For the past 12 years, Zeina El-Dana has poured passion, hard work, and creativity into her firm, Z7 Communications. “I never imagined that I would reach this level of success with the company,” she says. “It is humbling but also drives me to grow and further succeed.” A mix between public relations and luxury is at the heart of everything El-Dana does. “Every day there is a new brief coming in,” she says, adding that she considers herself “lucky to have some of the best brands in the planet in our portfolio.” Creating connections and uplifting others – women in particular – are crucial to El-Dana. “Ninety percent of our current senior team are women,” she shares. “In fact, around 85% of the entire Z7 team is female. Many of our clients are also women, and hugely successful business leaders, including Valerie Messika, Net-a-Porter president Alison Loehnis, Charlotte Tilbury, Kristina Fidelskaya, the Ferragamo family, and Cindy Chao. Strong female leadership is something we promote and celebrate.”
For this busy woman who is constantly traveling the world, finding her happy place was key. “My home is my haven, where I can recharge,” explains the Lebanese entrepreneur, who shares the space with her dog Zito and cat Stella. “It is a real hideaway for me.” But her search for her abode – which came to an end in 2017 – was no easy task. “I probably looked at 40 different homes before finding mine,” she recalls. “I fell in love with this house as it instantly felt like home when I walked in. I like the light, the bright feel from the high ceilings and windows, and the big garden, where I am lucky to have beautiful birds visit,” she says, adding that she enjoys walks along the nearby canal. “I like being part of the Dubai community in this area. I’m also close to both the beach and the Z7 offices in Dubai Design District.” She recently secured a second office in d3, which aims to be a creative and community hub. The business leader will also soon offer mentorship to an aspiring local designer or artist who resonates with her and Z7. Her work calendar, it seems, continues to teem with new projects.
Spread over two levels, her 370 sqm house located in Jumeirah 2 features white as the predominant color, for its calming and holistic effect. The home was inspired by art, Italian vintage furniture from the 50s, and El-Dana’s fashion look. “My style is quite minimalist but I do like mixing patterns and colors,” she says. “I tend to purchase things I can layer or pair easily. In a similar vein, the minimal, white base in my home is layered with splashes of colors and details, and I am always thinking of new, stylish, and subtle items I could add to my house.”
The airy, sophisticated, cozy spaces showcase pieces sourced in Europe and the Middle East, and reflect El-Dana’s love of travel. “I have furniture from Milan, art from Lebanon, carpets from Tunis and Marrakech…” she says. Among her prized possessions are the collector’s edition of Murals of Tibet from Taschen, signed by the 14th Dalai Lama, which sits on a Shigeru Ban bookstand, and a vintage carpet from Tribal Rugs in Beirut.
Throughout the interiors, different materials contribute to the right balance, with natural elements such as wood, plants, and flowers. “I created my home interior around my lifestyle, which I like to maintain as healthy and peaceful,” El-Dana says. “I also wanted a space that warmly welcomes my friends, so having an open-plan living area works well. I often organize events with a DJ, as I love music. The winter months are spent in the garden outside surrounded by nature and birds.”
After living in Dubai for the past 16 years, El-Dana is determined to continue expanding her business. “The Middle East has been a source of great inspiration to me and Dubai is the land of opportunity. The sky really is the limit here,” she muses. “Watching the emirate’s unparalleled growth since I moved here has motivated me to establish and develop my own successful business. Dubai is home to such a wide variety of cultures. We currently have 18 nationalities in the Z7 team.” Being surrounded by the right people in both her professional and private life has made a difference, but El-Dana still strives for more. “I believe that continuous learning is important for growth and success, and that knowledge enables strength,” she says, adding that she recently started an owner/president management program at Harvard Business School.
In the living room of her home, where she enjoys the golden hour, El-Dana shares her vision of what leads to success. “My advice to any aspiring leader would be to always believe in yourself and maintain a positive mindset. You can achieve anything if you stay focused.”
Originally published in the November 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia