It has been a while since we have looked forward to a full-fledged UAE reality TV series. Not since we were promised Paris Hilton choosing a best friend in Dubai back in 2008 can we remember being so excited about an upcoming show. Launching tomorrow, not only will fashion programme AYA be an enjoyable watch, it also demonstrates the evolving entertainment landscape and the chasm between Hilton’s exploits and modern watching habits. Whereas the hotel heiress’ was set to be a sequence of 45-minute epics broadcast once a week on a traditional television channel, AYA will focus on four protagonists completing style challenges across the country in 20 minutes available to watch any time anywhere on YouTube. New episodes will be released every Friday for free and in them you will see the hosts guided by a guest UAE-based influencer expert in order to fulfil tasks.
We spoke to one of the AYA crew, Yara Algain, to find out more.
What can you tell us about the show and how does having your own programme make you feel?
The show is about four girls with a passion for fashion. Each of us have our own distinct style and we project our personality with what we wear. We have a competition with each episode hosted by an influencer, and here is where our passion for fashion is usually portrayed. We have to be quick and elaborate to send a specific message to our audience. Having our own programme is truly a blessing. Personally it’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was really young. I have always wanted to be a presenter, so putting them together is literally the start of my dream. And as a message to everyone, when you want something bad enough it will come to you as long as you have hope and patience.
What made you get into fashion?
I used to make clothes for my dolls with the old pieces of garments that I had and I would sew them together to make an outfit. As I got older I started becoming more aware of fashion trends in magazines, TV and online, but I didn’t want to follow them. I wanted to create my own trends. I wanted to be different and portray myself as a person with ‘distinct’ style. I started buying basic clothing and redesigning them, adding beads, tears, or drawing on them. In high school I was voted ‘most fashionable’ because my style was not the norm and in university I was known as the girl with ‘weird style’, not by my name. Slowly my friends would come to me and show me their style and tell me that I’ve inspired them, and that would make me so happy. So, fashion and style really represent who everyone is, and sometimes you need to come out of your comfort zone to express who you really are. To me the first impression of someone would be what they’re wearing. You can tell if someone is smart, funny or even lazy by what they’re wearing. Also, depending on your mood, you can wear whoever you want to be that day!
Who are your fashion and beauty inspirations?
As a teenager, someone like Amy Winehouse was inspiring to me because she portrayed herself so differently in the music industry with her hair, makeup and her famous ballerina pumps and I thought she was really cool for being different. Today, the fashion inspirations are many different people depending on my mood but there’s Arwa Al Banawi, a Saudi fashion designer who portrays Saudi contemporary fashion for women on the go. She mixes high-end fashion with street wear and is usually inspired by Saudi culture and women empowerment. Another fashion inspiration is Dana Hourani. She usually represents her style through elaborate unique pieces that are atypical. She also usually wears neutral or dark colours and they’re the colours I go for.
Tell us a little about the influencers you meet during the show.
Everyone had a different message to send and everyone tackled a different objective: one was red carpet fashion, one was related to star signs, and one was related to accessories and by that you can tell that there is so much more to fashion than just a piece of clothing. It’s more of a story.
How supportive have your friends and family been?
My family have been the most supportive. My mum has been telling me for the longest time to try to do something that involved fashion and media, and her dreams came true (as well as mine)! My dad has been my number one fan since I started. He calls me almost every day asking to see new images and videos and he’s just so proud. My friends are very excited to see this journey.
Did you encounter any difficulties with making the show? What do you think is its overall message?
So far there are no difficulties. We all get along and all have the same message. I think the most challenging part will be in the future. We need to see how our audience will react to our content and if they really relate to it. We hope to make a difference to them and make them realise that fashion is a statement and it’s a first silent step to building your confidence. If you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing I guarantee you’ll be the most confident person.
How do you think being based in the UAE offers people more opportunities to live their dreams? Do you think something like this would have happened if you lived elsewhere?
The UAE is rapidly growing and it’s the heart of all businesses. There are a variety of audiences that we can reach, such as the GCC, expats from all over the world, and if we look at the neighboring country, Saudi Arabia, I think it’s a blessing that we have this opportunity at this time. This is the time that everything is changing and all girls are following their passions. There are thousands of them that are so creative and passionate in fashion and art and are actually building their careers through social media platforms. Dubai is the New York of the GCC, it’s simply where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do and everyone is really watching you
What are your hopes for the series? Who would you most hope watches it?
I hope that the series takes us somewhere big and reaches out to the rest of the world. I hope the main message is delivered and that we are the first YouTube channel with four girls with a passion for fashion in the GCC. You never know we might fly out to different parts of the world and even meet someone like Oprah!
Did any of you know each other before the series? Did you all become much closer during filming?
We all didn’t know each other, but from the first day we all clicked together. We talk almost every day even if we’re not shooting and we’ve become like sisters. We constantly help each other out personally and professionally. We are always laughing and I think the funniest moments usually come during the end of the day when we’re really tired and have shot for a long time. We start forgetting what to stay and just blank out. But we usually make the most out of it.