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The Egyptian Woman Behind Jawhara Magazine Is Changing Western Perceptions about Arab Women

“I am a person first and a woman second,” Egyptian-American Gigi Mostafa reminds every Arab woman in her very own Jawhara Magazine where you don’t have to be a Kardashian to be worthy of the spotlight.

While modern day media is primarily based on the traditional conventions of print media - you know, the sensationalised titles, the photoshopped models on the covers, the exaggeration of information to make things slightly more interesting - it’s also starting to see a gradual change. Publications are now constantly looking to write about ethical topics, using their platform to raise awareness about social issues, and are generally attempting to move away from tabloid-style reporting. Perhaps the nature of modern media, which is primarily published online, has allowed more room for readers to call bullshit when they see it.

Taking modern media to a whole new level is Gigi Mostafa who has dedicated her entire publication, Jawhara Magazine (jewel magazine), to the women of the Arab World. By a whole new level we mean, not only does she shine the light on and support the achievements of Middle Eastern women, but she also tells us that she features “literally any average woman who is striving for success and wants to make a difference”. So you don’t have to be a Kardashian, or a high-profile celebrity to earn the spotlight in Jawhara because "there’s a huge difference between being famous and being successful,” Mostafa explains, “a lot of people forget about that". 

There’s a huge difference between being famous and being successful, a lot of people forget about that.

And so when Mostafa presented the magazine to the people around her, she recalls many of them being surprised at how progressive Arab women actually are – as if there should be a scale for that anyway! Her magazine, which initially started out as a Senior Thesis Project in 2016, hit the ground running in print amongst the chaos of New York. Mostafa started seeing a change in the way westerners view Arab women. “I believe [this] is UHH-MAZING and part of my goal for this entire publication,” she tells us.The entire magazine has been designed and written by Mostafa herself. Born and raised in the USA, and a fine arts graduate in electronic design and multimedia, she has always had a love and passion for editorial design. “I feel like it’s always a delightful challenge; whether its using the right content or making sure everything fits on the page,” she says. Eventually this passion brewed and Mostafa found herself writing the 100-page magazine for her thesis project, creating a website, putting together a video teaser and marketing campaign. The magazine is currently available in print, but will be also available online soon.

I am a person first and a woman second.

For Mostafa, the magazine serves as a virtual world filled with relatable topics for the everyday Arab woman, from aspiring young hard working women, to mums who want to kick ass at work. “I wanted any woman who picked up my magazine or read it, wherever, to feel like she’s talking to her girlfriend at a coffee shop!” Dubbing the publication tag line as, I am a person first and a woman second, Mostafa believes every Middle Eastern woman deserves to know that she is appreciated by her society “regardless of her social status, religion, marital status, or education”.

This is the time to challenge the status quo.

In today’s world, women are bombarded with idealistic versions of who they should be or how they should look like in order to be accepted and fit in, as if being a human merely isn’t enough. “I honestly think that’s a bunch of bullshit!” Mostafa confesses, “This kind of media restricts how the West sees us and how WE see ourselves… This is the time to challenge the status quo and that’s honestly all I want to do with Jawhara; to encourage women to be themselves, be successful in anything they do, look fab in their veils an own that shit for real!”
According to Mostafa, every woman needs a little reminder that she is a Jawhara, regardless of who or where in the world she is.

Check out the magazine teaser below.

Check out Jawhara Magazine on Instagram here, and Gigi Mostafa here.