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Nuna Atelier hits the streets of London

Street-chic, practical and oh so slick. That is how we would describe the latest travel wear capsule from Nuna Atelier. In true Emirati essence, the brand has made its journey overseas to the streets of London, making itself quite at home amongst the get-up and go street style that the British capital is famed for. We headed to Chiltern Firehouse, a hotspot of London chic and quintessential English elegance for a catch-up with Nura, creative director of the brand. Speaking on why she chose London, Nura attributes London’s strong fashion individuality for why the collection would fit in here.  “It’s the perfect place to showcase expression through fashion. London street style is very daring, sometimes casual, or even heavily statement-ed but never the same. The structure  and overall silhouette of the pieces make them ideal for dressing up or down. That feature is something that works  particularly well in London where you have a fast pace. One could be going from laid-back to dressed up in minutes and our pieces afford the wearer that change”. In keeping with true London style, it was over this soiree that Nura met her muse for the London shoot. Dressed impeccably in a black and white ensemble, Nosheen Mahmood (found at @noshyyyym) instantly became the perfect example of how Nuna Atelier can be rocked for everyday looks.  Shop the collection now:

Photography by: @wwags





Dulce by Safiya: the latest fashion brand taking Dubai by storm

From sunny Califor N I A, to the metropolitan desert of Dubai; Safiya, curator and director of modern minimalist label Dulce, talks us through how she went from accepting compliments on her own-made outfits, to creating a label housed in Dubai’s hottest fashion hubs and worn by the likes of Lindsay Lohan.

Like the best of journeys, Dulce’s inception began unexpectedly; in the dusty back streets of Dubai’s design district where Safiya found herself positively enthused at the assortment of colours and textures of her surroundings.


“About 3 years ago I found myself in a part of Dubai which is known to be a bit rough around the edges. All of the textile shops happen to be here and​ as soon as I entered​ one, I felt an excitement I hadn’t felt since I was a kid in a candy store; the possibilities were endless! I started designing things for myself which I felt the market lacked. Trendy pieces which pushed the limits of the norm; my designs fall in the place where typical modest fashion meets the runway.

I began designing niche pieces that got so ​many ​positive compliments every time I wore them out. When people asked where my garment was from, I would just say it was a secret to be revealed. The funniest thing was that I didn’t even have a plan to start my own line at that time, I was only making things for myself. However, the reception I received and the questions about who made what I was wearing, propelled me to start.”


So what was your initial goal?

I had more of a three part goal. Firstly, to create things I needed in my closet that celebrated my choice to wear hijab and made me feel more feminine. I love hijab but I think we can all relate to having those days where we wish we could wear our hair out and feel beautiful and girly. My line aims to make women feel feminine without compromising on fashion or modesty. Above all, a woman should feel more confident, empowered, and beautiful by wearing Dulce.

My other intention was to harness a creative outlet for myself. Being born and bred in California, moving to Dubai was a huge change to what I had known my entire life. Building Dulce in Dubai single-handedly, pouring my energy into it using the resources of my new home around me, has definitely helped to make Dubai feel more like home.

And finally, for Dulce to gain world wide recognition with women all over the world wearing it. That would make me feel that all my hard work has begun to be acknowledged.

Have you surpassed it? If not, do you see yourself approaching it?

I have surpassed the first two definitely. For the last goal, I am still paying my dues and with time and patience inshallah I know Dulce will grow.

Describe the brand in three words?

Feminine, modest, & timeless


You are on the verge of releasing the new lookbook for Dulce. Talk us through the development of that. How long it took? What the initial vision was and your reaction to the final results. Were they what you expected?

The shoot which can often be the hardest part couldn’t have turned out any better. The concept development and all that goes into a lookbook is a lot of work. People simply flip through the pretty pages and don’t realize how many hours of planning, styling, and shooting goes into creating it!

It took 6 hours to shoot 10 looks and once the images are completed I’ll begin choosing the images for the lookbook and piecing it all together. The vision is to showcase how there is something in this collection for every woman and every event. Whether it’s the most glamorous gown / kaftan you own in your closet or a comfortable chic track suit you can wear to a girly lunch date.

Which piece is your current favourite and describe how you would wear it?

That is the hardest question to answer! I can’t choose one! I have to choose 2! My favorite glam piece is the 24 K Kaftan gown and my favorite everyday get-up is the Bolly-BLVD Trackie.

