Lights, camera, action!
Art Exhibition organised by Poetic Strokes.
Pakistanis breathe cultural aspects into the glamourous sectors of Dubai
Lights, camera and action is what we associate with films, however, what we are unable to fathom behind the glitzy and glamorous world is a whole lot of hard work and effort. The industry also includes a lot of associated sectors from events, arts, literature, fashion houses, designers, makeup artists, style gurus and the works.
The glitz and glamour we are all wowed by, however once you enter the industry you realise that there is a lot of hard work and sweat that goes into a project. The more detailed and intricately you plan, the better the outcome as it is said the "beauty lies in the minute details."
This is all around the world and Dubai is no stranger to this - in fact in some ways it epitomises this, the development of Dubai has been centred around elegance and glamour.
Without any doubt, Dubai has become the hub of elegance in every field and nothing other than the best is expected here. Anyone coming for the first time is awe struck right from the elegant and super-efficient airport to its lovely immaculate roads and green Gulmohar trees.
An ever-growing city, Dubai has aesthetically developed in every field. People here take pride in their lifestyles and have an eye for detail. The city attracts people from all over the world and from all walks of life. However, one thing common amongst the diverse nationalities is the desire to have a great lifestyle.
The UAE is a place where people have love for life and passion for high living. This passion is reflected in almost everything including the tall buildings the state-of-the-art infrastructure.
Dubai is dotted with great events, exhibitions and fashion houses. Art, cinema and literature has made a mark in this part of the world with the biggest advantage of showcasing designs, cinema, fashion, art, literature and many more.
We hear different languages, eat different cuisines, see cinema in different languages. It seems that if you are a resident of Dubai you are a resident of the world in a true sense. As someone once said, "Why go places when you have everything here". A complete world in itself Dubai has been a great platform for many countries to bring the best from their part of the world.
We, Pakistanis, have made our own contribution to the glamourous world of Dubai. Be it art, music, literature, fashion design or cuisine, Pakistanis continue to make great contributions. To add vibrancy to all spheres of Dubai including the well-known exquisite high life. A medley of young and old, new and classic have been contributing to the glamour of this very unique and special place. The stars shine bright on Dubai and its glamorous world.
Creative concepts in motion
'Poetic Strokes' develops platform for creative expressions in art, literature and music
"I strongly believe that artists are the hope to bringing nations together. They are gifted by God to create a better world."
When we think of literary evenings in Dubai from Pakistan, none other than Ayesha Imtiaz comes to mind. Those who are literature lovers know her well and those who are new to the literary scene will get to know her for sure.
A delightful young and talented literature enthusiast, Ayesha has contributed extensively to the art and literature world of Dubai. She grew up in the beautiful city of Islamabad and moved to Dubai with a Master's degree in Advertising and Marketing. Ever since she has moved to Dubai she has dedicated herself to bringing the best out of Pakistan - be it music, art, poetry, films or narrations.
Ayesha started on a small scale with an art exhibition with the help of a friend. Those were different times and with not too strict rules, so it was common to hold exhibitions or events on small scale.
In 2010, Poetic Strokes came on the literary scene. A registered company was the platform Ayesha formed for her devotion for the literary world. Since then, Poetic Strokes became synonymous for culture art music and literature.
"I always explain to people that Poetic Strokes is not an event management company. We develop concepts and then provide a platform to promote art in all its forms - be it art, literature or music," she said.
Some of us must remember the magic of Jamil Naqsh, whose work was exhibited at DIFC in collaboration with Albemarle gallery in UK, an event skilfully organised by Poetic Strokes.
Pakistan has no dearth of music and Ayesha holds music very close to heart. It was her love for music that inspired her to bring "The Indus blues" recently showcased at Alserkal Avenue was an evening to remember. The enthralling instruments from the past and folk chants and music filled the air with something exquisite. Ayesha's effort to revive the old folk instruments and history of haunting sounds from the past endured up being a master piece.
On a different mood, Ayesha organised the melodious music journey with Ali Sethi.
Here is a special mention and tribute to two icons of literature Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Zia Mohyeddin. Most certainly they were not to be missed by Dubai and Ayesha organised charming events on works of both these much-adored literary figures.
