Lebanese fitness influencer raises the bar ahead of 6th edition of Dubai Fitness Challenge

Emile Zarife’s AnaSharqi.com and social media have become a rage for healthy living


Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Thu 6 Oct 2022, 11:13 PM

Emile Zarife, who hails from Lebanon, founded AnaSharqi.Com in October 2015 to give a voice to an Arab man.

AnaSharqi, which loosely translates to ‘I’m Middle Eastern’, has evolved into a one-stop online fashion and fitness guide for Arab men.

The portal encapsulates an archetypal Middle Eastern male, who’s fit, fashionable, takes care of his well-being while staying true to his Arab values and heritage.

Zarife considers himself to be that quintessential Arab male, who’s modern and trendy and yet proud of his roots and encourages healthy living.

The website, which has become a rage since its launch, draws its strength from Zarife’s personal accomplishments — he is one of Dubai’s 30x30 Fitness Challenge (DFC) ambassadors and motivational speakers in Dubai Active.

He has also been named Top 100 Influencer of the Year at the International Metaverse conference 2022 and recognised by Esquire Middle East magazine as the Best Dressed Man 2019.

“My aim is to inspire and motivate people to stay fit and healthy,” says a soft-spoken Zarife, who studied Radio Arts and TV in his native Lebanon before moving to Dubai around nine years ago. “Communication has always been in my DNA,” he says with a quiet confidence.

Initially, Zarife started his career in broadcasting in Beirut, Lebanon, and later moved to publishing as an editor for a technology magazine. “In Dubai, I became the editor-in-chief of one of the top Arabic online lifestyle magazines in the region and then went on to found one on my own. Dubai is a city of opportunities and I’m fortunate to have moved here,” he says.

Zarife lays emphasis on his core beliefs. “Healthy body is the source to a healthy mind. Exercise and healthy eating are tools that can help manage stress, improve mood, and make a person happier. When you exercise regularly, sleep well, and make informed eating choices, both your body and brain function at their highest capacity. Everyone can lead a healthy life or start a wellness journey if that person puts his/her mind into it and shows commitment and consistency,” he adds.

Zarife reveals how he became a fitness influencer. “After experiencing how being active and healthy had a positive effect on my physical and mental health, and how it improved my self-confidence and productivity, I made it my mission to promote self-care,” he says.

“I started to share my experience with my friends and acquaintances and when I saw the positive impact on their lives, I started using social media platforms to promote healthy living and wellness. Soon, I created a buzz and became an influencer,” he adds.

Zarife lavishes praise on Dubai as a friendly place for health-conscious and exercise-loving people. “Dubai is the ideal city to stay fit and healthy. The Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched the DFC initiative, which made the UAE ‘the most active country in the world’ and encouraged millions to start their fitness journey,” he says.

DFC’s aim is to inspire everyone to create a fitness-focused mindset and seek healthy lifestyles. “This initiative represents me and is close to my heart. My journey with DFC started in 2019, and it is fantastic to be involved in such an exciting initiative. Being active plays a vital role in the physical and mental wellbeing of everyone. I’m extremely proud to be one of DFC ambassadors and delighted to support such an important initiative in any way possible,” he says.

Each edition of DFC promises to be bigger. Now, in its sixth year, the event will be held from October 29 to November 22, which includes the iconic flagship community events such as Dubai Ride and Dubai Run on November 6 and 20, respectively.

Zarife’s immediate goals are to inspire people to remain fit and healthy and encourage them to start their wellbeing journey with a gusto.

Recently, he launched SharqiTalks, the first Arabic and English podcast, which aims to raise awareness about the psychological aspect of fitness, body issues and mental health.

“Self-care is very important. It is not a selfish mentality as people might portray. I want to inspire self-care in a positive way and motivate others to stay fit and healthy and take care of their bodies. I want people to feel good about their bodies during every part of their journey and I want to raise awareness on cyber bullying and body shaming that is increasing on social media platforms,” he says.

“Fitness is not about the way you look; it’s about how you feel. Feeling good will make you look good and feel more empowered. Don’t look at fitness as a duty, make it a lifestyle. Introduce gradual healthy changes into your habits. Have patience in achieving your goals and praise your progress. And most importantly, don’t compare yourself to others. We all have different bodies, and we must focus on ourselves and our goals,” he signs off.


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