Thursday, July 21, 2022

How Hadia Ghaleb exposed Egypt’s Classism through her swimsuits

In summer 2022, Dubai-based Egyptian fashionista and influencer Hadia Ghaleb really made it and proved herself as not only a successful businesswoman “or entrepreneur” but also a trendsetter.

The AUC alum who is among Egypt’s early fashionistas and influencers launched this summer her first swimsuit line.

Aiming for inclusivity, Ghaleb’s swimsuit is a multi-pieces-one that can be a modest burkini or modest swimsuit or one-piece-swimsuit. 

Hadia Ghaleb
Hadia Ghaleb and her swimsuits "Hadia is on the right" 

It is indeed inclusive “despite I do not see big sizes” but inclusive for Upper class at least in Egypt because we are speaking about a price range between LE 2,500 to 3,600 “in time of economic crisis”

With flashy colors that reminds me of the psychedelic trippy palettes of the 1960s and an excellent material according to friends who saw and touched it in North coast this year, it is a bestselling despite all odds.

Girls and women bought it and share their photos in Hadia Ghaleb’s swimsuit on social media whether Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. Girls wear it not only in Egypt but rather abroad to show off. 

Young actresses began to wear it and share their photos online.

Due to its success and popularity as well as huge price tag, it did not take long time to find that there are cheap knockoffs of her popular and trendy swimsuits especially the Burkini style sold for between LE 250-350. This is a sign of a tremendous success.

Hadia Ghaleb's cheap knock off
The cheap knockoff is a bit horrible

Now Ghaleb proved herself as a businesswoman more than an influencer with her swimsuit lin and fired back against those haters who mocked her for years.

For me, I believe Hadia Ghaleb unintentionally did something many failed to do.

She proved that the Egyptian society is classist to the bone :The Egyptian upper class welcomed the modest swimsuit as long as it got the Hadia Ghaleb’s price tag with four digits in Egyptian pound.

For the first time since the emergence of the "new Sahel” or Sidi Abdel Rahman resorts we do not read or hear about how Burkini is not welcomed in this or that resort.

Hadia and her bus in Marassi
Hadia and her bus in Marassi 

The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry says that Burkini is not banned and should not be banned in Egyptian resorts as long as it is made from approved materials.

In reality, things are different as there are certain resort chains that ban burkinis from swimming pools. “There is a resort that took things furthers and does not sell to veiled women its over one-million-Egyptian-pounds-chalets”

Annually we had this fight online of Bikini vs Burkini but this year it is all about Hadia Ghaleb’s swimsuit.

It is not a secret but some in the Upper class look down on the veiled women even if they are from their own class as vulgar because for them the veil is associated with lower classes and farmers where the women used to cover their heads before the Islamic veil started to reappear and spread in the Egyptian society in its modern version from mid-1970s till its domination in late 1990s.

That sentiment was expressed openly when former presidential hopeful and political activist/ TV host Bothaina Kamel slammed on Twitter two girls wearing veil saying veil was worn in the past by women who either got curly bad hair or had lice or worked as cook “as maids in houses”.

Kamel says that she did not mean the veiled women in general but meant the two veiled young girls who appeared in a Tiktok video mocking how they could not find clothes that fit them in chains like H&M.

The famous media figure claims that she did not intend to insult veiled women, but her words are clear, and it is the elephant in the room. A Freudian tweet that I see reflected in the classist posts on Facebook from time to time by members of Al Gazeera sports club.

I read that they stop allowing burkini in the famous old club this summer.

On the other side, we got some in lower classes who look down on the Muslim women who do not cover their heads as immoral rich, and girls should not imitate them.

Yes, religious conservatism plays a huge role in this polarization between classes but that “the poor go to heaven and the rich go to hell” or “We are open-minded seculars, and you are poor Daesh-ians” got another contributing factor playing a destructive part which is classism.

Classism is not only an elephant in the room but rather another river in Egypt.

Needless to say, true radical conservatives do not allow their women to wear burkinis in the first place.

For me, I believe Burkini plays a role in true empowerment and enabling many women especially from lower classes in Egypt to enjoy the true joy of swimming. I saw by my own eyes how it allowed grandmothers to swim in swimming pools and seas as well as to learn swimming itself. I love seeing old grandmas swimming in their burkinis after decades of losing this joy. I wish my grandma saw it honestly.

We got a whole market now of ladies swimming schools where women from all ages and backgrounds learn swimming because of that modest swimsuit some regard as bad thing !! 

@soheirfaragswimming جربتوا قبل كدة تتمرنوا سباحة في البحر؟ #fyp #foryou #foryoupagе #swim #swimming #swimmer #swimmers #ladiestri##swimlessons #girlstrip ♬ original sound - soheirfaragswimming

Oh and screw France and its stupid laws. 

Back to Hadia Ghaleb, kudos for her and for playing it right choosing her target market perfectly.


  1. I don't understand. These can't possibly be swimsuits. They'd put the swimmer in danger of getting tangled in a hem and drowning.

  2. I liked both your articles in this issue. Especially on the Ghaleb burkini/classism - have been writing about other establishments which exclude hijab. Mostly these have bars and the idea is that women wearing hijab will discourage those drinking; decisions are made by management.


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