When Ayesha talked about her interesting endeavours, she made a special mention of how the people of Dubai worked together to award Zia Mohyeddin with a Lifetime Achievement award. Mohyeddin went back knowing that people of Dubai appreciate his contribution to literature till this day.
An event that left a big mark on the audience was the evening with Yusuf Bashir Qureshi. His narration of love, life and soul captivated the audience and Ayesha felt privileged to organise another enchanted evening.
She sees the future of art and culture in Dubai growing by leaps and bounds. Dubai has been an excellent platform for bringing diverse cultures together, hence the richness of art, literature and music has brought a great awareness of human soul. Dubai has a cultural soul and unparalleled thirst for literary advancement.
A unique flavour enters the fashion industry
Shazia Hashwani is a designer with a flair for bringing the east and west together with the quality of the fabric she uses and the uniqueness in her designs
"One of the most memorable events was when Mrs. Hillary Clinton wore an outfit designed by me in an event in Islamabad," said the young Pakistani designer.
Shazia Hashwani's fashion line is designed uniquely and elegantly to cater to many diverse clientele. The strength of her fashion is in the fact that her designs are not repeated; they are one of a kind. She aims to create unique masterpieces for all her customers. Quality is at the heart of Shazia's design. Each material is carefully chosen and only the very best silks, georgette, chiffons, crepes and velvet are chosen and later sent for embroidery to be decorated with the finest ornaments.
"I knew from the beginning that my brand would speak volumes when it came to creativity, ingenuity and quality, and I have stood behind my word undoubtedly," she said. Keeping up to date with the changing trends, the Pakistani designer has a diverse range of clients locally and internationally, and they cater to both traditional and Western wear. In addition to this, her 100 per cent cashmere and hand embroidered scarves are much sought after.
With most of her stores based in Pakistan, Shazia has become quite popular in Dubai through exhibitions and Instagram. With this in mind, the Pakistani designer believes that the renaissance of Pakistani fashion in the past five years has been encouraging and proves that there is a huge growth potential especially since fashion accounts for twenty percent of the country's exports. Furthermore, she feels that there is always a place for hardworking individuals who come into the market with a unique array of designs.
Shazia has a keen interest in fashion and clothes and goes on to express her delight when she attends workshops and diverse trade shows where they showcase other designers' work across the globe.
"I love to learn and grow so that I can impart the things I've learned to my design team," she said. According to the designer, her creativity and talent for designing and her fascination for intricate artworks drew her into the world of fashion designing in the 1990s. "Once I decided this is what I wanted to pursue then there was no looking back."
Shazia enjoys living in Dubai and Pakistan as she says she gets the best of both countries.
For the people by the people
Being a graduate, Shamoon Sultan saw a niche to revive the handloom industry and handloom production in Pakistan. Along with the desire to revive the industry, he also noted a gap in the retail industry, as well as the fact that there were no brands available in Pakistan.
Khaadi is now synonymous for uniqueness and vibrant colours. Their workplace is dynamic, due to the leadership and the camaraderie of a team of dedicated designers, artists and retailers for whom uncompromising quality and attention to detail surpasses profitability.
Khaadi employs about 1,300 people from 19 different nationalities of which 36 per cent comprise of a female workforce.
The brand opened its first store in Dubai Festival City in 2010 after reaching huge success in Pakistan. Following the opening, Khaadi became a household name and its popularity in all spheres would soon become unparalleled. Pakistanis are proud of this store and most relate to it as a store from their country. Marking the success and huge demand, Khaadi opened more branches across the UAE and each branch has been a success story.
Today, Khaadi continues to grow as it constantly introduces new lines. Its home décor products and fashion line, called Chapter 2, are equally loved by the loyal and new customers. Since 1998, Khaadi has been dressing women in beautiful designs and fabrics.
Khaadi is a happy place for women, men and kids, and rarely one would come away without buying something. There is always that one kurti you just can't leave behind.
Celebrating art and beauty in prayer
Bahr al Noor Designs is a leading innovator and manufacturer of contemporary prayer products.
