Egyptian Threads

Egyptian Threads

Zeina Hosni fell in love with horses at the tender age of two, when she was first exposed to them at an Egyptian Country Club on the outskirts of Cairo.
Growing up in the province of Sakkara, a self-proclaimed horse territory, exposed her to a variety of equine disciplines, eventually leading to achievements in both show jumping and polo. At one point, Zeina was the only Egyptian female player on the international polo circuit.

Fast forward 30 years and Zeina resides both in Egypt and the US, where she has recently launched equestrian performance label Sakkara. Italian made and constituting a modern interpretation of a traditional equine theme, it offers a conduit between fashion and functionality.

The Polo Project recently had the pleasure of interviewing Zeina, which yielded some intimate insights into a truly unique life.

From what age were you living in Egypt and what was it like growing up there?
I was born in London, because my mother had suffered a terrible back injury that made the administration of an epidural very difficult, so my parents travelled to London seeking special care during the delivery.

They returned home to Egypt shortly after I was born. I grew up (and still live) in a suburb of Cairo that is full of expats, and attended an American school and university, so my upbringing was very much Westernised. 
Growing up in Egypt afforded me the opportunity to travel and experience the Middle East and Europe throughout my youth and I’ve subsequently picked up five language along the way!

From what age were you living in Egypt and what was it like growing up there?
I was born in London, because my mother had suffered a terrible back injury that made the administration of an epidural very difficult, so my parents travelled to London seeking special care during the delivery.

They returned home to Egypt shortly after I was born. I grew up (and still live) in a suburb of Cairo that is full of expats, and attended an American school and university, so my upbringing was very much Westernised. 
Growing up in Egypt afforded me the opportunity to travel and experience the Middle East and Europe throughout my youth and I’ve subsequently picked up five language along the way!

You were the only Egyptian female International polo player for some time there, tell us about that!
I quite enjoyed it, especially on the national circuit. Initially, I was a little undermined because of my size and the fact that I am female. However, I used my many years experience in the saddle to outride/outplay the much larger and stronger competition. It was fun!

Places in Egypt off the tourist trail that must be seen?

Egypt is full of hidden gems. Whether on the Mediterranean coastline, along the Red Sea, in the Western Desert or the Sinai Peninsula, there is something for everyone. The white-sand beaches of Marsa Matruh on the North Coast are for the avid beach goer. The 19th century colonial-style Winter Palace in Luxor sits right on the Nile, steps away from the famed temple. For something utterly unique, the Adrère Amellal ecolodge in the Western Desert region of Siwa offers a one-of-a-kind and authentic experience.

When you are not playing, what do you wear to the polo? 

A tailored trouser, wide-leg or tapered and high waisted, something on top that is tucked in with a boyfriend blazer in tow. I’ve never been one for skirts or dresses.

Who is your hero/inspiration?

My father would be the answer to both, because of the strength of his character, his incredible intellect and his unrelenting work ethic.

Last destination travelled to?

Amman, Jordan. I was there to shoot the video for Sakkara’s debut collection. We shot the video in one day and spent the remaining two days taking photos for Sakkara’s content. The best part of the trip was undoubtedly the lunches and dinners! The food in Amman is wonderful.

What are your long-haul flight necessities?
My best friend made me a USB containing my favourite trilogies and sagas, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Harry Potter. I never travel without it. A comfy, oversized sweater.
A laptop (to watch all the movies on the aforementioned USB for as long as the flight lasts).

Favourite way to relax?
Ride of course! Riding for me is when everything is put on ‘mute’. I unplug from the world and all external issues fall away.

Any new year’s resolutions? 

My new year’s resolution is always the same; it is to have a better year than the one before. Do more, learn more and, of course, ride more.

What is the biggest life lesson you have had to learn.
Not to have expectations. A series of events of my personal and professional life eventually taught me this lesson. It took a while, but now it is instilled in me, I’m much happier.

What is the inspiration behind SAKKARA?
The inspiration behind Sakkara (the brand) is Sakkara (the place). It is where I discovered horses, and learned to ride.  It is a place that I have always associated with horses, and I continue to enjoy the tranquillity of this provincial district to this day. It motivated me to create a contemporary and distinctive brand that honours the essence of horsemanship.

What are some of your favourite non-equestrian fashion labels?

  • TOD’s – To me it epitomises quintessential Italian style and effortlessness
  • Joseph – For its subtle elegance and uncomplicatedness
  • Polo Ralph Lauren (formerly the Blue Label) – Before I had an idea of what I liked and didn’t like clothing-wise, I always liked the embroidered polo’s, simply because they had little polo ponies on them!
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