Maria Al-Masani (born 1984) is a Yemeni and Canadian fashion designer and public relations executive who co-founded the Yemen Rights Monitor, a blog to record human rights violations. In 2012, she was named as one of eight 'agents of change' by CNN's Inside the Middle East.
Early life and career
Maria Al-Masani was born in Russia and moved to Yemen at age three. At 16, she moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, attending a local college before relocating to Ottawa to study economic development at Carleton University.
Al-Masani came to national and international attention as the first contestant of Yemeni origin to enter the Miss Universe pageant at the national level for Miss Universe Canada, and the first Yemeni contestant to win a title, of Miss Congeniality at the competition in 2010. She also worked for two political parties in the Parliament of Canada, one as an intern in 2006, the other as a staffer in 2013.
Al-Masani founded Yemen Rights Monitor during the Arab Spring in 2011, providing a means of updating news via social media when traditional news media had been blocked – she was later cited by Andy Carvin as one of his most reliable sources about opposition activities in Yemen.
She has appeared as an activist against forced marriage on Al Jazeera's The Stream, recounting her own escape from a potential forced marriage in Yemen. In 2012, Al-Masani was among the speakers at a summit hosted by Yahoo! in Cairo on women's use of technology to create positive change. In 2011, she spoke at the Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference, discussing how social media has been used to circumvent censorship in Yemen.
Maria Al-Masani supports free speech as the foundation of western civilization, modern civil society and decries censorship inspired by her late uncle Dr Abdulaziz Al Saqqaf.[better source needed] Dr Al-Saqqaf was the winner of the N.P.C.'s International Award for Freedom of the Press for 1995. He was the founder of Yemen's leading English language newspaper, Yemen Times, and also was a leading economist at the state-owned Sana'a University, as well as Yemen's top human rights activist who died under a suspicious car accident, after many threats, with indicators that it may have been a carefully coordinated assassination that his heirs want to investigate[better source needed] Maria Al-Masani continues promoting his legacy for freedom of speech her uncle Dr As-Saqqaf sacrificed so much for.
Al-Masani serves on the board of Madbakh Women's International, a group whose projects have included raising funds for the National Boroma Fistula Hospital in Somalia. She also discussed fistula on Al Jazeera's The Stream and in a feature in the Canadian political and government newspaper The Hill Times. She fights for freedom with responsibility, dignity, respect and fairness. Her idea of women's rights activism, which parts from second-wave feminism since 1964, by accepting personal responsibility for themselves, accepting reality and empowering themselves to achieve their dreams rather than the marxist feminist intersectional idea of the eternal victim that generates learned helplessness. She believes fairness, taking personal responsibility, internal locus of control, and respect are necessary to achieve freedom. She stated, "You can't change the world overnight, but you can change how you react to it. By accepting the world for what it is, and changing how you react to it while making the best use of resources available to you, gradually, you can change the world, empower yourself, your family and your community."
Happy Yemens and Haute Couture
Since Sept 24, 2014, during Yemeni civil war, Al-Masani started a collective Happy Yemens www.happyyemens.org to raise awareness for her besieged town of Taiz, besieged by Houthis. The expose of corruption had caused an outrage amongst many pro Houthi radical Islamist Twitter platform users, especially her post on UN corruption in collaboration with Houthi militias in Yemen. As her uncle Dr. Abdulaziz Alsaqqaf, founder of Yemen Times, was assassinated for his endeavors for a free press in Yemen, Al-Masani supports journalist ethics and truth in media, asking journalists to fact check, and is a supporter for truth in media for GamerGate. Since 2015, she has been studying classic haute couture at the Richard Robinson Academy, a school found by Richard Robinson who worked under Christian Dior himself. Her blog Ottawa Royal Style, popular among elegant discerning women www.ottawaroyalstyle.com focuses on a classic chic elegance, with an emphasis on aesthetics that will bring joy to the wearer, and help the client achieve her personal and professional goals. Her influences are vintage Dior, Jacques Fath and vintage Givency, Richard Robinson, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad.
She currently is a fashion designer, starting her own brand, Al-Masani Royal Jewelry, based on ideals of promoting elegance and beauty. www.almasaniroyalhouse.com
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- Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf
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- "Maria LovesTaiz on Twitter".
- "Maria LovesTaiz on Twitter".
- "Why demonize The Rebel for daring to criticize 'political Islam'?". 1 September 2017.
- "Maria Al-Masani Styl (@AlmasaniStyle) - Twitter". twitter.com.
- "Maria Al-Masani (@maria_almasani) • Instagram photos and videos". www.instagram.com.
- "Maria Al-Masani (malmasani)". Pinterest.
- Yemen Rights Monitor
- [www.tvrogers.com/media?lid=237&rid=4&gid=284995/ Rogers Television ]
- CNN Inside the Middle East Women and the Arab uprisings: 8 'agents of change' to follow by Laura Bohn
- Change Your World Cairo 2012 Women's Summit (PDF)
- Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference report (PDF)