Mecca Laa Laa talks to a young girl whilst wearing a 'Burqini' on her first surf lifesaving patrol at North Cronulla Beach February 4, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The red and yellow 'Burqini' was specially designed for Muslim lifesavers to allow females to fulfil both their patrolling and religious obligations.
Credit: Matt King

Could a “bikini revolution” be the next significant social force to sweep across the Middle East?

The editor of an Arab women’s magazine based in Israel believes that it could.

Lilac, a Nazareth-based magazine published in Arabic, recently released a cover featuring a model posing in a skimpy, black-sequined bikini top, a first for any glossy in the entire region.

Yara Mashour, Lilac’s editor-in-chief, described her unprecedented September issue as the latest in a decade-long effort to break regional taboos and empower women living in the Middle East.

“I don't recall this being done elsewhere in the Arab world,” Mashour told the Daily Mail. “I have been working for a decade on changing society so Arab women can have more rights and freedom in the Middle East.”

In the more conservative Middle Eastern countries, women are forbidden from appearing in public without wearing a head veil at the very least.

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Still, the idea of scantily-dressed women in public could rattle some even in the more liberal Arab countries. Last year, many Egyptians were outraged when private photos of presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei’s bikini-clad, adult daughter appeared on Facebook.

But none of that seems to bother Mashour.

“I am definitely not worried about the reactions, because I set the standards of my magazine, and the Arab woman is a fan of the magazine. She wants what I give her in the magazine. I expect the cover to raise discussions, but I don't expect an earthquake,” Mashour told the Daily Mail.

The cover model, Huda Naccache, a 22-year-old Arab-Israeli “beauty queen”, also seems to be taking the exposure in stride.

Naccache, a relative newcomer to the world of international modeling, is hoping to make a splash representing Israel at the Miss Earth competition in Thailand later this year.

An intrepid reporter from The World had this to say on her prospects:

Naccache is, technically speaking, drop dead gorgeous. She is both curvy and model-thin and she stands about six feet tall in heels. She has only been modeling for two years and has already grabbed attention in the mainstream Israeli media.

Check out all the photos from Lilac’s September issue here.

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