2012 calendar features Middle Eastern women

Photo by Daniel Heraty

During a party Dec. 27 at Byblos Banquet Hall, women who posed for the 2012 Arab American Beauties calendar wait for their introductions. The inaugural calendar was developed by photographer Nafeh Abunab, owner of Dearborn Heights-based American Elite Studios.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – After months of development, a calendar produced by an area photographer that showcased Middle Eastern women was ready for unveiling, and a crowd of about 125 people filled a banquet room for the event.

Dearborn Heights-based American Elite Studios hosted a party Dec. 27 at Byblos Banquet Hall, 7258 Chase Rd., introducing 12 women of Middle Eastern descent who posed for the calendar, titled “Arab American Beauties 2012.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit Helping Youth Progress & Excel Athletics.

In an email, HYPE Athletics Chief Executive Officer Ali Sayed said he was happy to see his organization chosen to receive the proceeds.

“It’s wonderful and extremely pleasing to see the community, as a whole, support HYPE and the services we offer,” he said. “HYPE is near completion on the newly constructed Wayne County – Recreation Center and appreciates partners and community members for all the continued support.”

American Elite Studios owner Nafeh AbuNab, who produced and developed the calendar, said the concept for the project started when he photographed different women in the community. Following a three-week model search that began in October with a Facebook post, about 50 women were selected as finalists, from which the final group of 12 were chosen. The women were photographed over a one-month period in various locations in Dearborn and Detroit.

In a press release, he said the models’ different backgrounds made for a better calendar.

“The 12 beautiful ladies that grace the pages of our calendar are of Arab decent from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen, and vary in age groups with diverse religious and cultural backgrounds,” AbuNab said. “They’re educated, ambitious, talented, accomplished and very well liked and respected in the community.”

Lowrey Middle School Psychologist Nancy Jaafar, who posed for the calendar, said the shoot was about more than just showcasing their exterior beauty.

“The Middle Eastern woman is confident in her role, whatever it may be,” she said. “Raising an ethical child or being a hospitable host or standing beside her mate are as valuable as writing a dissertation or running for U.S. Congress. This is what makes us beautiful.”

AbuNab agreed with Jaafar, crediting the Arab Spring movement, a name given to the uprisings in the Middle East in 2011, for rediscovering the beauty of Middle Eastern heritage.

“The Arab beauty is very unique in looks,” he said, “But the poise of the Arab woman is totally different. She’s educated, she’s determined, she’s resilient, and her beauty isn’t just in her looks but also her character and upbringing.”

AbuNab said the calendar will expand beyond Dearborn in coming years and will include a nationwide talent search in cities with concentrations of Arab-American residents, including Chicago and New York.

Jason El-Reda, owner of iDesign Printing and Graphics who designed the ads for the calendar, said he was happy to be part of the project, adding he doesn’t expect any negative backlash for the calendar.

“I don’t see a reason to go against it, there’s nothing in it that’s bad,” he said. “There shouldn’t be anything negative about it.”

The calendar will be available for $20 at select stores and businesses in the area and online at www.ArabAmericanBeauties.com.