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Modern chic meets rich heritage at all-Emirati final to decide Expo 2020 workforce uniform design (Press Release)

Published on Monday, November 5, 2018
For Immediate Release

31 October, 2018

Press Release


Modern chic meets rich heritage at all-Emirati final to decide Expo 2020 workforce uniform design


=        Creations were showcased to Expo DG, industry leaders during runway event

=        Uniforms will be highly visible, worn by more than 30,000 volunteers and staff

=        Winning design to be revealed after comprehensive evaluation by expert panel


DUBAI, 31 October, 2018 – Three Emirati fashion labels have wowed judges in the final of a competition to dress more than 30,000 Expo 2020 Dubai volunteers and team members, showcasing designs that blend cutting-edge styles with the UAE’s rich heritage. 


The shortlisted designers – By Laha (Hamda Abbas, Sara Mustafa and Zainab AlShaikh), ARSHYS (Arshia Alam Khan) and Twisted Roots (Latifa Al Gurg) – were selected from a number of high quality submissions made by designers from across the UAE who had been invited to participate in the competition.


Expo 2020 launched the uniform design competition in September this year as an initiative to engage the UAE’s fashion community and to offer an empowering platform for their work to reach a global audience.


The three finalists each received AED 50,000 and were asked to create samples of their collections, which were today presented in a runway-style showcase at Expo 2020’s newly opened House of Volunteers. 


Their full collections include top, bottom, jacket, hat, bag, tie, scarf, kandora, ghitra, abaya, shayla and an accessory. Concepts have been judged based on their representation of Emirati culture, practicality and sustainable elements.

The trio was evaluated by a panel chaired by Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau. The panel also comprised Expo 2020 volunteers and staff from various departments, as well as Manuel Arnaut, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Arabia, Sass Brown, Founding Dean, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation and Jazia Al Dhanhani, CEO, Dubai Design and Fashion Council


Dr Hayat Shamsuddin, Vice President, Arts and Culture – Content and Programming, Expo 2020 Dubai, and a member of the evaluation panel, said: “The UAE is committed to preserving its rich culture and heritage, and to passing it on from one generation to the next. As the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 offers an invaluable opportunity to showcase our creativity, values and traditions on a global stage. 


“With more than 30,000 people proudly wearing the uniform for six months as they help to welcome the world to the UAE, it will be one of the most visible elements of the Expo. 


All three finalists have demonstrated a tremendous passion for their work and pride in being associated with Expo 2020 Dubai.


The runway show was followed by a  presentations by each of the designers, allowing judges to understand the inspiration behind their concepts.


Guests at the showcase included experts from leading organisations in the fashion industry, including Dubai Design District, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, Fashion Forward Dubai and Dubai Design and Fashion Council, all of which have played a significant role in supporting the competition.

Hamda Abbas, co-founder of By Laha, said: “To have the opportunity to design the uniforms for the biggest event the UAE has ever hosted is a privilege, and to be among the three finalists is a dream come true.”

Arshia Alam Khan, designer and founder of ARSHYS, said: “My designs are inspired by the falcon, the UAE’s national bird and a symbol of force and courage. They reflect the UAE’s position of authority in hosting such a prestigious event, which is opening its doors to the world. Being Emirati, it has been an incredible opportunity to be involved in this national project, whatever the outcome of the competition.”

Latifa Al Gurg, founder of Twisted Roots, said: “Born and raised in the UAE, I have seen first-hand the remarkable growth and evolution of this country, and I have attempted to reflect that in my designs. I feel privileged to have been given a chance to contribute to Expo 2020’s legacy.”

Reflecting Expo’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, the uniform must be practical, weather appropriate and easily identifiable but modest. Supporting one of Expo 2020’s three subthemes, Sustainability, designs using recycled or organic fabrics, zero waste concepts, or which take into account sustainable practices and innovations throughout the supply chain are weighed more favourably.

Bong Guerrero, CEO and co-founder of Fashion Forward Dubai, said: “All three designers did a tremendous job in expressing their individual creative capacity and talent, while also working within the parameters of the competition.


“By Laha’s collection reveals some beautiful colours inspired by the Expo logo and UAE landscape. Their designs are simple, trendy and contemporary with a cultural theme. 


“ARSHYS shows great attention to detail, with a lot of consideration given to the symbolism of colour and pattern. The designs are highly practical and have a strong local flavour.  


“Twisted Roots has presented a delightful evolution of the UAE national dress; the elegant lines are cohesive throughout all their components and represent the past incorporated into the future.


“It is going to be a tough decision to pick a winning design, but I am excited to see what the much-anticipated Expo 2020 uniform will look like.”


The final designs will be revealed later this year, after a comprehensive evaluation by the panel.


About the designers:


By Laha

Founded by best friends Hamda Abbas, Sara Mustafa and Zainab AlShaikh, By Laha is a Dubai-based brand whose abaya designs have matured over time to become a collection of ready-to-wear, contemporary pieces.

