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Behnaz Sarafpour in Saudi Arabia

The designer wrote to WWD about her recent visit to the Middle East.

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Behnaz Sarafpour in Saudi Arabia

Last week I took my first trip ever to Saudi Arabia for an exhibition and trunk show of my spring collection at DNA, the beautiful fashion concept store in Riyadh founded by my friend Princess Deena Abdulaziz.

My husband Evan and I stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh during our visit. It was conveniently located and also had all the luxuries of home. Evan accompanied me during most of the trip (with the exception of a trunk show and exhibition at DNA and a poolside fashion show at the Yebreen spa hosted by Princess Reema Al-Saud — those events were attended exclusively by women).

For the royal family, the social scene in Riyadh mainly consists of tea parties and late-night dinners at home. But for the fashion crowd, Riyadh is a city that wakes up late and keeps going well into the early morning hours! The extreme heat of the desert makes you want to avoid the daylight and focus on most activities in the evening, with stores staying open for shoppers as late as 11 p.m.

The morning of the fashion show, we took a little time away to visit the more historic outskirts of Riyadh. The village of Diriyah is the old capital of Saudi. It’s a charming area where the ruins are under constant repair for archeological preservation and shepherds wander with their cattle around the date-tree farms.

The old souk is a great destination for picking up traditional souvenirs. We made a quick stop there one evening to get traditional Saudi handmade sandals and shirtdresses, which will look superchic back in New York for the summer season.

Finally, on our last day, we took the afternoon to go out to the desert and enjoy a leisurely lunch in a beautiful tent overlooking the sand dunes, and I even got to ride a camel for the first time!!! Very “Lawrence of Arabia”!!!

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