Charlotte Leslie becomes a patron of the Zay Initiative
News 15 Feb 2021

Charlotte Leslie becomes a patron of the Zay Initiative

15th February 2021: For immediate Release:

Charlotte Leslie becomes a patron of the Zay Initiative 

Director of the Conservative Middle East Council will help sustain the legacy 

The Zay Initiative is delighted to announce that Charlotte Leslie, former Conservative Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, and the current Director of the Conservative Middle East Council has been appointed as patron. 

Charlotte will act as a figurehead of the Zay Initiative, the non-for-profit organization devoted to the preservation of the Arab world’s cultural heritage, particularly women’s attire.  She will support our work through speeches and participating in our events.

Since 2017, Charlotte has been Director of CMEC which aims to foster greater understanding of the Middle East among MPs and peers.

Charlotte said, “the Conservative Middle East Council organises delegations of MPs and Peers to the region so becoming a patron to the Zay Initiative is an exciting and fitting extension to the work we do. We see The Zay Initiative as an added value in helping us extend cross-cultural bridges for mutual understanding.”

The Zay Initiative advances the preservation of Arab cultural heritage through the collection, preservation and digital archiving of Arab historical dress and the stories it tells of countries across the Middle East and north Africa.

The core of the collection is based on UAE traditional dress, but it also includes historical address from across the region - from clothes worn by the simplest rural families to ruling dynasties. 

Widad Kawar, the founder and CEO of Tiraz, one of the largest Palestinian dress collections and a member of the Zay’s creative advistory board added: “The Zay Initiative is a much needed collective platform, an overarching umbrella through which one gains access into Arab culture”. Widad will be joining Dr Reem El Mutwalli on Tuesday 16th February for Dialogues on the Art of Arab Fashion: My Life’s passion. For more information and to register please visit

Lina Mikati, Friend of The Zay Initiative, said “through collecting and documenting, The Zay Initiative is protecting our understanding of dress in war torn countries, for example it is conserving this cultural aspect in Syria, which may have been lost otherwise, due to present day circumstances. 

Sawsan Asfari, founder of Galilee Foundation and a Friend of The Zay Initiative said “Fashion is often a reflection of the cultural conversation of its time. It is a pleasure to support The Zay Initiative as it is a welcomed extension of our path in helping sustain the narrative”. 



As the Zay Initiative continues to be recognised as the go-to platform to understand Arab dress and adornment, we launched the Zay Initiative Library on the 4th February.  A dedicated subscribers’ platform to access all of our webinar material, the podcast series (launch Summer 2021) and other exclusive content. 

Our webinars, during which The Zay Initiative’s founder, Dr. Reem El Mutwalli, and a cultural expert discuss relevant topics on a bi-monthly basis, have continued to be very popular and we are delighted to announce they have been extended until December 2021. To date the webinars have covered jewelry, faith and the hijab, dress and diplomacy and more, using the webinars to explore the various links to culture and fashion. 

The Zay Initiative’s “Collection” is now live; a unique regional digital archive of Arabic dress, free of charge for everyone to explore. Easy to navigate, you can search the archive by categories such as decade, country, garment, and more. The documented detail, the digital glossary, and scale of the collection itself is painstakingly impressive, and it is an invaluable source for research, reference, or academic requirements; an excellent and unique asset to fashion designers, historical or design studies, and cultural relations. There will be over 1350 itemised articles in the Collection by the end of this year. 

For more details on becoming a Zay Friend and supporting us please visit: For more details on The Zay Initiative, visit


The Zay Initiative, a non-profit, UK registered initiative, is dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. Its goal is to empower and sustain global cross-cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds. 


The Zay Initiative, founded in 2018, is a UK registered non-for-profit operation, that celebrates the preservation of Arab heritage through the collection, documentation, conservation, and exhibition of traditional costume and dress, jewellery, ornaments and modes of bodily adornment. Founder Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, published author, with over 30 years of experience in art and cultural heritage has invested in a collection of historic dress over the course of the past decades (over 1350 articles of dress). The core of this growing collection is based on the UAE traditional dress (over 540 articles of dress), in addition to key examples from Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabi, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, and Lebanon. It includes examples acquired from the simplest rural families to the ruling families of the region., @thezayinitiative