Moving to Dubai in 2007 to work with a world-renowned leisure and hospitality firm as senior architect catapulted Zara Alikhan, now Founder and CEO of Bahr al Noor, into the international market as a strategic, multidiscipline designer with an eye for innovation. Two years later she found herself conceptualising an idea that would pave her entrepreneurial journey.
Designing for Bahr al Noor, she draws inspiration in the overwhelming fields of color and geometry found in Islamic art and architecture, thus creating a haven of tranquility, contemplation and prayer. Every product of Bahr al Noor celebrates the art and beauty in prayer. Zara's technical knowledge and design, combined with her innate creative abilities, results in a unique and spiritual prayer accessories collection that is reflective of her inner self.
As an architect-turned-entrepreneur, of Pakistani origin based in Dubai, my entrepreneurial journey has been a very interesting one. Working as a full-time architect, mother, and homemaker at the time also meant lesser downtime. I always enjoyed good interiors and remember being on the lookout for contemporary and elegant prayer mats for the children and us. Dissatisfied by what was available I decided to innovate a prayer mat. Family and friends loved the product and soon the requests started coming in and that's how Bahr al Noor started.
Everything that evolves out of Bahr al Noor is a product of celebration. Translating as 'Sea of Light', Bahr al Noor is a product of this celebration: preciously attested in each of its uniquely designed prayer products.
"Our simple hope is to embody the craft traditions of the Islamic world in each product, with uncompromising quality and exceptional craftsmanship. Prayer accessories that hold a promise of elegance, comfort, and quality as we invite you to embark on a journey; through a world of luxury, innovation, and excellence."
Prayer mats, Prayer beads, Prayer Dresses, accessories for prayer - All carefully handcrafted with joy for all ages.
Bahr al Noor Designs was established in 2012, as a leading innovator and manufacturer of contemporary Prayer products. Bahr al Noor is a luxury prayer concept brand committed to celebrating the power and beauty of prayer. The company's core business is design, manufacture, and supply of luxury prayer solutions, such as handcrafted prayer mats, travel prayer sets, prayer dresses and prayer accessories throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world, we endeavour to provide innovative prayer solutions that are both creative and modern.
MASN is a sister-led team aimed at creating premium aesthetics.
MASN is a Dubai-based creative design agency that specialises in tailored events, branding, content creation and live experiences. Our team is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of art and design in the region and we specialise in experiential events, with a premium design aesthetics built for content creation to drive conversation.
MASN is co-founded by four siblings - Masha, Alisha, Sasha and Natasha - whose names are represented as an acronym for MASN (pronounced Mason). With the combination of our degrees and experience in art, design, fashion, PR and Marketing, we created an agency that catered to understanding brands and creating design-centric strategies for their products. Our clients include Mandarin Oriental, Tom Ford, MAC, Lancome, Zegna, Bugatti, Bentley, Clinique, Farfetch, Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few.
When asked what was the inspiration behind the creation here is what Natasha stated four years ago: "My siblings and I had talked about where we saw ourselves work-wise and we all had a common denominator of wanting to work together. Design has always been a passion for all of us, but we all had different aspects of design that interested us. We wrote out all the elements of design that inspired us and overlapped with each other.
"We found that not only did we want to create experiences through branding, but also through immersive experiences. We travel a lot and visit museums and art installations in every city we go to. We had always wondered why there wasn't more of it in Dubai and wished that it was something we could experience in our hometown.
"We quickly realised that we could actually make that happen with our design concepts and what was just a dream on paper turned into reality through MASN."
Speaking about their favourite event, she continued: "We've had so many amazing experiences with our clients. Doing the grand opening of the Mandarin Oriental was something that we thoroughly enjoyed because the team was open and progressive with their feedback and gave us the flexibility to create a beautiful experience for their guests.
"We also created the first immersive fragrance experience with a local brand called 'Arcadia', which was the most memorable and close to our heart. It consisted of eight art installations, part of a maze where each room represented a fragrance and its story. We worked with Dolce & Gabbana and created a Ramadan-inspired launch for their products and also created a multi-sensory experience for Tom Ford in an empty space which was very well received."
