Singaporean photographer jailed in Abu Dhabi is well-known in local fashion scene

Nurul Azliah
Senior Lifestyle Reporter
(L-R) Singaporean fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli bin Abdul Rahman, makeup artist Sha Shamsi and fashion stylist Randolph Tan. (Photo: Randolph Tan/Sha Shamsi)

A popular Singaporean photographer who has been jailed in Abu Dhabi for dressing in a feminine way has sent shocks in the local fashion scene.

Muhammad Fadli bin Abdul Rahman, who is a graduate from LASALLE College of the Arts, has created photo spreads with reputable magazines such as L’Officiel and Esquire as well as with fashion brands such as Burberry.

Fadli was arrested along with his friend Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim – also known as Fifi – on 9 August at a food court in the Yas Mall in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Both men were convicted on two charges of wearing women’s clothes in public and “behaving indecently” each and sentenced to one year in jail, according to media reports. Cross-dressing is a crime in the UAE.

“As a fashion photographer, Fadli is very ahead of his time. He likes to push his creative boundaries and his work can be thought-provoking at times,” said fashion stylist Randolph Tan, 27, who has known Fadli for six years.

Tan and Fadli have worked together on a number of overseas shoots, including one for UK apparel brand Burberry. Tan said he last met Fadli the night before he departed for Abu Dhabi earlier this month. Expressing sadness at the news, Tan said Fadli was supposed to work on a photoshoot as well as meet with potential clients during his visit to Abu Dhabi.

Makeup artist Sha Shamsi, 46, who has known Fadli for seven years, said the photographer was due to return on 16 August and they were supposed to work on a shoot scheduled the following day.

“We (Sha and Fadli’s friends) were shocked. I had to reschedule (the shoot),” said Sha, during a phone interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore.

Since Fadli approached Sha for a school project, the duo have been working on various shoots including a recent spread for fashion magazine FYI.JOURNAL. Calling Fadli an “amazing” and “funny” friend, Sha said, “He is always there for you. He is very calm and he doesn’t judge you.”

Sha and a number of other Singaporeans are holding a fund-raising campaign for Fadli and Fifi. They hope to raise $25,000 within the next few days to cover legal and other fees for the duo. As of 8.04pm on Thursday (24 August), they have raised a total of $13,530.

Fadli and Fifi have until 4 September to appeal against their conviction and jail sentence, according to media reports.

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