I would wear the 24k kaftan gown to a special event. It literally needs no accessories as it is already super glam on its own.

The Bolly-BLVD trackie is so easy to wear, stylish to the max and beyond comfortable! It can be worn on a trip to the mall with a top to complement the white undertones or gold embroidery. My favorite part is the hood for those times you want to go unnoticed!


Looking back, what is the one quality you have that lead to success?

I would have to say the gift of gab! My ability to talk to almost anyone and relate to most people I meet has been an asset. Dressing and befriending Lindsay Lohan has also definitely helped a bit in the terms of networking as well.

Describe a typical working day?

My typical working day consists of sketching an idea I may have dreamed up or thought of by chance, sometimes after the school drop, or on a a trip to the textile shops, or just from looking for inspiration by reading poetry or watching old ​Hollywood films.

With so many brands both independent and mainstream, do you think the fashion world is at a risk of becoming saturated?

The funny thing is when I started I didn’t reali​se just how saturated the independent label pool was. Being unaware allowed me to purely focus on what I had as my vision rather than comparing it to other brands.


What do you do during ‘me’ time?

I have a bit of an obsessive personality so my current fixation is making Dulce better every day. When I take any time off for myself it usually consists of listening to some of my favorite motivational speakers, or a rare trip to the salon.

Would you say that the reality of women building each other up is growing or stagnant?

I would say the notion of women building each other up depends on where you live and the amount of competition people have built up in their own minds. From my experiences in life I have yet to meet many people who are authentic but I thank God everyday that I have been lucky enough to have met some extremely amazing women. They have not only pushed me when I felt like quitting, but help me achieve my goals and more. They know who they are because I remind them often of how grateful I am for them 🙂


One of the keys to business success is networking; what advice or tips would you give women new to this concept?

Never give up on a dream that fulfills you, there will always be naysayers no matter what you do in life. Do not let their insecurities affect how you feel about yourself, your goals and what you do. Something my Mexican mama always taught me was ‘never be afraid to ask for anything, the worst outcome is they may say “no”‘. Then you move on and reconfigure your next plan to execute your vision.

From where do you get inspiration?

I get a lot of my inspiration from just feeling and draping fabrics on my mannequin, ​I call ​Felicia, or watching old movies of Audrey Hepburn and the likes of old Hollywood glamour icons​.


We love that! How do you overcome creative blocks?

I thank​ Allah that​ ​I​ have yet to really experience a creative block as yet. Sometimes I design the first phase and realise the direction I wanted initially has changed. In that case, I go back to the drawing board. But when I feel spent I know I need a break and go back after I’ve had a decent night sleep.

How involved are you in the design process?

I am extremely involved. I have my seamstress creating each individual piece step by step with me. I usually craft the measurements personally, especially when I have a custom order. Once we perfect the bodice we move on to the sleeves and details in between together. Seeing a sketch come to life is by far the most rewarding feeling.

How does the brand speak to women? Is there a particular type of woman Dulce is aimed at?

The brand speaks to women by giving them the sense that any woman can feel beautiful. Dulce is not size or type specific. It is simply for the woman that wants to feel feminine and glamorous without compromising her modesty or functionality.​ ​


Name three female designers that inspire you?

Three designers who are definitely an inspiration to me are Nicole Richie, I love her bohemian flowy frocks and tops!

Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet, and Madiyah Al Sharqi, a designer based in Ras al Khaimah with designs that are out of this world!

Your proudest moment?

I would say in the studio creating this lookbook to submit to the magazine of all magazines in my eyes for review.

What advice would you give to any women starting their own business?

I would say before starting research everything before you invest your time and money. This industry can be a cruel competitive place so make sure you speak to people already in it, whom you trust, to get honest and good advice.

Your three favourite brands at the moment?

​1. CHLOE. ​Chloe ​is just ​so whimsical and airy with ​a minimalist vibe, what is not to love?!

2. Vince is my go to for comfortable high quality everyday wear and their cuts just suit me so well.

3.Zuhair Murad for the pure elegance of the gowns and amazing structured silhouettes

What is the best thing about Summer fashion?

Being modestly dressed in the summer can be quite difficult with staying cool. That is why I love flowy dresses, chiffon and silk crepe blends, to get me through the heat. I love pairing my frocks with sandals, or just an open kimono with my “you can’t fringe with us” top and jeans; that is my thing too!


If you could only wear one type of shoe this summer what would it be?

