One with bedouin upbringing, another a 'princess at home': Meet 2 UAE girls showcasing traditional Emirati creativity

DIDI students attribute their achievements to the young nation’s 'visionary leadership' that's 'encouraging women empowerment'

Media Omair Al Falasi and Asma Jamal Al Marri. Photos: Rahul Gajjar
Media Omair Al Falasi and Asma Jamal Al Marri. Photos: Rahul Gajjar

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 5:23 PM

​​Romancing the stone binds the charming ladies and the final year students at the Dubai Institute of Design & Innovation (DIDI) — Asma Jamal Al Marri and Media Omair Al Falasi.

Asma and Media have had contrasting formative years, despite their common love for jewellery designing, traditional Emirati arts and crafts.

Asma, who has five brothers, is treated like a “princess at home”, as she is the only girl child in the family. She grew up amid the hustle and bustle of Deira, the old Emirati quarters of Dubai, which was largely a stronghold of local fisher folks and pearl divers. Her family is no exception, as her eyes lit up while talking about her 12-year-old kid brother whom she treats like “her son”.

Media had a traditional bedouin upbringing at an Emirati farm at Al Marmoom. She grew up among camels — as she excitedly shows the image of Jamila on her smartphone — salukis, horses and cattle.

“Though our family shifted to Jumeirah, the first 10-odd years of my life were undiluted fun in those natural desert surroundings. Over the years, the world around has changed — now we’ve artificial lakes, imposing malls, glitzy cinemas and idyllic walkaways,” Media said while reflecting upon her formative years.

Asma is incredibly proud of her father Jamal’s hard work and perseverance that ensured a lavish childhood for her and while her mother, an educator, has been the “rock of my life”. She revisits her childhood when she strikes up an animated conversation with her grandmother. “She regales me with fascinating stories of my grandfather’s hard work as a fisherman in neighbouring Kuwait and Bahrain. We’re fortunate to have a privileged upbringing because of my father and grandfather’s hard work. My father is my hero because he’s a self-made man,” said a beaming Asma as she takes immense pride in her beloved father’s achievements.

Asma Jamal Al Marri
Asma Jamal Al Marri

Jamal is a businessman. He owns Takhlees Government Services, which is the first business that has been providing government services in Dubai since 2006. He is also into exports and imports and bringing foreign direct investments (FDI) to the country after serving the UAE Army.

Media weighed in on the Emirati work culture, which she attributed to the young nation’s “visionary leadership” that's "encouraging women empowerment".

“It’s a well-known fact that those who inherited wealth are not sitting on them but are constantly trying to multiply their riches as we strive towards creating a just and equitable society. Ours is a unique culture, where the wise leaders treat us one big family. We don’t need to look any further than the kind of facilities and entitlements such as free education that Emiratis are endowed with.”

Asma echoed her batchmate. “We’ve unflinching love, loyalty, and respect for our leaders. Our achievements reflect their vision. No wonder, we never question them ever. Their wish is our command.”

Media cited honesty, patience, tolerance and generosity to her “Bedouin lineage”.  Asma pointed out “the ever-strengthening bonding and trust among the compatriots that’s impossible to break”.

Despite their dissimilar upbringing, the passion for arts and crafts from a tender age is what unites them.

They said in unison that they “chose DIDI after toying with few other courses” because it’s multidisciplinary and its international curriculum.

Media Omair Al Falasi.
Media Omair Al Falasi.

Media’s keen interest in arts and crafts were evident as she won applause and awards for her projects when she was in Grade VII.

Similarly, Asma displayed her innate talent towards design at an early age, even though initially she was unsure about her career path till DIDI opened a “brave new world” for her.

Media, who is working at the Museum of the Future, enrolled in DIDI after taking courses as a professional make-up artist, perfume creation and fashion design.  “I stayed at home for three years and helped my mother. I thought I was done. I was under the impression that I’ve earned the requisite certificates with fashion and perfume creation,”  she said with an impish smile.

DIDI’s high point is critical thinking and innovation, which attracted both Asma and Media, who belong to the Class of 2019 — the first batch graduated in May this year. Product design and strategic design management brought the two classmates further closer as their design of intricate ear cuff jewellery, which is a tribute to the past generations of Emirati mothers, was shortlisted for the prestigious L’ECOLE x ADMAF Jewelry Design Fund. For the uninitiated, the initiative aims to spread awareness about the knowledge of jewellery making in the UAE, celebrate mastery of craftsmanship and, most significantly, an openness to the world.

DIDI’s unconventional approach to design lays emphasis on innovation and sustainability as it encourages students to create new fabrics, 3D printing.

The soon-to-be-design graduates said, “we don’t use polyester as a clothing material. We recycle old clothes. Besides, concept and functionality are the heart of the design that can create awareness in a unipolar world, where change, like life, is the only constant.”

Asma and Media said that they owe their success as upcoming designers to their Brazilian professor Andrea Macruz, who focuses on nature and advanced computational systems.

Macruz pushed “us to take part in the competition during the middle of Ramadan and we burnt our midnight oil to come up trumps.”

Such selfless appreciation of a guiding force in their lives is a well and truly Emirati trait.

Take a bow.


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