The snap was shared on Twitter by Zayn's friend – music producer Naughty Boy – who has his arm wrapped around Zayn's shoulder in the photo. The pair have been working together on solo material and have been spotted at music studios on several occasions since Zayn revealed he was leaving the band.
The music producer teased fans at the end of March by tweeting, and subsequently deleting, a demo of a track the pair had worked on together. The demo received a backlash from fans, many of whom criticised Zayn's decision to work on solo music so soon after saying that he was leaving One Direction to be "a normal 22-year-old".
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Zayn Malik showed off a new nose piercing on Friday
Zayn has since kept a low profile, but he is gearing up for a return to the spotlight with his first official solo appearance at the annual Asian Awards in London on Friday evening.
Naughty Boy will join the 22-year-old at the event after winning the Asian Achievers award in 2014.
The duo's outing comes just one day after Simon Cowell joked that he was "about to jump off a cliff" when he heard the news that Zayn was leaving the band. Speaking to James Corden on The Late, Late Show, the talent show judge revealed the discussion he had with Zayn before his decision was announced.
Zayn Malik will make his first solo appearance at the Asian Awards
"I was trying to say to him he should stay around a bit longer. But something inside him said he'd had enough," he said. "I saw him in person as well – but once someone has made their mind up they are going to go.
"At the same time I didn't want to push him too much because he's 22 and I could see he was a bit stressed and needed some time off."
Zayn's former bandmates have vowed to continue as a four-piece and have already started working on their fifth studio album.