Inspired by the timeless Emirati style, the brand uses minimalist alternatives to traditional clothing, its subtle essentialism earning a loyal following since its launch in 2009.

Natural material choices with a keen focus on sustainable handcrafted production practices inform each collection's composition and highlight the designers’ personal aesthetics.



Inspired by the concept of ‘slow fashion’ (which includes sustainability and conscious design) and the idea of producing a small capsule collection, Emirati designer Arshia Alam Khan established ARSHYS in Dubai in 2017 as a bold, quirky, contemporary womenswear brand.


Arshia’s designs for the Expo uniform strongly depict UAE culture, with design elements that are inspired by a falcon in flight, the Expo 2020 logo and the UAE national flag. The collection reflects the progressive nature of the UAE, incorporating one of the most traditional and oldest crafts, the sadou, in a modern way while keeping the overall look international. 


The ARSHYS concept pays detailed attention to Sustainability, with options to source organic fabrics from eco-friendly resources, or recycled polyester yarn from crushed plastic bottles.

Twisted Roots

Latifa Al Gurg grew up in a talented family heavily involved in the construction and architectural design field, allowing her to acquire a great eye for detail, structure and clean lines. Her passion for design came to fruition in 2014, when she launched Twisted Roots in Dubai as a brand that offers affordable luxury with contemporary classics that are inspired by travel.

Latifa’s initial inspiration for the competition came from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who, when launching the official logo of Expo 2020, said: “We were and will always be a pot that gathers civilisations and a centre for innovation. Over 4,000 years ago, the people who lived on this land had a deep creative spirit and today the people of this country are building the nation’s future for centuries to come.” 

Inspired by the growth and evolution of the UAE, Twisted Roots’ designs use traditional and modern cultural references, including skies, stars, deserts, circles, embroidery and weaving. 

The judging panel:

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy

UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau

Rolando Martins

Chief Visitor Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai

Dr Hayat Shamsuddin

Vice President, Arts and Culture – Content and Programming, Expo 2020 Dubai

Abeer Al Hosani

Head of Volunteers – Human Resources, Workforce and Volunteers, Expo 2020 Dubai

Virginia Wesley

Senior Manager, Uniforms – Human Resources, Workforce and Volunteers, Expo 2020 Dubai

Clive Stephens

Director, Event Operations, Expo 2020 Dubai

Sandy Jabbour

Graphic Designer, The Narrative Lab, Expo 2020 Dubai

Ruba Al Ayed

Director – Communications, PR and Media Relations, Expo 2020 Dubai

Manuel Arnaut

Editor-in-Chief, Vogue Arabia

Alia Al Khoori

Expo 2020 Volunteer

Salem Bin Beshr

Expo 2020 Volunteer

Sass Brown

Founding Dean, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

Jazia Al Dhanhani

CEO, Dubai Design and Fashion Council

Expo 2020 runs between 20 October, 2020 and 10 April, 2021. It is expected that Expo will record 25 million visits, with 70 per cent of visitors predicted to come from outside the UAE – the highest proportion of overseas visitors in the 167-year history of World Expos.



About Expo 2020

inter-ideograph;vertical-align:top'>Expo 2020 Dubai is guided by the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas combining in new ways. For six months from 20 October, 2020, Expo aims to bring together 180 countries and millions of people to celebrate human ingenuity: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

=         During the six months from 20 October, 2020 to 10 April, 2021, we expect millions of people to visit Expo

=         About 70 per cent of all visitors are anticipated to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion of international visitors in Expo history

=         We aim to create and deliver an inclusive and global Expo with more than 200 participants, including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses and educational institutions

=         Expo 2020 also has an ambitious volunteer programme, which aims to include more than 30,000 volunteers from a wide range of ages, nationalities, cultures and backgrounds

=         The Expo site covers a total of 4.38 sqkm, including a 2 sqkm gated area. It is located adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South

=         Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to take place in the MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) region


Visit: www.expo2020dubai.com

Follow: Twitter: @expo2020dubai | Facebook: @Expo2020Dubai | Instagram: expo2020dubai

About World Expos

In 1851 the Crystal Palace was the centrepiece of London’s Great Exhibition – the first World Expo. It celebrated the man-made industrial wonders of a rapidly changing world. Architecture, contents and a theme, ‘Industry of All Nations’, were combined to create a big idea of nations meeting nations in shared technological and commercial progress. In more recent years, participants in World Expos, including governments, international organisations and companies, have gathered to find solutions to universal challenges and to promote their achievements, products, ideas, innovations, their national brand, and their nations as destinations for tourism, trade and investment. 

World Expos are held under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organisation responsible for overseeing and regulating international exhibitions (‘Expos’) and for fostering their core values of Education, Innovation and Cooperation. Today, four types of Expos are organised under the BIE’s auspices: World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.


For media enquiries, please contact:
Courtney Trenwith
Editor-in-Chief (English)
Tel: +971 55 955 4305
P.O. Box 2020, Dubai, UAE