Here We Start – Issue #56

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

November is finally starting with all its galore. It’s the month of two main events in UAE: Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) and AbuDhabi Art Fair. This is the 33rd year the SIBF is running. I still remember when I was a kid and my father used to take us there to get our books stock for the year, as bookshops weren’t exactly as wide spread as they are nowadays. I used to be so fascinated by this fair, actually, I still am! I get excited months before it starts, and I begin to plan my agenda around its schedule of events, ensuring I go few times to get the most of it, browse the new and old books available, and buy my pick. This is one ritual I don’t think I’ll give up in my life, because till date, nothing beats the feeling of being in the middle of books and people who love books and reading. It often feels like finding home within home.

SIBF will open its door to the public on 5th November and will bid us a farewell on the 15th, so make sure you make the most out of it, you’d be surprised what you can find there! Post on your social media your SIBF finds, and tag us so we can be part of it. Our 4th anniversary prints will be available in Knowledge Without Border’s stand in SIBF, make sure you get your copy if you don’t already have one.


I’m honored to announce the joining of two new sailors to the team, bringing along with them amazing content and knowledge:

Abdulla Al-Wahedi: Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Master’s in Business Administration, and long experience in telecom and properties. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blends and formulates his understanding of the UAE’s culture.

Haleema AlOwais: Haleema is the Director of Bin Owais Holding since 2007; overseeing construction, project management and real estate management, master’s student in Urban planning in the AUS with a two-year stint in Sharjah TV. Unconventional working mother, avid traveller, introverted bookworm, background in psychology, a great believer in the need for a continuous soul-searching and self-discovery. Her column “Bringing Out the Rumi in You” will be exploring the philosophical views of current societal paradigm shifts, revelations and everyday experiences.

I hope you enjoy their columns as I’ve enjoyed hearing about their column ideas from them, and reading their first drafts.

 And now to our 56th issue for the month of November 2014:

Hats off to our incredible editorial team: Aida AlBusaidy and Dhabya AlMuhairi. Enjoy our reads, and don’t forget to check out our inspired artworks by our talented creative team: Dana AlAttar, Hayat AlHassan, Marwa Fuad, led by Maryam Zainal.

To keep up with our monthly-published issues and to know about any of our coming events, make sure you register with us by clicking here

 Help us spread the word about the magazine and share the articles with your friends!

Warm regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

Interview with @SalehAlBraik, The Man Behind @ThinkUpGCC – Part 2

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)
Reading Time: 7 minutes

As Thinkup GCC celebrates its 3rd anniversary, our editor in chief interviews her old friend Saleh AlBraik (@SalehAlBraik), the man behind it all. The interview is divided to two parts; the first part was published in October’s issue and covered Thinkup’s different phases since its launch. This month we publish the second part, and it is more about Saleh himself, and his reflection on his journey.

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Sail: You’ve taken a break from your career during this year, to focus on ThinkUp, how did it go?

Saleh: It helped me personally more than it helped the company. I was starting to constantly wonder what if I had ThinkUp as my only focus, where can that lead? As a result of my time off and focusing on Thinkup, though it didn’t remain stable, it definitely grew, but to my surprise, it was the same steady growth whether or not I made it my sole focus.

I don’t think I would have gotten to that conclusion if I continued working, or if I jumped into another job directly; I would have always wondered “what if”.

Sail: You have recently dropped your nickname “Fearless In Dubai” after being associated with it for five years. What made you finally do it?

Saleh: I am a firm believer in timing. Everything comes in its own time. When I came back from my undergrad studies in the UK in 2009, I wanted a fresh start; I didn’t know anyone except my family. I was so happy being anonymous in the UK that I wanted to continue that anonymity. So I created this persona. It was the most entertaining and most difficult performance that I have ever done in my entire life, because that persona was essentially being 20% of who I really was, the 20% that I didn’t want to lose. It was something I felt the public needed to see, or I felt I wanted read. I have met so many special people through those years of anonymity.

It’s only recently that I’ve left my previous job, I’ve achieved things in my life, and people know who I am now. When I looked at a lot of people on social media, I felt envy, because they were who they are and who they wanted to be. I wanted to be myself in front of people, but I was just afraid of it.

