ABEER SHOUKRY-AL OTAIBA
Abeer Shoukry-Al Otaiba grew up on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt. She attended Catholic school in France before deciding to follow in her family’s footsteps as a civil engineer. After completing her graduate-level studies, she moved to the United Arab Emirates, where she worked in civil engineering for several years.
While in Dubai, Abeer met Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States and former Director of International Affairs for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In 2010, the couple married and moved to America, where they live today with their two children.
THE BIRTH OF SEMSEM
Emerging from a male-dominated industry, Abeer has challenged societal norms and served as a role model for women across the Arab World. She credits her time as a structural engineer with giving her the foundation and motivation to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer.
The concept behind SemSem emerged from Abeer’s life-long interest in fashion, as well as her strong bond with her daughter Samia. Inspired by love, she envisioned a fashion brand inspired by love that connects and empowers females of all ages, races and backgrounds.
As the Founder and Creative Director of SemSem, she draws inspiration from her technical background, as well as the Eastern and Western cultures that shaped her upbringing. As a young girl, she would alter her clothes to fit her unique sense of style. Abeer approaches SemSem with that same inherent passion. Through her multicultural aesthetic and high-quality designs, Abeer’s hand-crafted garments portray the strength of women and girls around the world.
FASHION, FAMILY, & PHILANTHROPY
Throughout her life, Abeer has always desired to support others through charitable giving. As a dedicated philanthropist, each season SemSem partners with a different non-profit organization to support disadvantaged women and children throughout the world. SemSem’s philanthropic partners have included Angele.H International, Every Mother Counts, Women for Women International, and The Afya Foundation to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Outside of SemSem, Abeer engages in a number of philanthropic initiatives with her husband Yousef Al Otaiba. One of the organizations the couple holds dearest is the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. In 2014, Abeer and Yousef co-chaired the Children’s Ball with Bret and Amy Baier – the most successful non-profit fundraiser in Washington, DC. The following year, Children’s National awarded the Al Otaibas the Joseph E. Robert, Jr. Prize in Philanthropy. This award honors families who have provided support after their own personal experience with the hospital.
Amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, the couple also sponsored the first Children’s National drive-up COVID-19 test site. Additionally, the couple funded emergency food assistance programs throughout the United States.
Abeer has also provided support to the Meridian International Center and the Hope for Henry Foundation, of which she is Honorary Chair of the Board of Directors. Hope for Henry offers entertainment and stress relief to pediatric patients. The organization donates games and devices to these patients and arranges special events for them, including visits from favorite characters, celebrities, and sports icons.