashion models who is very closely tied to her Middle Eastern heritage, Deba Hekmat — now based in the U.K. — is signed to Anti-Agency and known to champion diversity and inclusivity in the modeling industry. She has walked for Vivienne Westwood and Vetements, and continues to model for streetwear and sports brands (like Nike and Hoodlab) while embracing her Middle Eastern origins both on the runway and on social media, where Deba (not Debbie, as her Instagram bio proudly proclaims) does shoots for Middle Eastern magazines and projects, and explains in one Instagram post that she “hopes to be part of the change in Middle Eastern media.”