I don’t think people can understand what it was like, living under the shadow of that persona. I was being introduced to people as “Fearless in Dubai”, even to diplomats and Sheikhs. Some days I loved it, some days I hated it.

The reason the change came now is that I was starting a new chapter in my life with my new job, and I recently got married, and will sooner or later start my own family. I’ve grown as an individual. I found myself, I know who I am. 2009’s Saleh didn’t know who he was. I am ready to be myself and to show the entire world who Saleh AlBraik is as an individual. Judgment will come regardless, but at least now, I will be judged for who I am, and not just for a piece of me. It’s a huge relief because I’m not a persona anymore, I don’t have to put a mask.

Sail: How did you feel about the journey of ThinkUp so far?

Saleh: It’s a humble feeling of self-acceptance. I keep having an out-of-body experience where I’m just thinking oh wow! It just makes you realize, in 3 years you managed to do all this, so you have no excuse not to change your life, improve your life, or go after what you want.

Sail: Who’s your role model?

Saleh: My dad. I might have not said that pre-2008-crisis. My dad comes from the real estate sector, and during the crisis, it hit us really bad. Nonetheless, never once did he flinch. I saw him through all the problems that came our way, and he would always say: “It will get better. When you have good intentions, God will make it better.”

There were some nights that I thought he was crazy, I think there were nights everyone thought he was crazy. My mum & I kept saying that he’s getting delusional, but it did eventually get better. Every time it gets tough for me, I refer to him. My dad had hundreds of employees, a family of 4 boys, his wife, living with his sister, and with our way of living and our expectations, with all that, he never once made us feel we had anything to worry about. I think that is very admirable. For that, he is my role model.

Sail: What advice would you leave for the youth?

Saleh: Make as many mistakes now while you still can, because it will just bring you closer to what you want to do. If you have something in the back of your head that you want to do, then go ahead, do it because you want to do it, not because someone else wants you to do it.

Finally, I’d like the youth to realize that the entire world has shifted, we’re in a different age now. We shifted from careers and goals that were focused on specific industries to an idealistic world where you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do. Take that opportunity despite all the odds, you might find that you are interested in something else, but you’ll find what it is that you want to do, and you won’t end up with all the “what if” scenarios. Never ever have a “what if” moment.

Quick Facts About Saleh

Sail: Current read?

Saleh: Kiera Cass: The Selection Series

Sail: Favorite spot in Dubai?

Saleh: When I want to hide from the world it’s my mother’s house, otherwise if the weather is good then Park Hayatt because it’s on the creek side; you have the whole skyline of the Burj Khalifa, and it has a Greek design to it.

Sail: Favorite sport?

Saleh: Running.

Sail: Favorite drink?

Saleh: Karak, you can never get enough karak.

Sail: Favorite cuisine?

Saleh: Japanese.

Sail: Favorite artist?

Saleh: That’s a tough question to answer as a ThinkUp founder, with all the amazing talents we feature. I like the Photoshop work of Khalid Al Ramsi(@imaginekhalid). His photo manipulations are incredible. Food: Bader. Photography: Aref Hareb, he takes modern pictures with traditional twists and the effort that goes behind his photos is amazing.

Sail: Favorite movie?

Saleh: Mrs. Doubtfire and Chocolat.

Sail: Favorite quality time?

Saleh: The time I spend with my sister’s kids.

Sail: One person you must take a selfie with.

Saleh: Richard Branson. If I had any regret in my life, it’s about him, because I saw him at the Dubai Government Summit and he was sitting at the table next to me, but I didn’t take a picture with him.

Sail: Someone you’d like to interview.

Saleh: HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, I just need to know how he thinks.

Mubadala’s Youth Forum

Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)

Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)

Column: Hidden Promises
Alia is an AUS student double majoring in International Studies and English literature. She is also the author of Alatash fictional novel. Her main goal is to make a change and empower the youth. Her column is meant to help the younger generations deal with tough situations. It was given that title as hidden promises is what us teenagers often believe; false promises.
Alia Al Hazami (@AliaAlHazami)
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: A review on this year’s Mubadala’s Annual Youth Forum.