Highlighting the future of the company: "We have been working with brands to create experiences for their products and invited guests, but we are expanding into weddings for design-centric brides and grooms as well as eventually creating our own immersive experience where the public are able to walk through our art installations and create a vehicle of conversation about the topics that we think are relevant and could create impact on our community."
So why Dubai? The sisters grew up here and consider it home.
Post our early education, Natasha studied in New York City at the Parsons School of Design and the siblings went to school in London studying Fashion, PR & Marketing.
"We consider ourselves third culture kids where our experience allows us to have multitude of cultures influence us and our work. Living in Dubai and the melting it has become has been an experience of a lifetime.
We feel lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity to have friends and family of all backgrounds that has helped shaped who we are today. Dubai and its evolving nature has allowed room for designers like us to create a creative business we are proud and passionate about."
A movie with a purpose
Pakistani film graduate Shazia Yusuf Khan aims to make films that ring with life lessons and truths.
When it comes to creativity, Pakistan has no dearth of talent. Film production is an art that was lost for some years in Pakistan but people like Shazia Yusuf Khan are introducing thought provoking cinema to its audience. Pinky mem saheb sorted a lot of emotions amongst the viewers; for some it was grim and for some it was too close to reality.
Shazia grew up in Lahore and saw many varied cultures in Punjab. Coming from an army background, she got the experience of living in smaller and larger cities of Pakistan and grew up in a very academic environment where she pursued a degree in business administration from LUMS.
Eventually in 2004, she got a degree in film production from London and this is when she co-hosted a controversial series called Talking Divas. The programme grew in popularity and addressed many forgotten issues of women.
When Shazia moved to Dubai there were many preconceived notions about her life living in the emirates. She had heard of the glitz and the glamour and she wondered if this was going to be all that she would see here. Delighted on the contrary that Dubai was evolving fast in the literary field, her life in Dubai started to become interesting as she came across various nationalities and different lifestyles.
Life is what you make of it, and rightly so, Shazia soon became a part of the literary circle of Dubai. A keen observer of human relationships, she thought of writing a story that would later be showcased in cinemas, and with a degree in film making and a flair for writing, she produced something that would be haunting and thought provoking.
The plot of Pinky Memsaab is a film about a household that was becoming dysfunctional, lack of communication, loneliness and ever growing need for a luxurious life style had created a distance between pinky mem saheb and her husband. The introduction of house help from their own native country brought a new thought into their lives. Each character depicted turmoil within their souls.
These are issues of any society today and this is the reason why the movie was viewed all over the world, including India and Japan. Many people could relate to the story as it was very real and a reflection of modern life. Shazia made a special mention of the support and help she got in Dubai and later found the working ethics in Dubai far less challenging than in her own country.
Being new to the industry, Shazia realized that the success of her movie depended on how it was marketed and distributed and found it challenging from the very start. Raising funds for the movie was not easy but she was determined and much of the movie was financed by her family and close friends.
However, the fact that the movie was picked up by Netflix even before it was released spoke a lot about the movie. Shazia had tremendous support from a producing team "Shoot on sight Dubai" and the contribution of Omar Khan, Fahad Sheikh, Raza Namazi and Yusuf Khan deserves special mention here.
After producing Pinky Mem Saheb, Shazia feels that though cottage industry movies and art movies at the moment are a challenge film producers should continue their effort at giving their audience thoughtful movies with substance to think.
It is a reflection of a society and what they like to see and enjoy as it is up to the film makers to continue to produce thinkers through their work.
Shazia feels that her next project would be to encourage film makers to go digital. It is important to create an awareness amongst the audiences and the best way to do that is to go digital. This is a challenge she is willing to take and in the future will continue to produce more thought provoking movies based on what's real rather than fantasy.
Passion for fashion
When work is your passion, nothing can keep you from charging ahead, says luxury fashion PR Rohma Nomani
Hailing from a family of engineers, doctors and bankers, Rohma Nomani, a fashion industry professional, stands out as an anomaly.
"I remember being discouraged from pursuing a career in fashion, I think that the industry's 'dark side' is highlighted and dramatised in media," says Rohma. "I knew that this was something I was passionate about, and I had to convince my family to let me pursue it - now they all agree it was the best decision I made! My family firsthand has seen the hard work and long hours that are required in fashion and I believe they now have a profound respect for it."
