Hernández-Mancha's daughter triumphs in Arabia: "As a mother and wife of a Saudi I am proud of the changes of this country"
It is counted among the most veteran Spanish residents of Saudi Arabia and leads with public pride.Belén Hernández-Mancha, daughter of the former president of Alianza Popular, confesses fascinated by the changes of the Arab country."I love to recognize myself a bit as a Saudi ambassador," says the 35 -year -old girl in conversation with the Independent.
Belén landed for love in Yeda, the most liberal of Saudi cities.A decade has elapsed since that arrival and has not lost an apex of the passion with which a country of 35 million inhabitants observes that, after decades of self -absorption and moral prohibitions, has chosen to start an uncertain and rapid opening."People are still surprising Saudi Arabia because unfortunately only bad things are heard," he replicates.It is a hot winter day and we summon ourselves outdoors, in a coffee from Al Balad, the historic neighborhood of Yeda.
The kingdom whose "de facto" leader is the thirty Mohamed Bin Salman has turned his commitment to sports events into an effective campaign to claim in the international scene.This week is celebrated in Riad, the capital, the Spanish Super Cup.“With all the changes that are having, people only look at the woman can drive.There is no talk of the events and acts that the country houses but of bad things.I would like people to see the positive side of Saudi Arabia, ”.
Success in the fashion world
Antonio Hernández-Mancha's little daughter-who retired from Spanish political life in 1990 after Manuel Fraga departed from the Directorate of Popular Alliance-has played an active role in the ultimate turbulent decade of the kingdom, which has left behindsegregation by sex or partially dismantled the male guardianship system on women.Belén, graduated in Corporate Communication by the American Universities of Paris and California in Berkeley, directs in Saudi lands "Thaa", a fashion company that modernizes the "abayas", the comfortable robes with which the Saudis cover their body by traditionand religious modesty."Thaa" is the English transcription of a letter from the Arab alphabet whose pronunciation is close to the Castilian Zeta.
“I think there are two types of people in this country: women who wear black and cover their face, who will continue to do so for a long time, because deep down it is part of their culture and it is what they think which is correct.And then there is a minority, which carries the increasing.These are our clients, ”says Belén, which has applied a color revolution and prints to the local female garment.“Until they stop putting ABAYA will spend a lot of time, because it is also a bit an accessory.In the end, one is more arranged with Abya, ”says who continues to use it daily.
Saudi princesses, among their clientele
Privileged observer of a society facing its contradictions and in transition, Bethlehem and their creations have dressed the most exclusive sectors.“The royal family is very large and many of our clients are princesses.99 percent of our clients are Saudis and we have very few foreigners, ”explains the Spanish, who began the adventure with another compatriot in the absence of alternatives to the black and more traditional garment.“We have done very few black abayas.At first, the clients asked for the same model with buttons or longer, but no longer, ”he admits.
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“This company arose because, by chance of life, two Spanish we met living here.The fashion world attracted us and decided to start something that, at first, was a hobby and then became a very fruitful business, ”evokes who is not considered a pioneer of the“ lifting ”of Saudi cabinets.“I can't say that that is the case because I know women like my mother -in -law who has been doing it for 40 years.Yes I am one of the few foreigners who do not come from this area of the world and that is dedicated to this ”.
At the orders of Bethlehem, in workshops or the sales department, about fifteen people work.A couple of thousands of garments leave their company every year, at prices ranging between 200 and 500 euros."Many of our garments are personalized.We send us the measures and we make them commission.We also sell in stores, but here people like to buy on social networks, through Instagram or WhatsApp, and ask you a thousand questions, ”says this mother of two children who triumphs in the still incipient Saudi fashion market.The Sacred Month of Ramadan, marked by day diurnal, concentrates the season of greatest demand.
"We have grown and now there are several people who help us because we did not supply, but I still take care of the choice of fabrics, designs and I continue doing most of the works," says who matters some of the fabrics for their sayons from Spain.“I choose the stamped fabrics in Spain.Those that carry much more particular animals or things and are quite successful, ”explains Belén, who met her Saudi husband when she worked in Beirut.
"Everyone in my family were surprised, but the truth is that my father is a very international and much more open person who can be the majority," he recalls the moment in which he revealed the origin of his partner.“In the background he knows that I also have a slightly different mentality than my friends or people who have lived in Madrid all their life can have.They always told me: ‘We knew you were going to marry a foreigner, but not with a Saudi’.Then when they met Tarek, it is impossible that you don't like it ”.
No friend and relative has yet visited her in her Saudi home.“I hope they don't take come and see it with their own eyes, now that it is a country where everyone is welcome.In 24 hours you can have a visa.There are no excuses.That come and judge for themselves, ”says the little girl of the marriage formed Antonio and Belén Martínez with a smile.Bethlehem was born precisely before his father succeeded Fraga at the head of the genesis of the current Popular Party and when he was still AP spokesman in the Andalusian Parliament.
Political protagonist of the 1980s
Antonio Hernández Mancha (Guareña, Badajoz 1951), his father, led Popular Alliance for two years.An ephemeral and convulsive period after having defeated Miguel Herrero and Rodríguez de Miñón in the primaries.The protagonist of the motion of failed censure against Felipe González in 1987 ended up taking refuge in law.He directed an office specialized in commercial matters.
Hernández-Mancha has always exhibited a close friendship with former US president George W.Bush and his brother Jeb, former governor of Florida.He met them in the winter of 1988 during a trip to Washington to meet with Ronald Reagan."Reagan, after greeting me with that charm I had, tells me that as I am not yet president of the Government, that my relationship is not going to be with the White House, but through vice president George Bush," Hernández-Mancha recalled inAn interview on TVE.“And through the vice president I know his son Jeb and his son George Bush, and since life is so capricious, he makes his son George be president of the United States for eight years.And I have only limited myself to maintaining the relationship with my friends, ”he explained.
"I have the perception that I am at the same time as the changes.Maybe something ahead in some aesthetic aspects that people now begin to understand and accept them.Two years ago it was impossible to see a Saudi woman without Abaya and now they exist, ”the young woman murmurs."I am surprised and delighted with the rhythm of the changes.On a personal level, my life has changed.I've been here for ten years and my life has always been very easy.Even the things that other people could see how negative have not affected me, but in the social sphere, the truth is that now is much simpler.Life is more bearable here ".
Belén acknowledges that their clients represent women who yearned for social reforms and does not hide the excitement with which he witnesses the milestones."I, as Saudi's mother and wife, I am very proud of the changes that are taking place in this country," says."I love having lived the changes of the last decade and my husband is also an ambassador of Spain and Marbella, which is what he likes most," he concludes.