Speakers during one of the forum's panel discussions (Picture Provided by Mubadala)

Speakers during one of the forum’s panel discussions (Picture Provided by Mubadala)

Another year has arrived and the much-anticipated event “Mubadala’s Youth Forum” hosted by the Abu Dhabi based Investment and Development company Mubadala, took place on the 21st of October this year.

University graduates and undergraduates were filling the venue to get a taste of their future, as the theme this year was “Our Future, Your Ambition”. The event was planned in a way to help students and fresh graduates with their career planning and choices.

After a short video illustrating the story of Mubadala, the event’s MC Hamad AlHarthi introduced H.E. Dr. Amal AlQusaibi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, to give the keynote speech during which she stressed on the importance of having a global outlook to withstand the UAE’s development.

Following her Excellency’s inspirational speech, the first of two panel discussions started under the title “The Job Market Landscape: Jobs and Perspectives”. The panel was hosted by four Emirati achievers in academic disciplines of science ranging from technology, engineering, mathematics, healthcare and renewables industries. It focused on the importance of having graduate employees working in various science sectors to develop efficiently to grow into global platforms.

To end the first discussion, panelist Dr. Arif Al Hammadi advised the young guests saying: “Students should aim to specialize after receiving their undergraduate degrees…Your GPA is secondary to the skills and knowledge gained during your educational journey.”

The second panel titled “Great Expectations: Your Qualities and Qualifications” was hosted by four Emiratis working in Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Du, Tabreed and Mubadala. The panelists discussed the expectations new employees set for their jobs, and the need to have certain qualities and qualifications to reach their, sometimes, high expectations. Panelist Nizar Luqman highlighted how teamwork, passion, creativity and positive drive are the best qualities one could acquire to go far in their career. “Keep in mind your GPPA and scale it well; Guts, Persistence, Patience & Attitude,” he said.

A new addition was added to this year’s forum, which was ADMAF Comic Award and Mubadala Youth Award. The Mubadala Youth Award was awarded to Hamad AlKaabi, Mishal AlMarzooqi and Alia AlHazami for being young achievers under the age of 25 and to recognize their positive impact on the young community.

Alia AlHazami (on the right) receiving the Mubadala Youth Award (Picture Provided by Mubadala)

Alia AlHazami (on the right) receiving the Mubadala Youth Award (Picture Provided by Mubadala)

The forum ended with a workshop under the title “The Ultimate Career Planning Tool: Knowing Yourself”, the workshop was set to help the young guests find their strengths as individuals.

The Youth Forum was enlightening and helpful in planning one’s career and expectations. The panel discussion left the guests inspired and made them rethink their career paths to match their skills.

Personally, the second discussion panel grabbed my attention the most and made me realize that I need to work hard on whatever expectation I set. Also, it assured me that I am more than my GPA, and my intelligence isn’t measured by a number, but by my skills.

Going Undercover As Fashionista In Social Media

AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud )

Column: Beyond Inspiration
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.

Latest posts by AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud ) (see all)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Article in brief: How the author’s experience as an undercover ‘fashionista’ changed her appreciation for fashion and the realization that its use as a self-expression could contribute to the economy.

ArtWork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

ArtWork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

What is it with people and their obsession with fashion? That’s what I asked myself when I noticed the explosion of fashion bloggers and the swarms of people flocking to their sites seeking style inspiration and advice. I am all for looking good and moderately stylish but what I couldn’t understand was, what seemed to me, the obsessive need to look good and flaunt it. Aren’t there more important things to worry about?

Given the number of people doling out their opinions, it seemed rather easy to become a bona fide “fashionista.” I came up with two theories: either these people have expertise and talent above and beyond a regular girl like me; or the interest from their followers is not really genuine. I don’t like being judgmental, so the best way to find out, I decided, was to give it a go myself.

