Hadia Ghaleb

. £ .CO.ZA GO ONLINE to see Hadia’s fiveday style diary When I first met Hadia Ghaleb, she was running around New York City like a social media-crazy kid, balancing her iPhone on benches to shoot her star jumps, in neon sneakers, on 5th Avenue. That evening she shared her Insta-video with me, perfectly edited and Hyperlapsed to an infectious electrobeat. The opening frame: #ELGHaleb X NYC. Ghaleb has made her name as an Instagram sensation, clocking up 75 000 followers and an average of 1 500 likes per photo, and has garnered probably the most avid Insta-fan base in Africa. Her most re-grammed post to date is an impossibly striking snap of her in a red lace romper-cum-ballgown with the pyramids in the background.

It all started back in 2012, when she was bored in transit at Heathrow Airport and decided to download the app. Three years later and it’s her travels around the globe and daring sense of style that keep a hungry following coming back for more. Ghaleb describes her daily get-up as sometimes minimal, sometimes masculine, or preppy, or Coachella-inspired; at other times like a carnival. ‘It really depends on my mood,’ she says. But pushing the boundaries of fashion in conservative Egypt has not been easy. Mesh tops, midriff-baring tees and culottes are not readily accepted in North Africa. ‘I feel like I’m not myself when I’m in Cairo.

Hadia Ghaleb Photo Gallery

I feel like I always have to cover up. Skirts, crop tops and short summer dresses are out of the question,’ she says. Nevertheless she works around the cultural strictures by wearing what she wants at private parties and events, and when travelling overseas or holidaying at the country’s more liberal coastal resorts. Her mission is to one day open a college of fashion that provides education about the importance of an industry she loves. At just 22, Ghaleb’s burgeoning Instagram account has resulted in a plethora of brands approaching her to promote their products It is for this reason that she founded her production company, Ghaleb Production House. Now, when a brand wants to send her a gift, or post images of her wearing their clothes, she requests a meeting to negotiate a business relationship. It’s a smart and commercially savvy move that many influencers fail to acknowledge, but with a firstclass degree in economics, it’s no surprise that Ghaleb cottoned on to the exploitation of bloggers by brands.

In the last six months Ghaleb has worked with more than 25 clients that included big retailers like Topshop, Bershka, Charles & Keith and Guess Jeans, and recruited multiple influencers to increase the social media footprint of landmark campaigns around events like the opening of Vince Camuto in Cairo. Highlights for her include working with luxury houses around the world, in Las Vegas, Dubai, Berlin, San Francisco and Abu Dhabi. Last year sports giant Nike visited her home in Egypt to film a documentary about her life, and Style. com/Arabia named her one of the leading fashion icons in the Middle East. What shines through in this is her work ethic of knuckling down and demonstrating grit, determination and dedication. And her dreams for the future? Starting her own label, getting into real estate and trading on the stock market. But that’s for later, she tells me. Somehow, I doubt that very much.

Hadia Ghaleb

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