Saudi Arabia, April 13: After several deferrals, the first ever fashion week in Saudi Arabia is due to start in the capital city Riyadh, on Thursday. Local Arab designers and European fashion houses- Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli will star in the inaugural Arab Fashion Week. The event will take place at the Ritz Carlton.

Photography will be prohibited as the models won’t be attired in traditional abayas. Men will not be allowed to attend the catwalk shows either, though they were allowed at the opening ceremony earlier this week.

According to a Reuters report, models and makeup artists gearing up for the event expressed surprise that the fashion event was taking place in the “deeply conservative Muslim Kingdom”.

The event had amassed interest of international guests wanting to attend, as a result, the event was postponed multiple times citing delays in issuing visas and problems in deciding the venue. “The decision for postponing the event was made simply so that we are able to accommodate all the international guests who had applied to attend,” Jacob Abrian, the chief executive of the Arab Fashion Council told The New York Times.

Also, Arab Fashion Council is planning to cite Saudi Arabia as a hub for an emerging fashion trend. Recently, it opened its regional office in Riyadh.

When the project was announced, Layla Issa Abuzaid, country director for Saudi Arabia at the Arab Fashion Council said that the event in Riyadh would be more than a world-class event, The New York Times mentioned.

Though women in Saudi Arabia face number of restrictions in their day to day lives, they have achieved small successes over time in their fight for equality. Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive from June 2018, ending the ban on women driving.