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Apple hijab emoji

Meet the precocious entrepreneur behind the creation of Apple's hijab emoji


Rayouf Alhumedhi may be just 16 years old, but she already boasts an impressive resume.

That's because the Saudi teen was behind Apple's decision to debut a hijab emoji into its collection later this year.

In 2016, Alhumedhi, now a German resident, launched an online campaign, "The Hijab Emoji Project," so that the nearly 550 million Muslim head-scarf wearing women feel included on the digital platform.

She was strategic in her vision of the icon - ensuring that Muslims worldwide felt like it represented their uniqueness.

"I just wanted an emoji, simple as that. I really had to have this idea in my mind what it was supposed to look like. I wanted it to be available in different skin tones, because it's not just brown skin color. Millions of women from different races wear it."
Rayouf Alhumedhi

Alhumedhi noticed that she didn't have an emoji to represent herself while chatting with friends on WhatsApp.

She then decided in 2016 to submit a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit that reviews and develops new emojis.

The plan worked. On "World Emoji Day," Apple previewed 12 new emojis it plans on releasing later this year, including the hijab woman.

Apple hijab emoji

Alhumedhi underscored the importance of the small icons, saying that they sometimes express emotions more accurately.

"I think it's because we're visual people, so communicating just through texts is kind of hard to get across your emotions," she said. "So having little images, even though they're so small, is actually really helpful when trying to communicate what you're feeling and thinking."

At the same time, she recognizes that the newly introduced emoji isn't the solution to combating Islamophobia. She does, however, think it's a way to spark productive dialogue.

"Obviously, it won't change the world," Alhumedhi continued. "No one will, like, say, 'go head scarves, yeah!' It's not going to do that. But, [it's] indirectly to promote tolerance."

"Once people realize that, like women wearing head scarves are not just people on the news, once they begin to show up on our phones, that will establish that notion that we are normal people, carrying out daily routines just like you."

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