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The African Queen: H.H Queen Zaynab

There are a few Royal Queens who have made their everlasting mark around the world, such as HRH Queen Elizabeth of the British Monarchy, to the iconic people’s Princess Diana, HRH Queen Letizia of Spain, as well as Princess Mary of Denmark, to HH Sheikha Moza Bint Nazer, HRH Queen Rania of Jordan and now HH Queen Zaynab of Nigeria.

Queen Zaynab is a woman who has made a tremendous impact since becoming Queen of Nigeria in 2016, and has exhibited a deeply rooted passion within helping and empowering women in Africa. As well as raising money for various projects, such as rebuilding of several orphanages and rescue homes across Africa, Her Highness has also undertaken field visits to multiple refugee sites in Nigeria, Ghana, Congo and Iran. Queen Zaynab is a protector of several international organizations such as United Nations Women, and she has a partnership with UNFPA programmes across three regions. She has also participated in numerous events, amplifying the voices of disadvantaged girls and women around the world, especially in her home country Nigeria. On the flip side, she is also the only Royal out of Africa verified on Instagram with over 100K followers, proving her popularity is across all generations.

As a Patron of many non-profit organizations, Queen Zaynab has been a very visible and vocal advocate for Worldwide Charity efforts and has become a respected spokesperson on sexual and reproductive health and rights, notably as they relate to maternal health, youth and humanitarian issues. Her Highness recently began her partnership with Lebanon, through the Governor of Beirut, Justice Ziad Chebib. With an increasing number of Lebanese citizens residing in Nigeria, she found it imperative to create sustainable initiatives to improve relations and create jobs.  The Middle East and Africa have a long and sometimes sordid history that hasn’t worked to the advantage of Africans. However, this partnership will create new economic opportunities that both continents can explore through cultural exchanges, breaking of social barriers and business opportunities- putting the power in the people, and creating a sensational legacy for women and children, through Queen Zaynab’s passion for equality.

HH Queen Zaynab, with HH Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, at The Royal Gala, October 2017, at the Palazzo Versace Dubai

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.

Follower HH Queen Zaynab on Instagram @hhzaynab