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Former Olori, Queen Zaynab Talks Fashion, Humanitarian Projects With Arab Nations & More in Interview With Velvet Magazine

The former Olori of the ancient Ife kingdom, Queen Zaynab is doing an amazing job showing the world that royalty is much more than a crown. Since her separation from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi, the beautiful business woman  has gone ahead to contribute intensely to the development of her humanitarian agenda which touches IDP camps in Nigeria and other refugee camps in war torn parts of Africa and the  middle East.

You would recall that last year, Queen Zaynab was heavily criticized for maintaining her title despite her separation from the king.

Queen Zaynab
The Ooni of Ife and Queen Zaynab

 

Also after the separation, the Queen  relocated to Dubai  where she established an organization in collaboration with the Arabs aimed at bringing economical development to both Africa and the Middle East.

The Queen was recently featured on UAE fashion and style magazine, Velvet Magazine where she opened up about her humanitarian projects, her fashion style and her separation from the Ooni.

Queen Zaynab
Queen Zaynab -Otiti Obanor for Velvet Magazine

Read full interview:

You have recently opened an office in the UAE, can you tell us a little more about your mission here Your Highness?

I started an organization, The Arab African Economic Development Initiative called The Bridge. Our mission is to bridge the divide among Africans and Arabs. We have received global support for the development of relations between the Arab world and Africa especially here in the UAE and by advancement, we are creating cultural programmes and job creation to encourage enterprise for our members, Inshallah. It’s been a tremendous blessing that I have partnered with various Heads of States and governments in the Middle East that will create economic and cultural sustainable platforms to improve social enterprise and social stigmas on both sides.

 Who are some of the people in the Middle East that you are working with?

Last month, I met with His Excellency, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori- and the Minister pledged his co-operation with Her Highness, and relevant ministries to aid in (social and economic) developments of international and regional activities that will enhance and improve trade exchange and dealings between the Arab world and Africa. Although there has been insufficient progress on a global scale to merge both worlds, we are optimistic for the future of relations. Unity is a powerful engine of progress and Inshallah, I intend to bridge that gap to create a union of cultural understanding, peace, and advancement of economic opportunities across Africa and the Middle East.

 

What motivates you daily through your work?

To be perfectly honest, I believe my motivation comes from the mothers and children I see on a day-to-day basis at IDP camps in Nigeria, and in the Middle East. These women are my heroes. Many of them have been through incredible hardships, war, and various forms of abuse and still strive to push and do their best despite their conditions. I draw my strength from them.

There are a lot of controversies surrounding your wilful separation from the King. It is something that’s never been done before and a bold step for a woman. What do you say to that?

Well, I’m a proponent of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One must live courageously and fearlessly as God intended. I love my people and my culture, and I will continue to make them proud.

You wear a lot of White. Was that a conscious decision? Who are your fashion favourites?

For me, white represents re-birth and happiness. My favourite designers are Ralph & Russo, Mohammed Ashi, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and the amazingly talented Deola Segoe of Nigeria. Fashion is an expression of life, I love having fun with my accessories and jewellery, and wear everything from Cartier, Jacob & Co to local artisans in Africa.

 What is your favourite vacation spot?

My goal in life has always been to live a life that I don’t want a vacation from. I meditate as often as possible to maintain clarity. I love Dubai, and I love Africa. I get to live in the best of both worlds, so I can’t complain.

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