W​edges to give me some height, you always need to add height! However, since becoming a mother I find it hard to wear heels anymore!​

How have you been spending your Ramadan nights?

M​y Ramadan Nights have been spent praying and making alot of dua, also relaxing and enjoying my family, taking a bit more time off of work now as things slow down in Dubai quite a bit during Ramadan.

What does your Ramadan wardrobe look like?

M​y Ramadan wardrobe is all things DULCE! I represent my brand as much as I can it is the best form of marketing in my opinion. Also, I am most comfortable in my pieces because I made them specifically with that in mind!​

What are you wearing for Eid?

​I havent yet decided about my Eid OOTD however it will definitely be a good one since Ill be in Istanbul for Eid this year! So I am definitely going to dress up a bit more than I usually would.

Your favourite scent?

I​ LOVE CHLOE scents, almost all of them!

My favorite is a discontinued YSL perfume and when I see it I stock up!

Name three things a lady must always be in possession of?

A​ kimono – or chic cover up like my “ALL THAT GLITTERS IS ROBE”, you can literally throw it over anything and immediately transform the most plain leggings and top into a glam get-up!

A beautiful scarf whether you are a hijabi or not, a lady never knows when she will need one to wrap up, or jazz up a plain top and jeans.


Lastly, a smile. It sounds cliche but I believe women who smile always seem the most attractive, their persona exudes confidence and that takes you more places than any expensive article of jewellery or handbag. Also in Islam it is known as a charity 🙂 so there’s that!

Your designs have been worn and supported by Lindsey Lohan. Tell us how that came about.

I​ was lucky enough to work with her on a shoot here in Dubai, we quickly became friends and we are now working on a entire collection together apart from Dulce I am working on that too!

What is next for Dulce?

D​ulce is now looking to do fashion shows, and more pop ups should my time allow. I want to get out there and express to everyone how passionate I am about my pieces of art. I am now just concentrating on getting more brand awareness and collaborating with like minded individuals who I deem to be authentic and true to themselves. My focus now is getting Dulce to a level where it is within anyone and everyone’s reach!


Shop the collection here
In store: The Fashion Vault Dubai –

Aywa London: The man and the brand

“You’re in the desert with nothing to be seen or heard for miles. The sun is scorching down on you at 50 degrees. You have no AC, no shelter, not anything. All that you have is your walking stick and your black cloak. You drive your stick into the hot sand and you take refuge under that precious piece of cloth”. (Nuna of Nuna Atelier at the 2015 Nude Pop-Up)

The ‘abaya’ is the traditional womenswear of the Middle East and has its roots in the desert, starting out as a bedouin essential. Although modernity has negated its practical use, it’s cultural significance for the Arab woman has never wavered. Londoners and visitors alike will have no doubt noted the presence of the long, black gowns that are somewhat pop-up street-looks of the city’s shopping hubs. A trip to Oxford Street or Bond Street during the summer months sees many of these gracious gowns donned by female visitors to London.


The evolution of the abaya has been a wondrous transition to watch and its current phase seems to favour a new, minimalist style. Variations even lean towards a street-like element; a testament to the versatility of the outwear which once started out as a plain piece of black cloth. In 2017, the modern abaya can be donned with trainers instead of heels, baggy jeans rather than a skinny fit, and turbans in lieu of a draped shayla. This however does not deplete from the more refined way of wearing an abaya, which has long been synonymous with lady-like elegance and modesty. Yet with changing tides and a cross-over of fashions from around the globe, it is evident that the establishment of the urban abaya is here to stay. This new prototype of abaya is most welcome; easily co-maintained beside the traditional refined look.


Waqaas Ahmed, the founder and creative director of Aywa London seeks to re-model the abaya on a London mould. His luxury British brand boasts one off-pieces and unique patterns and cuts, not synonymous with the abaya. His first collection, Love in Tangier, was incredibly eye-catching; an explosion of colours artistically injected into a clothing of which black is the trademark colour. The collection was inspired by the designer’s visit to the northern Moroccan city, Tangier, a place that has long attracted creative souls due to its geographical position encouraging a myriad of international visitors. Aptly nicknamed the gateway to Africa, Tangier is thriving with culture and tradition, vaunting an energetic art scene and a strong heritage of established Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. For Waqaas, this was the perfect place to channel inspiration for his British brand, a country with a strong multicultural heritage.