First, I figured out how these fashionistas operate. They either post photos of themselves wearing their luxury items or they post photos of the stuff they like accompanied by advice on how to style it. The next step was to create an Instagram account where I would do the same. To keep the experiment real, I posted photos of items I already owned and provided advice I considered genuinely stylish. I shared shots of my vintage Gucci bags and my favorite pair of Louboutin’s. I dished out advice on the products I buy that I find truly flattering, such as a great brand of foundation and a certain shade of lipstick that perfectly enhances my skin tone.

To my astonishment, people loved it. Within four months, I had more than 4,000 followers. Some of them were “fellow fashionistas.” Others were “style novices” who sought my opinion before making a purchase, or asked where they could buy the items I had promoted.

The conclusions I came to is that anyone who can create a succession of “looks”, combining brands, and post on Instagram can be considered – rightfully or not – a fashionista in the social media sphere, and attract a following. But the interest and enthusiasm of those who follow fashion bloggers is genuine. I realized that, in some ways, fashion is just a conduit for people to interact and share. It’s not, in most cases, about having exceptional knowledge about fashion so much as how open you are to expressing yourself authentically, and sharing what you find useful to benefit others.

Social media is doing two things: it has unleashed a new passion for fashion, and it’s driving awareness and demand for both luxury and affordable brands. But, as it’s been said before, fashion is a lot about self-expression; what you wear says a lot about who you are. People want to express themselves and, yes, many crave attention, and social media facilitates this.

I’ve met many people who believe that fashion is superficial, and its followers are shallow. They are slightly disapproving and have a tendency to believe people are becoming increasingly materialistic. Let’s not forget though, fashion is a serious business and plays an important role in any economy. According to Euromonitor International, global apparel and footwear sales are expected to pass the $2 trillion mark by 2018. The Middle East and the African region is a significant driver of this growth.

International fashion houses are flocking to the UAE, and there is an increasing recognition of the importance of this industry by government and business. Even more importantly, domestic fashion designers are starting to emerge. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who established the Dubai Design and Fashion Council, underscored this. This organization will help nurture young talents in the UAE and guide the development of the industry. Developing a fashion industry is one important way to diversify the economy, which falls in line with the government’s economic vision. Having such a high concentration of luxury brands and the increasing number of international and local fashion events is also attracting tourists to the UAE.

I cancelled my Instagram account, but my experiment has altered my appreciation for fashion. I will admit I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame as a style guru and the process of interacting with my followers. But, more importantly, I no longer think of fashion as frivolous. I now appreciate just how important social media is in driving such an important industry – one that boosts the economy, creates jobs, attracts tourists, and develops local talent.

Choose a Job You Love

Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Column: Bringing out the Rumi in you
Director of Bin Owais Holding since 2007; overseeing construction, project management and real estate management, master’s student in Urban planning in the AUS with a two-year stint in Sharjah TV.
Unconventional working mother, avid traveller, introverted bookworm, background in psychology, a great believer in the need for continuous soul searching and self-discovery.
Bringing out the Rumi in you will be exploring the philosophical views of current societal paradigm shifts, revelations and everyday experiences.
Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais)

Latest posts by Haleema AlOwais (@haleemaalowais) (see all)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: the author talks about the shift in the society towards self-owned businesses rather than safety of stable salary.

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

Artwork by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)

‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Confucius

come across this quote more times than I can count, but it made sense to me on a deeper level only recently. The security of procuring a high position job in the corporate world has lost its luster, and more soul-searching is going on into finding what touches your soul. Battling guilt from leaving behind the ideal norms of the typical successful working life no longer forms an obstacle for the naturally creative leaders out there, and the world and its growth has made it more possible for this phenomenon to succeed and flourish.

Another quote from another great philosopher stood out for me:

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Aristotle

It’s simple; if you enjoy what you are doing, chances are, you will do a wonderful job at it, mainly because of the joy you bring to it, and secondly, because of the skills you bring with your qualifications.

Here’s one of the stories that made me realize this revelation. While having breakfast at my usual spot in London, I managed to get a chance to properly meet the manager after three years of merely exchanging pleasantries with her, and was blessed with one of the most enlightening conversations I ever had.

