Yasamine Ekrami, founder of Fitra First, explained she had been frustrated trying to find modest clothing when participating in sports. Faced with the challenge, she designed a brand of women’s athletic clothing. Her line of sportswear is breathable, looks good and offers a modest fit.
Nearly 1000 people gathered under the hot sun at Lake Fairfax in Reston on Sunday, April 30, to enjoy a day of shopping, eating and entertainment at the Al-Souk-Arabian Market. Leina Wahba MD, FAAP, and Rana Emad, members of Ladies Club, organized the market that was supported by regional-based organizations and businesses.
“The goal of Al Souk-Arabian Market is to focus on women entrepreneurs from different Middle Eastern cultures and backgrounds, and empower the women and their small businesses by offering them somewhere they can sell their art and products. They are all American women," Wahba said. “We want to open doors, hearts, and minds to share awareness of different cultures."
While most al souks are found in ancient Middle Eastern cities and comprise a labyrinth of stalls, Sunday’s Al Souk- Arabian Market overlooked Lake Fairfax. Set in the style of a traditional open-air market, but protected from the hot sun by picnic shelters and tents, 32 vendors, mostly women, set up tables bursting with colorful products.
VISITORS wandered and shopped the tables of Turkish, Jordanian, Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese and Egyptian handmade items in true bazaar fashion, slowly walking about, bumping into each other, but all welcomed by vendors and other customers. Tables overflowed with Fair Trade art, home accessories and prayer rugs; luxury fashion, modest athletic wear, jewelry; and natural cosmetics with botanical ingredients.
The aromas of handmade sweets filled the air. Moroccan pastries by Fadoua Elaamrani and traditional Egyptian Kahk cookies and petit fours by MonaMizoCookies sold quickly, as did canapés and smoothies from other vendors. Many families took their food down toward the banks of Lake Fairfax and enjoyed a picnic-style lunch under the shade trees.
Many vendors sold out of their products by early evening. When asked who would benefit by the sales, nearly all of vendors present explained regardless of where their products were made, locally by them or designed locally and produced overseas, proceeds or a portion of the proceeds were to be returned to their Arabian countries to help humanitarian efforts.
In addition to the vendors, two nonprofit organizations presented crafts and food made by Syrian refugees and Palestinian widows. The first was the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA), a nonpolitical, educational and humanitarian organization. According to a SAMA representative at the market, funds raised by SAMA help to support humanitarian efforts not only in North America but Sudan as well. SAMA has performed screenings for heart disease, not uncommon in Sudan due to untreated strep infections, provided cervical cancer screenings and cleft palate restorations. During one recently funded project, SAMA renovated a Sudanese ICU unit, providing additional beds and space, so patients in the ICA did not have to share beds.
ALSO ON HAND were representatives from iMPACT. The mission of iMPACT is to assist individuals in the United States and the Middle East affected by war, poverty and natural disasters, empowering change and rebuilding communities.
When asked when Ladies Club’s next event will be, Wahba said they are seeking to produce it shortly after the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, which is June 25. For more information about Ladies Club and its upcoming events visit www.facebook.com/Ladies-Club-1729649870645962/