Emirati entrepreneurs Noora Saeed and Sally Al Khatib reveal how they turned Lash Dubai into a cult beauty brand.
“False lashes are made for women of the Middle East. We have big eyes that complement them. It’s part of the region’s makeup look,” begins Noora Saeed, one half of the duo behind Lash Dubai. She flashes a smile in the direction of her business partner, Sally Al Khatib. They could be sisters. With large, almond-shaped eyes, perfectly groomed brows, and jet-black hair, they are quintessential Emirati beauties. “It’s very important for eyelashes to look natural, regardless of how heavy your makeup is,” Al Khatib says. “Unless, of course, you’re going for a daring look. That requires feathers and colored lashes.”
Originally printed in the October 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.
False lashes first gained traction in the Middle East in the 1920s and garnered popularity with the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema in the 1940s. Favored by actresses of the era, they have remained an integral part of Arab women’s beauty routines. Today, false lashes are a familiar accessory for women across the globe, transcending cultures and trends. The region saw several eyelash brands launch with a resurgence in the trend during the early 2000s but after the market became saturated, only a handful remained. By focusing on luxury, high-quality false eyelashes, Lash Dubai has become one of the most successful beauty brands in the region since its launch in 2014, worn by everyone from the Kardashians to French It girl Fanny Bourdette-Donon, and used by makeup artists and influencers like Tamanna Roashan and Fouz Alfahad.
Born and raised in Dubai, 31-year-old Al Khatib, the business savvy of the pair, and 27-year-old Saeed, whose outgoing personality prescribes her as the creative, met while studying at the University of Dubai in 2010. Following graduation, they spotted a niche in the market. “We wanted to open a store that stocked all kinds of lashes to suit everyone. We wanted a huge variety,” tells Al Khatib. “We contacted some international brands to stock their lashes, and after facing rejection, we decided, why not do it our own way?” Working from home, alongside studying and having jobs, they began to lay the foundations for Lash Dubai.
After researching the different shapes, sizes, and depths of eyes, as well as folded and droopy lids, they began developing lashes for these particular concerns. “We launched with only eight styles,” says Saeed, “We wanted to focus on quality.” This includes the materials used – they work predominantly with 100% mink, silk, or human hair; the thickness of the band that holds the lashes; the flexibility; and the durability of the product. They perfected every detail of the lash, without compromising their personal ethos. “We live in a time when, fortunately, we can help end animal testing and cruel methods of sourcing materials. Everything is easier to make, without having to hurt our beloved furry friends,” says Al Khatib.
Their success is also due to their unique designs. The lashes are offered in a variety of forms and lengths and even the most dramatic styles – with layered hairs and a thicker density – are lightweight. The collection currently has 18 styles, ranging from AED50 for individual mink hair lashes to AED200 for a set of human hair lashes. The pair also offered classes to show women which lashes suited them best, how to apply them, and what makeup to wear with each style. From this followed collaborations with Emirati makeup artists, including Shaikha Al Marzouqi, Iman Al Tamimi, and Maryam Al Kaabi – who have all had Lash Dubai sets named after them.
“We have worked with amazing people who are leaders within the makeup industry and who use false eyelashes on a daily basis,” Saeed shares. Lash Dubai also sponsored global makeup masterclasses with celebrity artists Mario Dedivanovic and Patrick Ta. But it’s not all glamour, though – the pair also does outreach work with their “Spread Love” initiative. They’ve provided gifts for Eid to an orphanage in Syria, collected new clothes for laborers in Dubai, and donated their profits during Ramadan to less fortunate families in the UAE, and to breast cancer awareness initiatives during October.
Considering their success, Khatib says, “I would have given up a long time ago without Noora.” Saeed nods, “We complete each other.” Throughout the highs and lows of running a business, they have remained best friends. They’re not slowing down, either – Lash Dubai will soon expand to include limited-edition lashes, eyelash glue, a storage box, and travel kit. “Never say never,” Saeed emphasizes. “When you set a goal, try your best to achieve it. Remove all of the negativity around you and focus on that goal. It will happen.”
10 RULES FOR EYELASH APPLICATION
1 Opt for mink lashes for a more natural look, with silk offering added drama.
2 Always apply makeup first. It will be difficult to do so after applying your lashes.
3 Cut the lashes to the desired length.
4 Add glue to the lash band and allow to dry for 30 seconds.
5 Use tweezers to get the placement of the eyelash right.
6 Fill in any gaps with a black liquid liner.
7 Once applied, hands off. 8 To remove, soak a cotton pad in oil-free makeup remover to help loosen the glue.
9 Remove gently and clean the lash without soaking it.
10 Allow the lashes to dry and store them in their box to keep their shape.