Cultivating Creativity: Emirati Women to Inspire Us
In honour of Emirati Women’s Day , we wanted to take a look at some of the most inspiring Emirati women in the country and the amazing work that they have accomplished in the empowerment of the gender and their contributions to society at large. Given our own love of all things design, we wanted to focus on those in the creative sphere, those that have been forging new visions in art, film, interiors, literature, fashion and even a touch of parkour! Their imagination, passion and drive continues to spark ambition and commitment in others and inspire the next generation of women to test the limits of their potential.
If you are looking for innovative creativity in the field of product design or personalised corporate gifts, look no further than local, multidisciplinary designer Aljoud Lootah. Based here in Dubai, Aljoud prides herself on interpreting Emirati culture and traditional craftsmanship into contemporary designs. She has pioneered a style of contrasting form and function and mixing traditional silhouettes with modern elements. She was also the first Emirati designer to have her work acquired by an international gallery in 2015.
The Silver Screen
One of the most inspiring creative women we encountered was Nayla Al Khaja. This is a woman who has not only found a way to cultivate her talents and passions to create amazing works of art, she has grown an entrepreneurial business from the ground up and works hard to inspire others to take up her mantle and explore their potential. Nayla is the UAE’s first filmmaker and the founder of The Scene Club – Dubai’s first film club. She is an award-winning director and screen writer and she also founded the Dubai-based production company D-Seven Motion Pictures.
Serial entrepreneur and visionary Fatima Al Shirawi is a magician when it comes to colour, design and fashion. Not only is she a graduate of George Washington University, she holds certifications from the Polimoda Fashion School in Florence and the London College of Fashion. Having become a certified colour consultant at the Colour Affects Institute she founded The Gracious F, the leading colour solutions consultancy in the GCC, dedicated to assisting people and organisations through the power of colour science and psychology.
Born in the UAE in 1987, Fatema Al Fardan was someone who always knew what she wanted to do with her life. At the age of 9 she began creating and showed her imaginative vision by filling her textbooks with sketches of outfits and mixing colours, styles and fabrics. She graduated with a First in Fashion Design and Marketing from the American Intercontinental University in London and it wasn’t long before she was interning at Louis Vuitton and designing for brands like Tata Naka and Bora Aksu. Her unique designs are well tailored to emphasize femininity and luxury, a trait fully on display in one of her dresses that was worn by Eva Longoria to the Dubai International Film Festival. She was the also the first Emirati designer to showcase her collection at New York Fashion Week in 2015.
Inspiring Young Minds
If you’ve patronised the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature lately, you may well have caught a session with the pioneering local writer, Asma Kalban. This innovate woman and visionary mind has brought to life so many amazing stories for children; a medium in which she is able to weave her love of nature with her dedication to preserving both the Arabic language and the Emirati culture. Her first book Weaving A Square deals with a topic close to her heart, autism. As well as being so successful the Ministry of Education added to the fourth grade UAE curriculum, Asma donated the profits to help fund educational programs for autistic children.
The Future of Furniture
Another amazing Emirati woman blazing a trail through the creative world is Alia Mazrooei. This innovative Emirati interior design holds a BA in Fine Arts and Interior Design from Zayed University and has already amassed a range of awards to her repertoire. In 2015 she won a prize at the first Porcelanosa Grupe Architecture and Interior Design Awards in the UAE and only a year later presented her inaugural furniture collection at the Young Entrepreneurship Competition Exhibition. She was also one of the few designers selected by Dubai Design District to exhibit at London Design Fair in 2018. This is a young designer whose commissions and pieces to date are simply the beginning of a long, illustrious career and design journey.
Jump for Joy
Amal Mohammed Murad is a passionate creative who has been inspiring others to stretch their imagination in the world of sports. Committed to the notion that Emirati women don’t need to tie themselves to one facet, she is a huge proponent of pushing boundaries and demolishing labels. Pining her down on career descriptions leads to a list of talents including graphic designer, fitness coach and the only Emirati parkour coach in the UAE. She believes that women’s passion for adventure and capacity to meet challenges make them uniquely qualified to excel in areas that require discipline, imagination and dedication.
Afra Atiq is quite the force to be reckoned with. This award-winning spoken word poet has already travelled the world to perform and share her creativity and passion. Holding court in locations from Kuwait to the USA, her work focuses on what Emirati identity means in a contemporary context. She uses her gift to spread knowledge and passion, as well as to inspire young Arabic women to reach for the stars when it comes to their dreams. To further that goal Atiq holds regular workshops with Untitled Chapters which aims to expand the landscape of literature by inspiring female Emirati writers of all ages. A vanguard to be sure, in 2017 she won the ADMAF (Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation) Creativity Award, the first time in which spoken word was granted such recognition.
Expressive StorytellingAbeer Tahlak is a woman with an eye for detail, heritage and potential. Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, she has always had an imaginative talent that now exists to help others achieve their dreams. She co-founded the multi-disciplinary design firm Tinkah which has united artists, designers and artisans in crafting culturally relevant solutions and unique narratives. Their icon is a utilitarian tin container that was historically tailored for different purposes. That multi-functional ethos lies at the heart of their thinking and their capacity to elevate and enhance design for everyone.
- Rana Osman