To Give And To Receive: The Region’s Most Stylish Philanthropists Talk Charity During Ramadan

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This Ramadan, charity begins at home. So who better to dress some of the region’s most dynamic fundraisers than Ralph Lauren – one of fashion’s biggest philanthropists

Linda Taha

40, Jordanian, homemaker

Linda wears: Dress, Dhs45,790, Ralph Lauren

For Jordanian mother-of-two Linda Taha Ramadan means many things. Charity, health and family are her focus, as well as maintaining “a spiritual peace of mind and soul” that she says she achieves by praying and spending time with her loved ones. “Ramadan is the month of gathering with the people that I love. I cherish these moments because they bring everyone together around a table to catch up away from our busy lives in Dubai. It allows all of our family and friends to re-connect and enjoy our time over iftar or suhoor,” she says, adding that taking care of her wellbeing, and that of her children, 11-year-old Omar and six-year-old Meral, is what matters most to her.To Linda, being charitable isn’t just for Ramadan, but is something she focuses on all year round – “There is no feeling better than giving,” she says. As a mother herself, children’s charities are important to her and she cites Amman-based Toys 4 Tots as one of her favourite organisations. “It is a charity that donates toys to underprivileged kids at refugee camps and orphanages. It spreads joy to kids from all countries and faiths. I think everyone should support it.”

Her love of entertaining over Ramadan comes with the responsibility of looking good, and this is somewhere Linda excels. A self-confessed fashion girl, she enjoys getting dressed up for an occasion and loves the Ramadan-specific collections that emerge at this time of year, particularly admiring the way women dress more modestly but still with edge. Her choice this year are long kaftans, blouses, and gowns by Ralph Lauren – “I love their elegant simplicity,” she says.

Joanna Dogmoch

40, German-Syrian, founder of Sunrise K Foundation

Jo wears: Dress, Dhs12,430; Necklace, Dhs12,040; Shoes, Dhs5,400, all Ralph Lauren.

For Joanna Dogmoch, raising awareness for glaucoma isn’t just professional – it’s personal. Her son, Kyran, was diagnosed with the eye disease at four months old. “We didn’t know anything about glaucoma, so when that happened it was a big shock,” she recalls.

“But it’s actually the third biggest disease in the world after heart disease and cancer, with 70 million people affected at the moment, rising to 120 million in a few years.”

In 2013, Jo set up the Sunrise K Foundation with her sister – the food writer and presenter Dalia Dogmoch Soubra. “The foundation has a 10-10-10 goal,” she explains. “All the money we raise is to fund a 10-minute advanced surgery technique to achieve an eye pressure of around 10 mmHg, that will last for 10 years. At the moment my son has to have surgery every two months, but if we can find this new treatment, it will be as close to a cure as we can get.”

To this end Jo organises the annual Dubai fundraiser The Global Gift Gala, supported by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin, 50 Cent and Haifa Wehbe. For the many charity events she attends, Jo turns to Ralph Lauren. “I don’t like Ralph Lauren, I love him,” she jokes. “It used to be a little too sporty but about eight years ago they started using beautiful neutral colours like brown and gold and the fit is so elegant and comfortable.”

Although she’s working for her charity all year round, the holy month has a special place in her heart. “Ramadan is a beautiful time because it makes us realise how blessed we are the other 11 months of the year,” she says. “We should all try to make a small gesture to help others every day if we can.”

Dalia El Ali 

34, Palestinian-Lebanese, founder of Dee by Dalia

Dalia wears: Dress, Dhs38,810; Cuff, Dhs5,105; Shoes, Dhs4,300, all Ralph Lauren.

Born and raised in the UAE, Dalia El Ali considers herself a “true Dubian” and growing up, she says, Ralph Lauren was the international label of choice. “As a child I always wore Ralph Lauren so it has a special place in my heart,” she smiles. “It’s a classic brand for day or evening and I love buying it for my sons and my husband.”

She started her own label Dee by Dalia in 2013, after seeking a change from her career in investment banking. “I always loved fashion but after having my two boys I wanted more free time so I decided to go for it.” She says that growing her brand from a fun sideline to an international business, which supplies Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s, has been the biggest challenge. “It’s not my fun little baby anymore, I have people’s salaries to pay.”

She’s so busy running the company that for Dalia, Ramadan isn’t just a religious month, it’s a moment of reflection. “In Dubai we live such a busy, fast-paced life it’s the only time we get real quality time with family and friends.” Although she donates to the Palestinian children’s charity PCRF all year round, Dalia spends holy month visiting Dubai’s labour camps to give meals to the workers. “This year I’m going to take my eldest son Rakan, who is eight, with me,” she says. “It’s important for them to see that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. It’s the least we can do.”

Zina Khair 

44, Syrian, NGO-founder

Zina wears: Dress, Dhs31,835; Shoes, Dhs1,930; both Ralph Lauren.

For Zina Khair, charity work isn’t just a vocation, it’s a way of life. “Helping others has been a part of my family routine for as long as I can remember,” she says. “Even as a very young child growing up in Syria I would share my candies with less fortunate young kids in our streets or donate my pocket money to underprivileged people. Every summer I would help teachers at the local orphanage or read to the elderly in nursing homes.”

In 2005, Zina set up her NGO which helps blind and visually-impaired people in Syria and although she moved to Dubai in 2012, she continues to support these projects in her home nation. “We refurbished an entire boarding school for over 200 kids, providing all the students with braille machines and making audio recordings of thousands of school books,” she explains. Although Zina experiences the “rewarding” glow of charitable work all year round, Ramadan feels “especially warm… it’s the month when you feel closer to God, to family, to the good in general. The month when you count your blessings.”

The classic elegance of a Ralph Lauren dress inspires similar feelings for her. “When you enter one of Ralph Lauren’s stores, or look at one of his adverts in a magazine, you see the world as better than it is, but you do not see a different world,” she explains. “He isn’t interested in being edgy, he’s about convincing us how wonderful the world would be if it was more authentic, warm and real. I love getting that feeling every time I wear his clothes.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

Fashion Editor: Gemma Deeks

Photography: Vivienne Balla at MMG

Make-up: Hannah Broke at MMG

Hair: Manual Losada at MMG

Fashion Assistant: Maria Cayhan

With thanks to The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

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