Charlotte Leslie becomes a patron of the Zay Initiative

Press releases 15 Feb 2021


CMEC's Managing Director, Charlotte Leslie, 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.

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." 

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”. 



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.           @zayinitiative