How 13-year-old artist Yasmeen Suleiman is making a mark in the NFT world

She is amongst the youngest NFT artists and entrepreneurs in the UAE


Joydeep Sengupta

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Photo by Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo by Rahul Gajjar/KT

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 5:29 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 10:44 AM

Yasmeen Suleiman, 13, is a precocious talent. She is an ode to the emergence of Dubai as a non-fungible token (NFT)), Web3 and Metaverse hub, where virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) are creating a parallel universe powered by blockchain technology and letting the power of young minds run wild.

Yasmeen is probably the youngest NFT artist and entrepreneur in the UAE, who launched her debut project in May 2021. She was a pioneer of a growing international list of teenagers who have enjoyed success in the NFT space selling blockchain-based tokens that represent a unique asset like a piece of art or other digital media. Experts say, an NFT is ownership and authenticity for any asset, whether digital or physical.

Her work has even caught the attention of Gary Vaynerchuk — popularly known as Gary Vee — the Belarusian-American serial entrepreneur, thought leader and Metaverse influencer. Gary not only bought some of Yasmeen’s art from her debut project but went on to talk about her on his YouTube show.

Yasmeen and her family are originally from Kyrgyzstan — the Central Asian republic that became sovereign in 1991 after the break-up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Her mother Assel has been the proverbial rock in Yasmeen’s life after her father abandoned the family four years ago.

Yasmeen, Assel says, has always been creative and mature beyond her years. “From the moment she could walk, I think she was looking for ways to create and art has always been her true passion,” the proud mother reminisces. Yasmeen, too, looks back in wonder about her formative years in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, where her creativity was born.

“I’ve always loved art and I think as soon as I could hold a pencil I was drawing. I never took any special art classes — I just used books and YouTube videos to learn new techniques and skills. I always like trying new forms of art — from painting on canvases to working with clay and recently I’ve been building small model scenes as “book nooks” for my bookshelves. Working with apps like Procreate on my iPad allows me to create using a range of brushes and effects,” she says.

VR came to her life around three years ago and opened a brave new world. “Earlier, I was using borrowed HTC Vive headsets. I enjoyed it so much that I asked for my own headset that Christmas and got an Oculus Quest, which is what I use now. It’s so much easier creating without being tied to a computer, but exporting the content can be a little trickier,” says the bubbly teenager, who has been going places since her initial foray into phygital, bridging the gap between the physical and the digital world.

How did Yasmeen get into NFTs? “I got into NFTs last year and I released my first collection in May. I then launched my larger ELVEN collection (see box) on my 13th birthday last September,” she says.

“It has been amazing to be part of the NFT community and see people from all over the world enjoy my art. The fact that my art helped me earn a three-year scholarship at Hartland International School was incredible and I feel blessed and lucky. The school is excellent. I’ve been able to participate in lots of new projects in school team and creating a dress design for Junk Kouture, which will be held in Abu Dhabi this year,” says Yasmeen.

Fiona Cottam, Principal of Hartland International School, is proud of Yasmeen’s feat. “Though Yasmeen is an entrepreneur and at the cutting-edge of thinking, above all else she is a diligent, kind- hearted and thoughtful student. She is incredibly humble and despite her success, always gives her best. Indeed, I’m sure that given her focus and determination she will be successful in an array of fields in the future. We will be watching this space to see where her innovative thinking takes her in life” says Fiona.

Yasmeen, who is a bright pupil, has her career path chalked out. “I’d like to study fashion technology in a reputed university,” says the teenager.

Steve Bambury, an educationist-turned-Web3 & Metaverse consultant, says, “Yasmeen is an amazingly talented young artist and adapted to the world of VR and then NFTs with speed, skill and charisma. She deserves her success and continues to find new ways to challenge herself,” says Steve, who deserves kudos for introducing Yasmeen into the fascinating world of the Metaverse and VR.

Sahil Singh, chief technical officer (CTO) of Twin Reality and Founder of CyberTribe, has recently built a virtual gallery

( for Yasmeen in the Metaverse.    “At CyberTribe, we’re building web 3-enabled virtual galleries to enable artists to showcase their work in a three-dimensional (3D) space. Being able to support emerging young artists like Yasmeen is an important part of our growth and development,” says Sahil.

Yasmeen is grateful to her doting mother and Dubai’s cutting-edge innovative ecosystem that is helping her stay on course to realise her cherished career goals and the art of giving.

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