Style

Nike SB's 'Habibi' Dunk Low sneaker is an ode to the Middle East

The collaboration with skate shop Frame is dropping soon.

Frame, a Dubai skate shop and boutique that opened in 2016, is becoming Nike SB's first collaborator in the Middle East. The landmark comes with the release of the "Habibi" Dunk Low, which takes inspiration from the United Arab Emirates and the wider region.

The sneaker's black, white, green, and red color scheme comes from the Pan-Arab colors, which represent four different Arab dynasties. They can also be traced to the 14th-century Iraqi poet Safi al-Din al-Hilli, who wrote, "White are our acts, black our battles, green our fields, and red our swords." Today, the four colors are used in several countries' flags in the region, including the U.A.E.'s.

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What's love got to do with it? — "Habibi" translates to "my love" from Arabic and has been chosen to represent Dubai youth's love for skateboarding and sneakers. The cross-section of those two interests is also core to Frame, which has partially modeled itself after Japanese boutiques, and is represented more literally with double Swooshes and two tongues stacked on top of each other.

There's also a bit in Frame's product description that touts Dubai as a place "where people of different races, gender, age, and culture coexist" and "the common element we share is love." Not to spoil the mood, but the claim is a bit dubious, considering the U.A.E.'s continued human rights violations. Footwear News breathlessly and more specifically touts the "equality between man and woman," which is quite simply not a reality in the country.

Significantly less fraught is the diamond ripstop on the quarter panels, intended to represent the fishing nets that once filled Dubai's harbors. The gum outsole, which sneakerheads always love without explanation, is a stand-in for the city's surrounding deserts.

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Play to win — The "Habibi" Dunk Low will release in two stages, Frame's release happens on December 2. The boutique has created a browser game just for the occasion, which customers in the U.A.E., Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman must complete for a chance to purchase. Those with the top 10 highest scores will have a higher chance of winning the raffle, and anyone with a compatible device can still play the game for the fun of it.

The rest of the world will have a shot at the kicks December 5, when they go up for sale for $110 through the SNKRS app. Every single Dunk release this year has promptly sold out, even the general release versions that originally sat in stores in the 2000s, so a successful cop is far from guaranteed.