Fashion Magazine Celebrates Women at DC Event

Abeer Al Otaiba may be a growing name in the fashion industry now, but it wasn’t long ago that she was an engineer.
In a recent interview, Abeer who is now the Founder and Creative Director of SemSem said that she came from a family of engineers and that she didn’t want to disappoint her mother, father, and uncles by going into a different field. But she said that her heart just wasn’t into it.

“I’ve loved fashion since I was a little girl,” she said in the interview. When her parents bought her clothes, she would also “alter and personalize” them. Though she had wanted to study fashion, she chose civil engineering out of fear of disappointing her family.

However, she says that her background in engineering is part of why she’s so successful in fashion. Of it, she says that “the attention to detail, high design quality, and functionality” were things she incorporated into her line.
She knew that it was time to switch careers when her and Yousef Al Otaiba’s ( daughter, Samia, was born. Her daughter inspired her to not only achieve her own dreams but to give back to women and girls. SemSem, which is her daughter’s nickname, often partners up with charities and foundations to help with education for girls and gender equality.

After two years and four collections, Abeer is finally proud of her amazing accomplishments. A quote from her father has helped her keep her head up through the rough times of remotely managing her growing fashion go-to. “I always follow my father’s advice: You shouldn’t have to be the smartest girl in the room, but you have to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing and listen to them.”

When asked how she’s raising her daughter to be strong, Abeer had the most beautiful response.
“With both my son and daughter [I] focus on acts of kindness. … I say ‘Tell me something kind you did at school today, something kind someone did for you…’. She says that she encourages her daughter to dream big. At age 4, all little girls want to be princesses, but Abeer tells her daughter that a princess is not enough.

Abeer concluded the interview with gratitude. “Operating as a female civil engineer in the Arab world was challenging, but I am [a] stronger person because of the path I chose.” (
Abeer Al Otaiba is truly a testament to what every woman is capable of and an inspiration to all those who dream big.

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