“Think of the narrow dusty streets in a a canvas of chalky whites and camel golds, contrasted with splashes of colour on the windows and doors. The light sheet of dirt, which can be wiped clean easily, but it’s kind of beautiful to look at and adds to the character. Think of the old man sitting outside his doorstep, just causally watching time go by. And the view of Mediterranean Sea together with the old Medina.”

The Love in Tangier collection had clear Afro-Arab tones, a beautiful marriage of the essence of Moroccan Berber-Arab culture with the Gulf abaya. Dusty whites, yellows and blue prints, flowing abayas, and embroidered jackets were the main features of the collection.


Waqaas’s fashion career at fashion fortes such as Burberry, YSL, Dolce & Gabbani and Gucci have no doubt influenced his lean towards creating high-end fashion. As a man in the modest fashion industry, Waqaas hopes to use his creative insight to create luxury abayas for London living.

“I’m a creative and artistic person so I didn’t want to rely on studying a degree in fashion design. However I wanted to learn how to be able to handcraft garments to a high standard. This led me to enrol in the London College of Fashion to study production tailoring. It was there I discovered the endless opportunities within the fashion industry. I then went on to graduate with a degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising, which allowed me to realise my ability to connect art with the business side of fashion.

After graduating from LCF, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I am a risk-taker so I left home to begin my career in Dubai, where I discovered the luxury abaya! I returned to the UK to then work for leading fashion brands, Burberry, Dolce&Gabbana, YSL and Gucci within different sectors of the business. Whilst working, I started making ‘alternative’ abayas for my sisters and friends, who wore my pieces to weddings and celebratory events. People started asking where these abayas came from and were fascinated that they were made by a man. Aywa had officially began its journey!”

The Hood collection pushed the concept of the abaya even further with its gritty urban twist; think East London meets the UAE. Premiered at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo, guests were given a unique fashion experience as The Hood collection was showcased on the runway featuring snapbacks and backpacks. Another unpredictable styling extravaganza courtesy of Imogen Le Roux.


The Hood lies in refreshing contrast to the collection shown at the First Modest Fashion Week held in Istanbul. Graced by a number of notable fashion figures and covered by local media, the event was the first solid imprint (of its scale) on the international scene, for the modesty movement. Taking the seven continents of the world, Waqas created intricately detailed abayas to reflect and ceebrate the heritages of the various world regions. The result was stunning. It is this type of detail and creative investment that puts Aywa firmly in a league of it’s own.

We sat down with Waqaas over some good old English tea to discuss the pieces he debuted in more detail:

TDM: We love how these are not stereotypical images of the oriental culture, yet they are indigenous enough to be recognised. Talk us through some of the pieces.

WAQAAS: For the African region, the culture is obviously very varied. The one traditional silhouette that stood out for us was the super dropped shoulder, with a long hem. Since the region is heavily non homogeneous in terms of people, we used two tones to represent that. In Africa, you have the full spectrum of skin colours, so we settled upon a lighter tone for the front of the abaya, representing the lighter sands of North Africa, and for the reverse, a darker caramel shade. On the front we went with images of Moroccan architecture, a peek of the pyramids, as well as palm trees innate of the North African deserts. On the reverse, we included a prominent head and shoulders figure of a Masai woman, atop the South African skyline.



For South Asia, the colour mustard immediately springs to mind, the turmeric spice which is now wildly popular in the west, as well as the marigold flower are both vastly popular and common in the region. The silhouette for the abaya is inspired by the khameez; a loose shirt that usually has slits in it. However we opened that up more to make it into a sherwani jacket and added some hand knitted cotton pompoms to the pockets. The rear features a Bangladeshi woman playing the sitar, a Pakistani art track, basil plant, an elephant, and a Kashmiri woman which was avery important nod to the politics of the region.


TDM: There is so much detail in these pieces but visually, it’s not overbearing, or garish. rather everything ties in very well together, like looking at a piece of art.

WAQAAS: This is what we wanted to achieve and creating these pieces was an enjoyable experience.

The current Ramadan collection 2017 favours lightweight materials such as cotton and viscose, easily workable for the get-up and get-go generation that would opt for these designs. With its desert roots and British influence, The new line is a well-crafted blend of modernity and modesty, in true essence of the brand itself. Bright, light, and even a bit cheeky the abayas can be teamed with trendy trainers as much as a pair of red-bottoms. The same eclectic accent remains as is the the theme of the brand, whilst retaining an element of innate luxury. It is this versatility that allows for the abayas to be dressed up or down. One can transition effortlessly from a day-look to evening wear by simply swapping the kicks for heels, adding a red lip and donning a statement accessory; perfect for the 21st century girl on the go.