Having studied at The International School of Choueifat in Sharjah, Rohma went on to pursue a degree in Marketing at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. It was during her time in artistic Montreal that she discovered her love for fashion and the endless possibilities the industry offered.
Upon attaining her Bachelor's degree from McGill University, she applied and got accepted into the exclusive and highly competitive post-graduate Fashion Design programme at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Considered the world's leading fashion school, Parsons opened up the world of luxury fashion to Rohma and during her time in New York, she had the opportunity of working alongside legendary designer, Carolina Herrera, in her design atelier on 7th Avenue.
In 2013, Rohma moved back to Dubai and started working on the Styling team of luxury department store, Harvey Nichols - Dubai. Her love for writing and strong knowledge of the industry landed her a position on Harvey Nichols' PR team, which perfectly merged her Marketing and Fashion Design background.
Rohma has since gone on to manage and implement regional and global PR and Communications strategies for some of the most high-profile luxury brands in the world such as Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and NET-A-PORTER, and also acts as a guest contributor to high-profile regional fashion titles such as Harper's Bazaar Arabia and Grazia Middle East.
"I moved back to Dubai because of visa issues in New York. But looking back, it was the best thing that happened to me. Dubai is a very exciting place to work, with a burgeoning creative sector. If you are passionate and work hard, you will be offered amazing opportunities. I still secretly pinch myself when I attend fashion weeks in Milan or Paris; these were things I could only dream of at one time!" says Rohma.
"I really love the industry I work in and I am grateful to be a part of it. Yes, the hours are long, and it can be very competitive but when your work is your passion, nothing can really keep you from charging ahead. It is so important to find something that inspires you; it's the only way to success."
Time to Unwind
Tania's Teahouse introduces guests to the world of zen.
It's all in a cup of tea, says Tania of Tania's Teahouse. As you enter the café and are seated, you can sense a different vibe compared to a regular café - with elegantly painted walls and detailed choice of colours and flowers, to the dainty selection of crockery and cutlery, everything has a very serene and beautiful feel. This set-up is by Tania, an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a calm aura that shines through in the way she runs her tea house.
Time to unwind
The calm ambience of the cafe is a perfect place to embrace zen, and visitors can indulge in meditation classes and yoga sessions. While having a cup of tea, guests can browse around a delightful little corner in the cafe that is dedicated to new designers from every walk of life. This provides a great opportunity for people to view the works of various artists, clothes, pottery, and many more. Don't hold back and let the temptation to pick up something new for your wardrobe or home makeover.
Tania's teahouse is also abuzz with baby showers, book launches, birthdays and wedding parties. Its extensive menu offers gluten-free and vegan food, and also promises peanut-free dishes, thus catering to those with allergies.
The tea house has grown quickly over a short period of time, and the reason behind its success is indeed Tania's charming self and warm hospitality. The experience begins with a beautifully crafted menu with different kinds of tea. The choices of desserts and savoury items are also well thought out, leaving one is spoilt for choice.
How it all began
Tania lived most of her life in the US, and later graduated from university of Toronto with honours in Psychology and Islamic Studies. With a special interest in human behaviour, she enjoys working with people. This enthusiasm is apparent among staff, as they appear happy and willing to serve just as much as Tania.
Back in the days, cafes were primarily for families, and not a popular haunt among youngsters. Tania decided to change this after discovering her own love for café as a student in Canada. She had started visiting cafés to read and work, and realised the inspiration one gets from sitting in a lively place.
So, when Tania moved back to Dubai, she knew just what she wanted to do - to create a destination that would give Dubai residents a comfortable ambience to socialise, work and relax with a splendid cup of tea.
Now, on any given day, Tania's teahouse is packed with people - either working on their laptops, reading a book in a quiet corner, or socialising on bigger tables.
Raising funds was a main concern for Tania, but she was able to come through with the help of her family, who lovingly supported her dreams. To date, she is grateful to her parents who understood her calling and helped her to achieve her goals. Tania's workplace is her little haven where she enjoys imparting good vibes and a happy feel.
The cafe has hosted many events, such as book launches and wedding parties. Corporations like Johnsons and Johnson, Nike and Fuji films have also hosted their events at the premise.
