This post has been updated throughout.
Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz was Vogue Arabia's inaugural editor-in-chief, appointed in July 2016 — but after only two issues, she's been fired, reports Business of Fashion. Aljuhani Abdulaziz has vacated her role and Manuel Arnaut, launching EIC of Architectural Digest Middle East who's also worked at international editions of Vogue and GQ, will take her place.
"As the launch editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz has earned a place in the history of fashion and Vogue," said Shashi Menon, the CEO and publisher of Vogue Arabia and its Dubai-based publishing partner Nervora, in a statement released on Friday. He went on to say that Arnaut "brings over a decade of Condé Nast editorial experience combined with a strong track record of regional success.... We look forward to him building on Vogue Arabia’s foundation."
Arnaut echoed the sentiment, commenting that "having grown up devouring each page of its international editions," he is "deeply honored to have the opportunity to come ‘home,’ at the helm of Vogue Arabia."
Aljuhani Abdulaziz, meanwhile, minced no words about the conflict that led to her firing.
"It had initially been my intention to build this important and groundbreaking edition of Vogue from inception to a mature magazine in line with others in the Vogue stable," Aljuhani Abdulaziz told BoF. "I stand behind my values and vision for Vogue Arabia and I refused to compromise when I felt the publisher's approach conflicted with the values which underpin our readers and the role of the Editor-in-Chief in meeting those values in a truly authentic way." She went on to say that she was "honored to have enabled the Vogue brand to firmly and uniquely establish itself in a way that allows a fashion magazine in the Arab World to fuse traditional values with aspirational fashion."
A member of Saudi royalty, Aljuhani Abdulaziz made a name for herself in Western fashion by being a street style favorite at international fashion weeks and an early champion of young brands like Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung. Her reputation in the East was long-running, both because of her family's heritage and because of the members-only fashion boutiques she established in Riyadh and Doha called D'NA.
At Vogue Arabia, Aljuhani Abdulaziz oversaw the title's first issue, which caused a buzz by featuring Gigi Hadid wearing an embroidered veil. While some criticized Aljuhani Abdulaziz's choice to use Hadid, others defended the selection based on Hadid's half-Palestinian heritage.
The announcement of Aljuhani Abdulaziz's exit comes on the heels of a party celebrating Vogue Arabia's latest issue just last week in Qatar, which Aljuhani Abdulaziz attended alongside Suzy Menkes and Condé Nast International CEO Jonathan Newhouse. Condé Nast, Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Nervora, the Dubai-based publishing house that partnered to launch Vogue Arabia, have all declined to comment on the editor-in-chief position.
Note: This story has been updated to include confirmation of Aljuhani Abdulaziz's firing, her statement, and statements from Nervora and Arnaut.