Over the past 50 years, the abaya has emerged as a strong fashion statement both within and outside of the gulf region and the modest-look is increasingly appearing in more and more high-end designs worldwide. Gucci’s 2017 resort collection had distinct modest elements; high necks, long-sleeves, and mid-length skirts, and the Marchesa Resort 2016 featured exquisite caftans and embellished floor-length dresses. With the modest fashion industry estimated to be worth a cool $96 billion, it is no wonder the fashion elite are clamouring towards a more conservative market with massive spending power.

The success of the Aywa London brand has prompted the launch of the #Aywagirl hashtag, a social media campaign designed to promote the brand as an attitude and lifestyle, not simply another label. Aywa girls are from all different walks of life, brought together by their desire to weave fashionable modernity into a traditional conservatism.


“An Aywa girl brings her personality into her dressing. She understands both fashion and style. She prefers higher necklines and longer hems but may not necessarily want to opt straight for a black abaya. Aywa girls understand quality and appreciate art and design. She can be whatever she wants and she doesn’t conform to the mainstream motto that less is more.”

In many ways, London is a gateway to the world, its status as a global fashion capital is the result of a plethora of cultural influences and innovations inspired by all-corners of the world. From street- fashion to bougie boutiques the city has it all and the launch of the luxury London abaya is an exciting twist in its ever-growing fashion plot.

The Aywa London Ramadan collection will be available for purchase at the Aywa Pop-Up store at Dukes Hotel, London on Saturday 10th June, between 1.30pm and 7.30pm. Email, or call +44 (0) 7582036451 to RSVP.

Ramadan in the city: How to survive those 20+ hour fasts like a boss

With the long hours and humid weather with this year. I quickly realised the only way I could continue to fast successfully whilst maintains my day job in the city would be to eat healthily, like really healthily. The notion of eating to live rather than living to eat has really rung true with me this Ramadan. Not only that, with a demanding job in London city, my brain would have to be as sharp as ever to ensure my performance did not fall short this month. I find it hard enough to get out of bad on a normal day, throwing a really long fast fast into the mix, coupled with some rare hot weather and I was seriously worried about how I would cope. Ramadan is important to me, as is not getting fired so I had to work out a way that I could engage in this holy month and still handle a day job and a business. Cue a Skype session with mama, because that’s how all solutions are solved duh. An hour later I was motivated and armed with my action-plan on how to boss through the month.

The key I (we) found, was planning ahead, and cute colour coded containers that could store my Sunday shop for the week. So that Sunday I stocked up on a load of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and other goodies from @wholefoodsuk and @asnatureintendeduk. The plan was to opt for foods that could get me past the finished line for what is essentially a 21 hour fast. Yes, technically it is a 19 hour fast but realistically, it turns out to be much longer, as it is not possible to stay up much past 12 when you have to be up at 7 am the next day. So the eating window is actually 3.5 hours long on weekdays.

meal 7

Noting this, made me realise that my body would need proper fuel to function, rather than yummy fried stuff that tastes WONDERFUL but will only make fasting hard and unenjoyable. Since my fasting debut at the tender age of 9, I have always loved this month for the physical and spiritual detox that it induces, and if it meant making a few simple changes in order to carry on enjoying this month then I was game!

So what have I been eating this past week? Read on to find out what my Ramadan table looks like.

To break the fast I have one date, followed by a two cups of warm or room temperature cup of water. One with a shot of spirulina powder and one with a shot of fresh Aloe Vera. The health benefits of Spirulina are widely documented and known but in short, Spirulina is algae which receives energy directly from the Sun in a much higher density than other food sources. This makes it the original super food and one of THE most nutritious food sources on the face of the planet. Scientists say it gets to work as soon as you’ve swallowed it and boosts a myriad of body systems, detoxifies impurities and strengthens vital organs. It also reduces fatigue and suppresses those hunger pangs so it is easy to see why I have become best buddies with this green, funny-tasting powder. Aloe vera is also another widely nourishing plant and aids with digestion, because, is it just me or do things get slower during Ramadan?!

