Nada Al Ghazali tackles online ethical fashion

Nada Al Ghazali tackles online ethical fashion

Ethical fashion and unique designs are what Iraqi Canadian Nada Al Ghazali, the creator of online boutique store Zahr Art, wants to bring to the United Arab Emirates. She talks to Khaleej Times about sourcing unique and ‘Fair Trade’ fashion.

By (Jenna Powell (

Published: Mon 12 May 2014, 12:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:28 PM

What made you start Zahr Art?

After years in the corporate world, I decided to venture out on my own because I wanted to do something that I truly loved and enjoyed. I have always had an interest in fashion, interior design and art, so, after a lot of research, I decided to open my own online business within the fashion and interior industry and was born. It was so important for me though, that ZahrArt wasn’t just an online boutique – I wanted it to really be meaningful and make a difference if it could.

At the time, I had seen a few Fair Trade boutiques abroad and really loved the concept, seeing how it could positively uplift people’s lives and raise awareness for some very worthwhile causes. I decided that I wanted to do something similar in the UAE, but knew that I was taking a risk as the concept is so new here. I realised that while Fair Trade was important to me, I needed another unique element, so most of the items sold have a very special story to tell or message to deliver – a concept of “where fashion meets art”. It encourages people to try and see behind the materialistic items they buy and try to know more about the people behind it.

Is it hard to find interesting and unique clothes and accessories in Dubai?

Well, the thing about shopping these days is that everything is mass-produced. So, even if you try to avoid it, you somehow always end up in the same stores buying the same clothes and accessories as everyone else. I’m sure we’ve all experienced seeing someone wear the same outfit as you when you’re in the mall or at a friend’s party. I think that’s why online shopping has become so big. Everyone wants something unique, and one-of-a-kind, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Zahr Art.

Do you think more people are going online to browse and buy their fashion and accessories?

Definitely. Online shopping is growing more and more, from the big names to small boutiques like mine. It’s not only appealing to the younger generations anymore, everyone is becoming comfortable with buying their fashion and accessories online. It’s much more convenient, especially since you can return the items if you change your mind. You also have more variety to choose from, and you have the added benefit of buying something that no everyone is going to have.

Are your customers mainly from the UAE?

My customers are mostly from the UAE and the Gulf region. But, I have also had orders from all over the world, including the U.K, the US, France, and Australia, as well as neighboring Arab regions such as Jordan and Lebanon.

What are some of your favourite finds?

It is really difficult to choose to be honest. I love all of the pieces that I have but here are some of my absolute favorites:

• Kayu, a California-based designer with a mission to combine artistry, ecology, and ethics in a modern yet timeless collection to design unique stunning bags.

• Georgina Skalidi, a Greek-based designer who designs handmade bags using simple geometric lines and architectural dimensions.

• Annada, a luxury accessory brand that collaborates with Middle Eastern artists who allowed their beautiful art work to be transformed into luxurious silk scarves.

• Elizabeth Cole’s handmade jewellery, from the United States, known for its boldness and uniqueness and inspired by the antique and vintage jewellery.

• Azaa Bijou, a Middle Eastern jewellery designer influenced by the unique geometric shapes present in Islamic architecture.

What are your tips for buying the right jewellery and accessories online?

Always check that the website is reputable, offers secure payment, and has excellent customer service. Also, make sure you can return the item easily. As for the accessories themselves, make sure the size is right because pictures are sometimes deceiving. Do a little research about the designer of the accessory you are interested in, since they may have a reputation for low quality products. And my final tip applies to all shopping: follow your gut feeling, if you love it, go for it.

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