Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri takes us on a journey through the Abu Dhabi desert, where dreams are laid bare and hope lives eternal

A diametric reality lies in wait for Harper’s Bazaar, Arabi November 2021 cover shoot, as a 50-strong team decamp to a desert expanse outside of Abu Dhabi. It’s an other-worldly setting – caught somewhere between Mad Max’s apocalyptic wasteland and the splendour of Lawrence of Arabia’s undulating drifts – where rugged fossilised dunes protrude from desert plains and shifting sands whip into a rhythmical frenzy. Enveloped in its own raw beauty, the landscape is poetic, dramatic and unassuming all at once. An intoxicating, contrasted play on the landscape increases tenfold with the arrival of Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri. Resplendent in a frothy blood-red Dolce & Gabbana gown and Cartier jewels, the stark, harsh backdrop immediately softens.

While the mercury has settled at 30 degrees, and the air is arid and dusty, Yasmine seems at home, undaunted by the elements. She clambers across rocks, kicks off her shoes to run across dunes… She’s fully committed. As we walk back to the trailer after one particular shot that required Yasmine to languish on a ‘liquid river’ running through the rocks, I ask whether her enthusiasm is faltering under the midday sun. She laughs and says no, explaining that when she woke up in the morning, she made a conscious decision to take pleasure in today, to try everything asked of her and bring positivity to the shoot.

Throughout the day, her outlook on life and attitude towards authenticity was incredibles

“I was never bullied because if someone tried to do that, I would have eaten them…I was thriving the whole time. I was looking forward to tomorrow. I was visualising a lot. I would go to swim training, I’d put on my headphones and listen to J.Lo, and I’d visualise living somewhere else, succeeding, booming, I was limitless. I looked forward to the future. I had an amazing childhood but I just looked forward to a better tomorrow. I just loved the idea of progress.”

“Sometimes I ask what I would do for my dreams. You’ve seen what happens in Hollywood. All the actresses have been harassed. But I have my principles and that role can go to hell. We think [Hollywood] is liberal but if I go there with my principles it won’t take me anywhere. I need to be real. And so, in the Middle East, I’m very dominant, very demanding and I’ve said ‘no’ since day one when nobody knew me. But you know what, it got me to a place where people have respect. That voice is in me.”

“I always see so many celebrities on the red carpet in Hollywood but I never see Arabs. I want to break through this and be the first one, but also not the last. I think, if I reach for the stars, I will achieve this.”

“Nobody was like Oprah Winfrey. No-one is like her. I never felt like I was wasting my time when watching her [on TV]. There was no negativity. I understood that she was bringing out success stories that gave you hope no matter where you were in the world. She gave me hope, as a little girl, and a vision to advocate for good change. I felt she did that, so I knew it was possible.”

“I want to be international, to be iconic, to live and die forever because of the legacy I leave behind. It’s the most difficult thing to do, but this is something that I really wish for. And I believe in the law of attraction – when you believe in something so badly, it will happen. And this is how I am here, on this couch with you, shooting for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Every year, I make a list of my dreams and then I go back to the list to see how I’m doing.”

“They were casting for the role of Princess Jasmine, looking everywhere around the world. I sent so many pictures and then got a call from the casting agent for an interview, and then they asked if I could sing. I had to send them a tape of me singing ‘A Whole New World’…I tried so many times. I’d drive and sing, at the gym, in the shower…But it was horrible. I was horrible! I didn’t hear back.”

“I’m at my most peaceful at sunset. It’s when I meditate and it’s my time of gratitude when I’m most at peace with myself. It’s like I’m praying, my heart and soul are open.”


Juste un Clou earrings in yellow gold and diamonds, Dhs25,800, Cartier. Dress, Dhs36,000, Dolce & Gabbana

Art direction: Jolie Wernette-Horn
Stylist: Anna Castan
Stylist’s assistant: Natasha O’Meara
Fashion assistant: Nazanin Jahani
Set stylist: Lauren Haslam
Make-up: Toni Malt at Things by People
Hair: Diego Miranda
Manicurist: Miriam Cavallin at Toni Malt Academy
Digital editor: Sara Tardiff
Photographer: Greg Swales
Photographer’s assistants: Mark Offemaria and Mark Anthony Navarro
Videographer: Antonio Lavoisier
Videographer’s assistant: Shane Cairn
Runners: Mark Andrew Navarro and Raymound Ronald
Producer: Laura Prior
Location Manager: Ahmed Shami


Pics Credits – Harper’s Bazaar, Pinterest, Instagram




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