Driven by her passion for a lovely cup of tea, she is soon introducing the famous Karak and Kashmiri chai to the menu.
Whenever you feel like visiting a wonderful place to relax, to work or to read this, is certainly the place. A unique and dainty experience awaits you.
Connecting trend-makers to trendsetters
Boulevard One is a class apart in promoting Pakistani fashion brands at global exhibits.
After seven years of successful events, including exhibits featuring the leading South Asian fashion houses, Dubai-based brand 'Boulevard One' is a name to reckon with in promoting Pakistan and South Asian Fashion to the world. Boulevard One, under the leadership of its CEO Sadaf M. Khan, has come a long way with a prime motivation to showcase the brilliance and ingenuity of Pakistani and South Asian fashion to the world.
Boulevard One holds regular exhibitions of leading Pakistani, Indian and international designers in the UAE, Pakistan, US and UK. It also operates an online platform to ensure round-the-clock availability of leading South Asian fashion designers to a global audience.
Khan, a Fine Arts graduate from Lahore with extensive experience of global fashion marketing, says: "When I visit fashion houses led by passionate designers and artisans, my motivation is to take their product to a wide global audience for best value to their work."
Boulevard One has held over 30 exhibitions in Dubai to date, in which tens of leading South Asian designers have showcased their latest range to many nationalities based in the UAE, US and UK.
Boulevard One operates its e-commerce portal (www.boulevardone.com) from its base in Dubai, from where it services its regional and global online customers with most reliable technology, payment platform and delivery services. This is the very first time South Asian brands have been provided an online platform in the UAE.
After launch of its e-commerce portal, the label has started international pop ups to bring awareness to e-commerce availability for customers interested in South Asian designer products. The Boulevard One Exhibit was very well-received in Lahore, Pakistan and Boulevard One online took its leading designer partners to the 41st APPNA Annual Convention Bazar at Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas in the US.
Boulevard One is known for its flawless planning of South Asian fashion exhibitions catering to the elite multi-cultural crowd in Dubai and has been hosting the biggest fashion houses from India and Pakistan.
Presently, the Boulevard One online store hosts well-reputed and established designers, along with a vast array of emerging designers - such as The House of Kamiar Rokni, Deepak Parwani, Natasha Kamal, Farah Talib Aziz, Farida Hassan, Maheen G. Taseer, and Wardha Saleem; celebrity jewellery favourites like Rema Luxe, Esfir Jewels, Opuline, and many more; high street favourites like Chapter 13, Lahori Ink, and the list keeps on growing!
There are Bridal Couture collections, heavy formals and ready-to-wear clothing lines, as well as a wide selection of jewellery and accessories.
In addition, Boulevard One promotes brands that support cottage industries and skilled craftspeople from Kashmir, Sindh, Punjab regions in India and Pakistan both.
Boulevard One Online is spearheaded by Sadaf M. Khan, who has wide experience of the regional and global fashion industry. She also brings strong business acumen and management to the operation.
Sadaf is assisted by a team with decades of experience in fashion, finance, logistics, media, technology and customer care, all key ingredients in an e-commerce shopping platform. Also B1 events team is all full of youngsters with amazing energy and new ideas to take every B1 event to another level.
The Boulevard One brand always has something new up its sleeves - i.e., adding a beauty store to their e-commerce portal. The first South Asian online retailer is currently stocking these highly-coveted products. Internationally acclaimed make-up guru, Nabila, is adding her "N-zero" make-up line with B1online, as well as natural spa products brand "Conatural".
Khan has taken her brand to the next level and was awarded Winner of Masala Awards 2018 for best show in lifestyle. Boulevard One's aim is to grow and be a successful gateway to one of the world's most exclusive industries - from the creators to consumers and trendsetters all around the world.
Lilac silk prayer set by Bahr Al Noor Designs.
MASN team — Masha, Alisha, Sasha and Natasha.
(Second from right) Shazia Yusuf Khan
Rohma Nomani with a few colleagues at the Stella McCartney event in 2016 in Dubai.
Tania at Tania's Teahouse.
A guest trying the jewelry at the Boulevard One Exhibition.