meal 1

Maghrib prayer comes next as a) it’s better to pray sooner than later and b) my stomach can’t handle much more than this at this stage anyway.
Now onto my iftar meals which have been looking a lot like the picture above. A dinner-sized plate of fruit and veggies, all with awesome nutrients and cool tricks that will help my body rejuvenate after the day’s fast and prepare for the next. Watermelon (hydrating and good for digestion), sauerkraut (probiotic inducing which leads to a healthy tummy), oranges, (great for energy) avocado (abundant in nutrients, heart healthy, fibrous and filling), cucumbers (hydrating, anti-inflammatory) tomatoes (reduces cholesterol and a great source of antioxidants). I interchange the banana and avocado and tomatoes with other fruit and veg, but the rest are firm staples, particularly the watermelon… mmm watermelon… Not only does this initial ‘meal’ satiate my thirst and hunger significantly, it equips my body with so much goodness that it leaves me feeling energised and revitalised rather than bloated and sluggish.

meal 2

Next it’s the main meal which is a saucer-sized plate of veg and protein (pictured above). I have been favouring broccoli and mackerel as they are the tastiest and super wholesome with a load of health benefits.  I try to go for 1 and a half litres of water minimum and I usually achieve that so I am pretty full by the end of all this. However, if I’m still feeling peckish then a bowl of porridge with oat milk (ew cow’s milk ew), or a bowl of quinoa as pictured will do the trick. Either one can be topped with bananas, berries and nuts for more punch, and I always sprinkle some chia seeds on top for extra protein and fullness.


If it’s a weekday then that’s me done. I won’t get up to eat before Fajr (although it is sunna so if you can, then do it). Instead I get up around 4 am to pray then SPRINT back to bed for those precious few hours of sleep. On my off days however I will have the pre-dawn meal, which consists of a berry, beetroot, and chia shake made using the really handy Breville personal blender. You literally pop your ingredients into the sports bottle which has a whizzy thing at the bottom and kaboom, I’m ready to fast my socks off for the next 20 hours.

meal 6

For more tips on how to stay strong and energised this Ramadan check out these useful links:

I really enjoy following Zehra Allibhai (Zallibha) on Instagram. She stays active and posts quick tips on how to stay healthy during the month.  Check out her blog where you can access a number of recipes and download her free healthy Ramadan guide: 

I’ll be posting more of my Ramadan meals on Instagram so keep an eye out on there and let me know what kind of meals you guys have been eating?

Goats, Astrology and why Kuwaitis are ruling social media. Get in the know with Badr Al Essa (Bo Nabeel)

Six foot something tall and with an even larger smile to match, Badr came striding towards me. His handshake firm and assured to match his demeanour. We met on Oxford Street, one of the most congested areas in the world and yet Badr carried a tangibly calm aura, as though the surrounding rush hour mayhem was nothing but a backdrop. “I know a good place he said, leading the way as I hurried to match his stride.” He was diverting us off Oxford street, towards Mayfair, but not before he had stopped to greet some people that he knew. It’s a familiar fact that our Gulf friends flock to our island during these summer months and it came as no surprise that he bumped into familiar faces. Finally, we reached our destination, an organic cafe that served a fresh food menu in aptly rustic settings. The waitress made her recommendations and Badr concurred on both our behalves.

A leader in every way, it is little wonder how Badr has wielded influence on the way social media personalities themselves became influencers. What started as well-thought advice for family and friends, evolved into a pioneering marketing business. Changing the way we as consumers are introduced to products, Badr was able to guide clients and consumers towards a new buying and selling experience. One that capitalises on the significant impact that social media has in our everyday lives and the more personal relationship that social figures have curated with their followers.

He explained: “Long gone are the days where brands rely on wealthy actresses and musicians solely to sell their products. Consumers are now more responsive to what their e-friends are buying.”

Despite the obvious detachment of a virtual connection, being invited to enter a person’s life, albeit through a screen has a way of confirming a bond of some sort between a person and their followers. Online figures share varying degrees of their daily happenings, and many share intimate moments such as marriages and pregnancies, deaths and breakups, diets and friend drama, relocation, promotions and good news. All of this “giving” of oneself instills in their audience a subconscious sense that they KNOW this person. That they are more of a friend than a well-known and well paid social figure. This is a person who shares their hopes, fears and dreams with you, and one can’t help but feel some sort of attachment. We follow like minded individuals or those who we aspire to be like. This coupled with the subconscious trust that we have affixed to a social figure, are the main ingredients that have created the zeitgeist of social media influencers that we now see. Brands quickly noticed this social media climate and began sending their products to the popular boys and girls of the internet. Being whisked off to exotic locations for photo shoots and private viewings in a bid to tap into the selling potential of these individuals. Who is buying into this I hear you ask… Well, everyone. Ok maybe not everyone everyone but if the number of followers are anything to go by then it’s safe to say, millions!

