Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) is the Middle East’s first non-profit high-profile fashion initiative and event that brings exposure, business support, and recognition to the region’s best upcoming designers.

Held in Doha and created by Tania Fares under the patronage of Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser as a solution to the lack of press coverage and opportunity, the FTA serves as a MENA (Middle East and North Africa) counterpart to the British Fashion Council (BFC) Fashion Trust, a charitable initiative that offers business support to British-based designers through funding and mentorship.

The contestants, who come from various parts in the MENA region, were judged by an impressive, star-studded panel of judges that is made up of industry specialists, luxury label designers, models, and journalists. Some of the biggest names on the 2019 panel are Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Zuhair Murad, Haider Ackermann, Diane von Furstenberg, Carla Bruni, Alexander Wang, Imaan Hammam, and Victoria Beckham.

Speaking of what the judges are hoping to find in the winners of the five categories (bags, shoes, jewelry, evening wear, and ready-to-wear), Beckham said “Somebody with big dreams and an interest in a business plan. Someone that is ticking the fashion box, but someone who also has a commercial head on their shoulders, as well, because ultimately, it’s about selling. It’s a full package. That’s a lot of boxes to tick.”

The judging panel wasn’t the only part of the event that drew famous faces; guests at the ceremony included supermodel Naomi Campbell, designer Zac Posen, entrepreneur Olivia Palermo, and even actors Luke Evans and Johnny Depp.

The 25 finalists, selected by a panel of executive committee members with the support of partner, were comprised of Kuwait’s Amna Al Salem, Morocco’s Hamza Guelmouss, Tunisia’s Riadh Trabelsi, Qatar’s Yasmin Mansour, and Egypt’s Sadafa to name a few.

Aside from showcasing their work to some of the industry’s largest figures, the winners also  receive mentorship from FTA’s executive committee made up of 13 Middle Eastern fashion and business leaders, like founder of The Modist Ghizlan Guenez and Lebanese designer Reem Acra, as well as a prize of up to $200,000, tailored to each winner’s business plan. The winners will also be mentored by and stocked at MatchesFashion.

Taking home the prize in the bags category is the Egyptian duo behind Sabry Marouf, Ahmed and Daki Marouf. Morocco took home the prize in the footwear category with Zyne, while UAE’s Donna Hourani lost to Lebanon’s Mukhi Sisters in the jewelry category. A lucky strike came about when it was announced that two finalists won in the ready-to-wear category, those being Lebanese womenswear designer Salim Azzam, whose work features embroidery and Arabic script, and Beirut-based Roni Helou who showed at London Fashion Week in February. The winner of the final category, Krikor Jabotian for evening wear, received an extra win in his own right as his prize includes being stocked by London department store Harrods.

For more information on how to apply for next year’s prize, visit