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Rym Saidi, Haifa Beseisso and More UAE-Based Creatives Reflect on the Past Year and Share Their Future Hopes

Creatives from a cross-sector in the UAE that has shaped luxury, fashion, and design share how they have been impacted in the past year – and their hopes for the future.

Alia Bin Omar
Jewelry designer

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“Buying jewelry is not a necessity and many people have stopped socializing, so there are fewer occasions to showcase my work. I had to learn to do business in a different way. I now focus on customizable pieces and my other projects that consist of objects other than jewelry. The past year has made me even more grateful for the opportunities that came my way and for the people that I have in my life.”

Mahira Abdelaziz
TV presenter

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“I filmed three episodes of my television show in one day before being evacuated out of Beirut on the last flight to Dubai before the shutdown. I created my own live Instagram show during Ramadan, explored TikTok, and found creative approaches to brand collaborations. I had more time for my own brand, and that complete digital shift made me realize that this is the world today. Online is where we live and evolve. This past year taught me how equipped we are as humans to adapt to any new situation, and how we can come together as a community that nurtures one another in the face of crisis.”

Tarik Al Zaharna

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“We know now, more than ever, that architects and designers are vital to the wellbeing of our environment and everyone in it. Our work and responsibility must go far beyond making things ‘look good.’ I’ve prioritized family, health, and wellbeing. Everything else falls into place after that.”

Yasmine Yeya

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“If I were to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, 2020 was a blessing in disguise. Before the pandemic, I had never had the time to look at my creations from a distance. The situation pushed me to take a much needed pause to reassess who I am as a brand. On a personal level, I bonded more with my loved ones. It was like the noise stopped and we could finally think. In a world where we have gotten so used to being in control, I was extremely humbled by this divine intervention.”

Haifa Beseisso
Travel influencer

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“With international travel grounded, I finally had the chance to rest since launching my brand six years ago. It was time for the brand to catch up with me, my mentality, and my growth. My sister was particularly supportive during this time and I even made a video called ‘corona gave me the gift of sisterhood.’ previously, we didn’t get along well and now we are the best of friends. I also spent beautiful quality time with my mom. I always felt guilty for not spending enough time with my family because of all the traveling. So, you could say, this year, I am traveling to the world within.”

Carla Saad

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“I have spent most of the time surrounding myself with nature. It served as inspiration for me creatively, allowing me to focus on writing and composing music. Without gigs, most of us resorted to online performances. Though unpaid, it still allowed us to maintain our connection with our supporters and our sanity. Mental health has definitely been a priority for me this past year. I started therapy in April last year to help me understand my own unhealthy patterns and deep-rooted demons. I worked on being vulnerable, making different choices, cutting cords with people and things that didn’t serve me positively… And so much beauty came gushing in to my life.”

Rym Saidi

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“In January I gave birth to my second baby, so I was expecting to take a break from work, but then mid-year we moved to Dubai and I started a new career as an actor. I appreciate now, more than ever, my family and health. Previously i took for granted how open the world was and our ability to explore it without barriers. And then it all stopped. I was away from my husband for four months (he was in Dubai, we were in Lebanon) and didn’t see my family in Tunis. My hope for 2021 is a return to normalcy and, of course, a solution for the virus.”

Varun Khemaney & Khalil Dahmash

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“We have come to value all the great nights and events that we had in our venues prior to this pandemic. We truly miss the close human interactions, which played such an integral role in setting our vibe – small things such as handshakes, hugs, high fives, and dance moves. Last year was all about survival and we hope that 2021 can be all about growth.”

Sandra Chidiac

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“I am Lebanese and prior to Covid-19, my country was already starting to face the worst collapse of its history. After the Beirut explosion, for a few months, the idea of holding a camera wasn’t something I was able to consider. My city was shattered to pieces, like our hearts. Although Covid-19 has drastically affected the fashion industry worldwide, I haven’t been sad about one thing: being collectively forced to realize how much of a consumer society we have become. Now, I place less value on material assets and have seen that happiness is in the smallest things, the simplest moments, and human connections.”

Zeinab Alhashemi

Photographed by Amina Zaher

“It has been challenging, emotionally and career-wise, for everyone. I wanted to figure out how to give back to the art industry. I have been working with a lawyer friend to benchmark artists’ rights in the emirates and will propose it to the entities managing the culture and arts sector. I don’t want to take things for granted in the future. As an artist, how can I help and offer my services to the community?”

Read Next: What is the Role of Fashion and Creativity, Post-Pandemic?

Originally published in the March 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia

Photography: Amina Zaher
Style: Katerina Nikolaeva
Hair and makeup: Ivanna
Style assistant: Daria Sedova
Makeup: Nabila Merchant
Location: Palazzo Versace Dubai

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