How creative Pakistanis are living the dream in UAE

Lifestyle influencer Ken Doll, painter Ibrahim Gailani, and other creatives tell us how UAE helped them achieve their dreams

By Sadiq Saleem

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Published: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 6:32 PM

UAE is a indeed a home away from home for all those expats who have come from different countries to make a living for themselves and for their families back home. Today on Pakistan’s Republic Day, we spoke to a few notable creative Pakistanis on how the UAE has helped them achieve their dreams and how they plan to celebrate the Pakistan Day in the UAE.

Ken Doll, lifestyle influencer

Adnan Zafar aka Ken Doll is a Dubai based lifestyle blogger who enjoys a massive following across social media platforms.

"11 years ago I came to Dubai and joined a 5 star hotel as a Telephone operator. Leaving Pakistan and my family was a tough call but Dubai has impacted my life in such a positive way. I have been able to create a brand and an image for myself in the world of beauty and luxury and Dubai is a hub for both. For someone who is a keen observer, there is so much to learn from this multicultural heaven. I miss Pakistan everyday but at the same time Dubai is no less than my home. I plan to spend the day by meeting the Pakistani community in Dubai. I have also recently received the driving license, so my patriotic playlist is ready." says Adnan Zafar aka Ken Doll.

Ibrahim Gailani, painter

Ibrahim Gailani is a UAE resident since the age of five and he exhibits his paintings in the Middle-East, Europe & North America.

"For an artist, meeting people from different part of the world is extremely important and Dubai being a melting pot of culture and ethnicities has enabled me to do that. UAE has recognized my artistic endeavours time and again. It has helped me pursue my creativity by awarding me the Golden Visa under the Artist category. My wall-art murals and creative installations have been commissioned by UAE hotels & restaurants and I am truly grateful for this acknowledgement. My country is in my heart wherever I live, and I plan to visit the Pakistan consulate where I believe there will be a flag hoisting ceremony," says Gailani.

Faraz Ali, performing artist

Faraz Ali is a UAE based award-winning performing artist and an orator, who has been studying Urdu literature as both a creative tradition and a sociocultural phenomenon.

"UAE has provided me a global stage to pursue and present my craft to a larger audience. I have participated at various platforms to foster critical understanding and practice of literature. I have been part of Emirates Literature Festivals and was amazed to see the appreciation my art form has received from the South Asians. This acknowledgement has only encouraged me to put my best foot forward and to continue to strive to bring ideas from my region to the global stage. I have hosted some guests over and I plan to read some excerpts of Urdu literature. Could there be a better celebration than an ode to our national language?" says Faraz Ali.

Nadia Siddiqui, CEO Box Office Events

Nadia is the CEO of Box Office Events and has been brought up in the UAE. She is the go-to person when it comes to Pakistani film promotions in the UAE.

‘’I consider UAE as my home. Being the fastest growing country itself, it keeps you on your toes. And in the whole process of constantly improving yourself, you excel as a professional. As a well-travelled woman, I can guarantee that there is no other place like UAE when it comes to safety and security and that is a very important factor for an entrepreneur. I launched a full-fledged event company, Box Office Events in 2014 and I was able to do that because I had faith in the system and the equal opportunities that UAE provides. As far as the celebrations are concerned, I shall be binge watching some Pakistani dramas as I believe they are one of the best in the world,’’ says Nadia Siddiqui.

Sadaf M Khan, CEO Boulevard One

Sadaf Khan is the CEO of Boulevard One, a platform that enables Pakistani designers and couturiers to showcase their creations through exhibitions and fashion shows.

"Ten years ago when I first started Boulevard One, it was my dream to present the beauty of South Asian fashion to an international clientele. To be able to provide these phenomenal designers a platform where they are easily accessible to so many diverse cultures is something that is only possible in a place as welcoming as UAE. It is this attitude of acceptance that has allowed us to evolve from hosting only exhibitions to having our own successful store and e-commerce website where we now cater to multiple nationalities. For celebrations, we have a family gathering planned and I will be all dressed up in a Pakistani jora," says Sadaf Khan.

Rabeel, singer and musician

Rabeel is a Dubai based Sufi and rock singer who has sparked seismic excitement in the UAE’s local music scene.

‘’It was a dream to perform in front of a live audience and UAE fulfilled that for me. UAE is truly a melting pot when it comes to India and Pakistan and since I sing both Bollywood and Pakistani sufi music, I get showered with love from all the people irrespective of where they come from. This kind of appreciation you get only in the UAE. It boosts the morale of the artists and takes us places as well. The visibility that we get by virtue of being in the UAE is hard to match anywhere else. For Pakistan day, we have a strong line-up of Qawwalis of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab who was the Pride of Pakistan. We will be paying him a tribute on the republic day," says Rabeel.

THE SEEN, live music band

THE SEEN is a Pakistani music band that does live performances at different cafes and at private gatherings in the UAE.

‘‘The UAE has welcomed us with open arms and the multicultural aspect of the country brought us the ultimate recognition. Here we have performed for audiences that hail from USA, India, Pakistan, UK and African Counties and the experience has always been flattering yet surprising. UAE makes you believe that music has no language. We have a Pakistan Day special performance at one of the host restaurants and we are preparing to make it a memorable night," the band said.

Sadiq Saleem is a UAE based entertainment writer and can be contacted on his insta-handle @sadiqidas

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