Meet the Dubai-based Saudi designer who uses furniture as a platform for social commentary on women’s rights. On her day off, you’ll find her relaxing to whale sounds and eating rice.
YOU WIN IF YOU SNOOZE
Friday has always been family day – I spend the first half of the day with my family. It’s also the only day I get to sleep in as I’m awake every morning at 5.30am for a 6am workout. I sleep in until about 10am and always feel that it is so well earned. I then head to The Nail Spa where I get my nails done every Friday of the week – it’s kind of my place to unwind and tranquilize! After that I bond with friends and family over home-cooked meals by the pool or we take a trip to the beach or simply hangout in the living room.
THIS IS ME
I’m originally Palestinian, from Jaffa, but I am a naturalised Saudi resident – I was born and raised in Riyadh. I’ve been living in Dubai now for three years – wow, how time flies! I would like people to remember me as a young, female Saudi entrepreneur who made small efforts to not change the world, but simply make a difference.
I’ve always felt passionate about drawing and expressing with color. I then tried it and was actually good at it. Moreover, I felt liberated when I painted, so I continued to do it. I joined IB ART in school for two years which allowed me to further explore this field and it then became a part of my career.
TAKE A SEAT FOR CHANGE
Social commentary is important through design in today’s world because people don’t read as much anymore. If a point or message was to be made, the only way is through a product that humans will actually interact with. It’s not negative or positive, but rather more of an awareness. My product Wisada is an example of that – it’s an orthopedic floor seating cushion in the shape of a bicycle seat that vocalises the rules about transportation for women in Saudi. In 2013, there was a lift on the ban for women riding bikes in Saudi Arabia, which everyone thought was very humorous. That’s the message I was tackling, and floor seating is a prominent Bedouin way of seating that focuses on being relaxed and comfortable.
WATCH AND CREATE
Most of my inspirations are retrieved from observing people around me and understanding what these people are doing and what they are looking for. The Sanctuary, a storage structure for the prayer room, was inspired by people’s need to have all their prayer items in one spot. People usually pray/meditate in the same spot however the items for meditation are always scattered. This was to create a sort of comfort zone/space where everything is in one place to ease a lifestyle.
FLOAT A BAD IDEA
Around the time I was about five or six-years-old, I decided to wear my swimming floaters around my ankles because I thought that would let me walk on water. I’m glad someone witnessed it and saved me from a ridiculous strategy.
It’s okay to be a glow stick; sometimes we need to break in order for us to shine – that’s one of my favourite quotes. There’s another one by Khalil Gibran that translates into : don’t let your clothes or materials you own be the most expensive thing you own so you don’t find yourself one day cheaper that what you wear. Even one of favourite piece of art – a photograph by artist Nasser Al Salem - has a phrase in Arabic which means, ‘Verily, deeds are only with intentions.’ Without the words, the picture is just a play on its meaning and the Arabic language. It’s beautiful.
WHALE OF A TIME
I find the sound of whales very relaxing! I don’t have a white noise machine but I’ve I do have recordings of their sounds that I’ve picked up online and listen to them when needed. Then there’s my 6am intense workouts with my trainer – those sessions usually allow me to release all the stress and anxiety I’ve been holding in.
PAY THE RICE
The last thing I splurged on is rice. I’ve been gluten-free for about four months now and since January was my birthday month, I decided to have a good binge on carbs. My favorite cuisine is Japanese and Katsuya is my go-to restaurant.
SEA, SAND AND HAPPINESS
I would travel to BoraBora – it’s paradise for me. I think it’s most probably because of the beach. I feel so at peace in front of water. It’s usually my escape; a really nice spot on the sand by the sea has always been my happy place.
I think everyone – the young and old included – should watch Wear Sunscreen – a music video by Baz Luhrmann. It’s based on a mock graduation speech written by columnist Mary Schmich, where she gives advice to 18 to 24-year-olds. It’s powerful because it gives key advices in five minutes! Simple, true and very real.
Meeting His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum [Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] was until now the proudest moment I’ve had in my career. He visited us in D3, where my showroom is, and I was chosen as one of the designers who could present my work to him; it was a spectacular moment. He truly enjoyed the pieces. Dubai’s design scene a little bit of a mix at the moment but it’s getting there – people are slowly understanding what furniture and interior design is about and there are more opportunities here than what it was a few years ago.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
My health is the only thing I treasure the most in this world. I don’t have anything materialistic I’m attached to – I trained myself to not do that.