Magda came to London ten years ago to settle after living around Europe for the first thirty years of her life. Born to highly educated parents in a communist country, living a dual life of obeying the country’s strict régime and listening to the droning of highly intellectual parents, then being sent to Germany to study bioengineering in hopes of procuring a secure future, she led a proper life without much passion.

Doing everything by the book has not felt right for her, “I like dealing with people and caring for them, not bacteria!” she exclaimed, referring to her parents’ choice of studies.

Arriving to London, Magda took up hospitality studies, putting aside her previous degree and worked her way into the restaurateur business, she then invested in one of the most established restaurants in London, while still working as a hostess, and she newly started launching the work of startup authors and artists. In brief, doing what makes her happy.

When you are lucky enough to know what it is that makes you happy and turning it into your life’s mission, it is no longer a mere job, but you have found your path and going on the right tracks, feeding your soul’s need. Till we reach this stage of realizing what we want to do, it might take some time and wrong turns, which will turn out to be necessary lessons that direct us to the right way. We are all here on our unique mission, and through attaining it, we find ourselves.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” Rumi

A Glimpse Of The Past

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Column: Emirati Reflections
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.
Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi)

Latest posts by Abdulla Alwahedi (@Alwahedi) (see all)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: The author takes us on a walk down memory lane with his visit to one of Dubai’s old grocery stores, and the story behind its owner.

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

Mohammed Mohideen, an Indian national from Kerala, came to Dubai about 35 years ago. He opened a small grocery store which he still operates until today. Visiting his old grocery store in Al Qusais brought childhood memories. His store is no different from “Babu’s” store in our old neighborhood. The fridge, the cabinets, the goods he sells and even the way he arranges things is classic. It all reminded me of a time when having 1 AED, which is equivalent to 0.30 US dollar, in hand was a lot of wealth.

I asked Mohammed, what makes him keep the traditional feel of the store. He immediately said, “My store is like a museum. Kids come here to see how old stores in Dubai used to look like. Dubai has developed so fast and has a lot of buildings. Stores like mine are none existent.”

Mohammed’s words are so true, Dubai has developed so fast and may have lost its traditional UAE ambience. Today communities are surrounded by huge shopping malls and hypermarkets. Stores like his are no longer attractive and business is not like before. Given all that, Mohammed is still resisting changing. A few months ago Mohammed received an eviction notice from the municipality but for some reason it was not forced. He wasn’t bothered a lot with the eviction notice and it seems that mentally he was prepared to leave his old store.

When I told Mohammed about my love to history and my intention to document stories like his, he felt so happy. He introduced me to his neighbors who worked in the laundry and restaurant next to his store in order to document their stories from when they came to Dubai, and they had a lot to say about the changes that they had seen throughout the years.

Mohammed may not be an Emirati, but he certainly knows the importance of maintaining history and traditions amidst our fast growing cities. With his simple words and efforts to introduce his friends, I felt he was trying to repay the UAE by protecting its history.

I thanked Mohammed and his neighbors for their time and promised them a second visit. I felt a need to document what they have to say about their experience in the UAE, as a lot of stories were lost when old grocery stores were replaced with modern ones in a recent modernization exercise in Abu Dhabi.

Technological Innovation in Fashion

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)

Column: Habillez-Moi (which means “dress me” in French)
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
Reem Al Suwaidi (@LumeiRee)
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Article in brief: The writer studies how technology improved prospects in fashion.

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

ArtWork by Marwa Fuad (Twitter: @Marwa_f1, Instagram: @Elmeem_Artistry)

During the 90’s, fashion was a very tight-knit industry. Not everyone had the chance to attend a show and view the collections during a fashion week. It was one of the few known facts indeed; you’d have to personally know the designer, or be one of the brand’s loyal customers in order to get an invitation. But with the progression of technology and the introduction of the Internet, fashion is now more accessible to everyone, even those with little interest in fashion. Shows are now live-streamed on websites, while pictures from the front row are usually posted instantly on Instagram or Twitter. It’s simple to say that technological advancements have a hand in developing the way fashion works nowadays, from retail to design itself.

Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter, is one of the most successful stories in E-commerce. Massenet was the first person to introduce the idea of selling clothes online, and has made a fortune out of it. Of course, many followed suit with her idea, which just solidifies her position in the industry. The concept of being able to purchase the item you want simply by the click of a few buttons is genius. In the early stages since the launch of Net-a-Porter, Massenet earned approximately AED 7 million. That was in the year 2000 alone! Net-a-Porter has come a long way since then, expanding into print magazine and beginning an online outlet: “The Outnet”.

One of the other interesting concepts introduced by technology for fashion design is printing on garments. And we’re not just talking about patterns. Mary Katrantzou, a London-based Greek fashion designer, has earned a fan following of buyers and editors alike. Her secret? Prints. Katrantzou is famous for a technique she’s been using since her days at Central Saint Martins: Scanning in an image into Photoshop to create those heart-achingly excellent prints. Not to mention, she tailors the dresses for the perfect size, at any size. In fact, her designs are so good that they immediately sell out everywhere in stores and even online. Imagine what a piece of art can be created to wear just by using Photoshop! The Greek designer is one of the many pioneers that integrated technology and design.

As shocking as it may sound, Apple is now considered to be another pioneer of integrated technology and fashion. With the release of their newest product, the iWatch, Apple has made headlines for its modish demeanor. The iWatch was showcased twice in Paris, squeezing in between the chaotic schedule of Paris Fashion Week. The first showcase was held in Colette Paris, while Apple hosted the second showcase in cooperation with Azzedine Alaia. It doesn’t end there; the iWatch made it on the cover of Vogue China, modeled by Liu Wen. “I saw the watches and thought they looked rather good; some are sporty and others are very classic and elegant. At the same time, they all have so many functions that would be useful in our daily life. I just thought that they combined technology, style and functionality,” says the editor of Vogue China, Angelica Cheung[i].

I go on to say that with fashion and technology combined, a lot can be achieved. And it seems that I’m not the only one who realized this important fact; several designers also took note. Brands like Tory Burch and Opening Ceremony have produced technology-infused fashion items whether in a collaboration or solely on their own. Tory Burch joined the trend in collaboration with Fitbit Flex on a fitness tracker band: “Wearable technology is an exciting new category,” she stated[ii]. There’s definitely going to be a lot of fuss surrounding this subject, but as for me, I’d love to own a few fashionable gadgets of my own.



Control Your Emotional Triggers

Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

Budoor takes a unique look at the world around her. She applies a sense of the mystical to everyday happenstance and turns it on its head. The result is her column: “Mental Pondering”.
With a background in communications, her passion for writing is driven by the need to voice her thoughts. Budoor also hold an eMBA in innovation and Entrepreneurship, other than writing, her interests include reading and traveling.
Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf)

Latest posts by Budoor Al Yousuf (@BAlYousuf) (see all)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Article in brief: Ever wonder why a sound or a smell triggers emotions or revives memories? Weather good or bad, emotional triggers have a large effect on how people live their lives.

ArtWork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

ArtWork by Dana AlAttar (@DanaAlAttar)

An ‘Emotional Trigger’ is something that sets off an emotion and a memory, flashback or feeling related to a specific event in that person’s life. ‘Emotional Triggers’ are very personal as they are based on the memories of feelings associated with a specific person at a specific time in a specific situation.

There are two types of ‘Emotional Triggers’, the first are external triggers and the most common of them are sight and sound. The second are triggers of habit.

A ‘Sight Trigger’ takes place when seeing something that triggers an emotion, this can be a place, a person or an object, for example: Seeing kids playing football triggers a happy emotion related to the memory of that person playing football with their childhood friends.

The ‘Sound Trigger’ is activated when hearing something that triggers an emotion, like hearing a music piece, a sound of something that was present when a situation happened or something someone said that is linked to a memory. For example: Hearing the sound of a train that reminds someone of a trip they took.

‘Emotional Triggers’ can also react to ‘Smells’, this can either be directly related to a situation or related to a person who was present in a situation. Example: The smell of an old perfume might trigger childhood memories at a specific age.

