WKND Special: Emirati model Minwa Al Hamed on what it takes to be a royal muse
Model Minwa Al Hamed, muse of Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum’s jewellery line, talks about the fine art of inspiring others
There is a certain romanticism around the idea of a muse — a figure that inspires the artist to create a work of art. But is a muse a passive presence or someone who actively participates in the process of creation? Sometimes, it can be a bit of both. Recently, Emirati model Minwa Al Hamed, 28, was named the muse for Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum’s jewellery line. In an age where the term ‘ambassador’ is commonly used for faces that represent a brand, the idea of a muse inspires nostalgia. In a rapidly changing world, where social media is constantly defining — and redefining — our idea of beauty, how does a muse hold her own.
In a conversation with wknd., Hamed, who is also an artist herself, talks about what it means to be a muse and why beauty cannot eclipse the person within.
Tell us about your formative years.
I have spent my childhood here and was keen on studying art. So, in many ways, that has been my first passion. In fact, I am still pursuing it. Fashion and beauty are things that I have always been interested in, but at that time, I didn’t think it was the right moment to take the plunge. So, when I was made an offer by Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum, I definitely saw it as a sign from the universe. And then I asked myself why not — especially if it can be done in an artistically beautiful way. I think I am at an age where I want to do what I am passionate about. That opened the doors to fashion, and modelling was obviously the next step. I had been thinking about it for a few years actually.
You are the muse of Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum’s jewellery line. What does being a muse mean to you?
It means that you are the face of the brand and making appearances for it. Recently, we did an event at Christie’s, where I was representing the brand. It was actually Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum, who decided to call me her muse. And I am very honoured.
But the role of a muse can also be passive, being often subjected to the artist’s imagination.
I am selective. Since she gave me the title of a muse, she can present me the way she thinks best, and I completely trust her. Being a muse is not always passive, it is also about creating and participating in a dialogue. I am very keen to see what comes out of the process. With Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum, it is also a long-term relationship. We have known each other for a while and started off as friends. So, whatever we do together, there is always that personal touch. Everything has come together in a beautiful way. The other modelling assignments are just jobs.
As an Emirati model, what are the real challenges of the job?
The challenge is not being able to do 100 per cent of what many agencies would expect from, say, any other model. For example, it cannot be about showing too much skin. So, they won’t probably consider Emirati models, unless it is a special line created for Arab women. But other than that, it is good.
But with modest fashion becoming a talking point, isn’t that concern being addressed?
I think so. Even if there are very few Emirati models, there are many Emirati women who are fashionistas in their own right and they are active on social media. They keep making their own style statements. So, all of this contributes to the fact that things are opening up now and there is a lot more understanding. That has also enabled me to do this. I think we are now allowed to express ourselves, and our idea of fashion in a different way.
Speaking of social media, it is also making many women — young and old — conscious of how they look, as it is setting a new standard of perfection. In such a scenario, how can ambassadors of beauty like you debunk these notions?
I keenly follow psychology, so I understand the impact these notions can have. Sometimes, I do spot things that can be intimidating for someone like me, for example, “Oh, you need to be this way in order to get these many jobs.” I simply block those ideas in my head. At the end of the day, you simply need to do what you want to do and focus on real things. Also, I feel we are becoming more aware of what beauty really means. I understand it can get hard on social media, but I’d simply advise others to unfollow those accounts (laughs).
What is your idea of beauty?
There is beauty in everything and everyone. The beauty industry, too, is evolving and it has helped us learn that it’s important to know what suits each person. Beauty is in what you stand for as a person, how you value others, what is your personality like — these ideas contribute just as much to the idea of beauty. We all age, and what helps beauty evolve is keeping the essence of the person intact.
Can beauty also eclipse the person underneath?
Not so much actually. Beauty cannot overpower who I really am. Maybe because I am also someone who is keen on conversations. I cannot just sit somewhere, looking the way I do. I have not faced those issues, even though I understand that it’s sad to have how one looks define who they are.
Between art and fashion, where does your heart truly lie?
I am a family person. I want to eventually settle down while pursuing my passion — art and modelling. In the long run, I will definitely want to get a degree in psychology, and even have aspects of it reflected in my art. I think being in the art community goes hand in hand with fashion. And I believe everyone has a different perspective through art and fashion. Studying art helped me grow and understand how the industry works and how you can express yourself through these means.