Feeling or touching something can also be a trigger. This can be something that happened physically like an injury or something that was felt like petting an animal. Example: Touching a specific material while shopping might trigger a memory of something similar that was worn one before.

Last but not least, ‘Taste’. Tasting something that is linked to a memory can work as an ‘Emotional Trigger’, a very simple example is eating a specific dish that can only be found in specific places.

The second type of ‘Emotional Triggers’ are ‘Triggers of Habit’, these occur in relation to things people do in their daily routine, or things that are linked together due to a routine. For example: many people smoke while driving, hence when trying to quit smoking, driving triggers the emotion to want to smoke. It is the same reason why someone would walk into the kitchen to get something, but suddenly find themselves in front of the fridge, although they never wanted anything from the fridge.

The science behind ‘Emotional Triggers’ is very vague, many scientists believe that ‘External Triggers’ have to do with the chemistry of the brain, and the method of which memories and emotions are interlinked and stored. The second type however, is linked to habit and how our brains are wired.

‘Emotional Triggers’ are not always happy or positive, some people have gone through traumatic situations and these triggers remind them of their trauma. In other cases, it is not as serious as a trauma, however it does have a negative impact on people .

The most common example is the word “Diet”. Many people have a very negative reaction to the word “Diet”, as it is related to being overweight and food deprived. This can lead to a person who is told to go on a diet, to actually feel depressed, and in some cases gain more weight. Nutritionists and Doctors nowadays use phrases like “better lifestyle choices” or “eating healthy” instead of “Diet”, to avoid the emotional triggers linked to it.

Knowing what your ‘Emotional Triggers’ are can help overcome some bad habits and control your emotions better. Although figuring out the trigger is not easy, but digging into memories and decoding the emotion will help.

Getting over triggers is even more difficult, as it requires someone to rewire their brain into acting and reacting differently to things that make them feel bad to start with. However, with practice and using the right tools, overcoming these ‘Emotional Triggers’ is very doable.

Note from writer:

A personal example of ‘Emotional Triggers’ and the reason why I researched this subject is my fear of men in military uniforms, I never understood why when I saw a man in military uniform I would get anxious, my heart rate would go up, I start sweating. It didn’t make sense, because I had never had a negative encounter with anyone in a military uniform before.

After years and years of wondering, I remembered the situation that made military uniform an ‘Emotional Trigger’. Over 20 years later that situation still affected me, when I was 29 I figured it out.

My father was enrolled in the voluntary military force during the Gulf War, I was perhaps 7 years old then, and I remembered one night when he was leaving for camp my mother told him to be careful, it scared me at that point, to think that my father could be harmed in any way, I was too young to understand that he would be fine and too scared to ask.

Today, and although I am not 100% comfortable being around men in military uniforms, I am now able to control my reaction as I know what is the trigger.


  • Bang: a loud, sudden, explosive noise, as the discharge of a gun.
  • Emotional: pertaining to or involving emotion or the emotions
  • Triggers: anything, as an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates a reaction or a series of reactions


Book Review: The Samurai’s Garden

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

Column: Pocket Full of Books
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Article in brief: A review of “The Samurai’s Garden” by Gail Tsukiyama.

Book cover of "The Samurai’s Garden" by Gail Tsukiyama, published on 1996 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Book cover of “The Samurai’s Garden” by Gail Tsukiyama, published on 1996 by St. Martin’s Griffin

“When I first arrived at Tarumi, I wondered how Matsu could spend so much time in the garden. But the more time I spend here, the easier it is to see there’s something very seductive about what Matsu has created.” – Gail Tsukiyama

Back in 2003 I was introduced to Gail Tsukiyama’s “The Samurai’s Garden”, which was published in 1996. It is one of those books that I may have never considered picking up in a bookstore, and I have to admit, I’m glad this novel was used as a textbook in my Asian American literature course. This novel is still considered as Tsukiyama’s finest work.

The book starts with Stephen, a twenty-year-old Chinese young man, who travels to Japan in 1939 to recover from tuberculosis. He meets Matsu, the caretaker of the summer house owned by Stephen’s grandparents in a rural Japanese village near the sea. Matsu is first shown as timid and reserved. He approaches life through honour and hard work, but throughout the novel he forms a father-son relationship with Stephen. The book is slow paced, but it succeeds immensely in being hypnotic and intriguing. Tsukiyama’s writing style is plain and simple, yet suitable for a 20 years old narrator.

Loyalty and devotion are some of the themes represented by the extensive descriptions of the Japanese gardens throughout the novel, in order to show the readers how influential they are on the Japanese culture. Gardens are tended to with so much love, hard work, and extreme care. They are a way to heal the human body and soul from illness. It is true that Stephen suffers through his illness; however his suffering doesn’t strike the readers as torturous or impossible to endure.

Even though Stephen was the main character, I think Tsukiyama decided to make overcoming loneliness and suffering tangible emotions in the book. Not through Stephen, but through Sachi, a leper who has been banished from the village when she was younger. It is Sachi that had to deal with the most amount of torture in comparison to the rest of characters. She had to go through exile because of the disease she caught. She endured the loss of her best friend, who preferred killing herself over living the rest of her life as a leper. Even her fiancé and family rejected her, due to her failure in taking her life, which brought them shame and dishonour. At one point, Sachi’s ability to overcome her suffering might seem like a superpower, but I think it’s the author’s way of showing her readers that beauty exists in everything. This is symbolized through the scarred left side of Sachi’s face while the right side of it is unblemished and extremely beautiful. It is a representation of how imperfections are what make the bigger picture whole.

I give the book a rating of 3.5 out of 5, and that’s because of how tranquil the writing seems and how strong the themes of loyalty and honour are in the book. I would’ve given it a higher score, if it wasn’t a slow read.

The Art of Jewelry Making

Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

Column: The Heart of Making
Moza Almatrooshi is an Emarati artist and designer. After attaining a BA from Zayed University Dubai in Interior Design in June 2013, Moza began her journey in trying to find a place in the creative industry in the UAE, starting with catching a plane to Italy to intern in the UAE Pavilion in the Venice Art Biennale 2013. Since then Moza has dabbled in several experiences such as architecture, design, event planning, art exhibitions, and writing for independent publications. Moza continues to journey through life, art, and design.
With mass production sweeping the globe, artisanal talents struggle to retain relevancy. This column celebrates the beauty and human value added to a product that is created with skilled hands.
Moza Almatrooshi (@mozaalmatrooshi)

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Article in brief: This article recounts the learning process of how to produce jewelry pieces by hand.

ArtWork by Moza AlMatrooshi (@MozaAlMatrooshi)

ArtWork by Moza AlMatrooshi (@MozaAlMatrooshi)

In the past, I saw jewelry in my personal and visual vocabulary as a wearable precious metal, beautified by shimmering stones and a polished finish. To me, it was something that could only be refined and elegant. This meaning got turned upside down when I enrolled in jewelry workshop recently.

The workshop’s mentor, Estella from Spain, works as a jewelry instructor at The Design Studio of Azza Fahmy in Cairo, which is led by none other than the renowned designer Azza Fahmy. The studio specializes in delivering educational courses in jewelry design.

Estella’s two-year stay in Cairo has enabled her to acquire an affinity for Um Kulthoum and all things retaining an arabesque essence. Alongside delegating assignments, Estella made sure of raising our awareness on the vast world of jewelry design. This is the part where the exposure to an endless variety of the way jewelry is interpreted and worn flipped my preconceived notions that I have carried all those years up to that point.

There was so much artistic virtue in what was presented to us, all elevated in value because of the conceptuality and craftsmanship put into the pieces, which are treated as micro sculptures. The first week Estella threw all kinds of conceptual design obstacles in our way, which seamlessly transformed from conceptual interpretations of the design obstacles at hand, into our own finished and final pieces.

Cue the commencement of continuous sawing and drilling sounds into our designated pieces of metal. After hours of translating our drawings into polished and tangible pieces, we mused the thought of being able to mass-produce our collections with the help of laser cutters, but then we agreed that if it’s not handmade then it would not be as valuable.