We discussed more in our interview with Badr:

BADR: Firstly, I want to say thank you for approaching me and insisting to do the interview; it shows determination, it shows someone who knows what they want, it shows that you are go-getters!

TDM: That means a lot coming from you, thank you! So can we ask, what is your star sign?

BADR: Star-signs are the biggest scam on earth!

TDM: *sharp intake of breath*

BADR: Ok do you believe that humans are creative?

TDM: Yes.

BADR: How about the God that created them, is He more or less creative?

TDM: More of course.

BADR: Nzein, so do you believe a creative God would create 12 personalities and repeat that?!

TDM: It goes much deeper than that though, you have your moon sign, your earth sign, your venus sign…

BADR: Look, let me tell you this. If God created each one of us with a different finger-print then definitely our personalities are more unique. Some people say, but it’s so accurate, it fits me! Habibi, if I keep telling you from the age of five that you are kind, you are kind, you are kind, you are kind, but you get angry quickly, guess what; that is exactly the kind of behaviour that you are going to display!

So those people that believe in star signs I tell them to free themselves from this outside control. You can be whatever you want to be.

TDM: I like the term ‘creative god’. Speaking of creativity, you ooze bundles of it! How did you come up with the Richter concept?

BADR: 7 years ago I started working in a dental clinic which wasn’t heard of at that time. Most US-educated graduates were working in banks and investment companies since that was seen as a path that would yield the best future for someone of that ilk. It was seen as a little bit weird quite frankly.

The company was my brother’s ‘Asnan towers’, and I stayed because I believed in him. I handled the marketing and PR for five years and together we grew Asnan from a small clinic to the biggest dental centre in the Middle East. Of course there many other contributing factors, but alhamdlillah we did manage to do a great job on the marketing and PR front. At the end of the fifth year I started getting calls from different people, friends, family members, acquaintances. They would say to me, Badr, look, I have a product what should I do, how should I put this out there? I started giving advice over the phone for free, And then it occurred to me; if there is that much demand, why not start a company.

So we did! And Richter was born.

On meeting the first client, we discovered that traditional marketing is not the solution for success. It is simply one facet of success, and there are many other angles that need to be considered for a product to be a hit. The biggest contributing factor of the success is the quality of the service or product. If we order avocado on toast with a salad, and the food is amazing. What do you think would happen after our experience?

TDM : Obviously we would spread the word, tell people how great it was.

BADR: And we would definitely come back again right.

TDM: Right!

BADR: If we had a terrible experience then what would we do?

TDM: Warn people away.

BADR: Exactly. I would likely get my snapchat out and say guys don’t come here this place is awful!

So in today’s world, no matter how great your marketing is, you can’t account for the personal accounts of people. Now, with social media, everyone has a huge amount of influence over their followers. Whether you only have 50, or 100 followers, these people grow to trust you because they see you every day. They see you living your daily life, and you don’t have any reason to advertise. So they are highly likely to take your advice seriously.

So taking this idea, the aim is to create positive feedback using social media around a product or service.The first step would be to make sure your product or service is excellent. THEN you start marketing.
With this in mind, we set out managing this ‘marketing’ approach for our clients. We wanted to orchestrate the experience that people had with a product or service. Make it interesting for people to snap. We create what we call ‘triggers’. So for instance, the place we are in now. It’s organic right. How would I market it?

I would set up a corner with a lot of seeds, and then maybe a guy would perform a short demonstration with those seeds. And then maybe a guy would bring them to your table and let you taste them. So you would get your phone out and record your experience.

Or “I would bring a goat in the corner and have it cordoned off safely.
The marketing ploy would be something along the lines of ‘come see our amazing place, great food, and organic milkshakes made with goats milk from our onsite goats! This would get people talking, and you can imagine the rhetoric; ‘ooh there’s a restaurant in London that has living goats!’


TDM: So that would be the trigger…

BADR: Yes and people would come to take pictures of this unique feature but they would return for the quality of the food. If you went to a farm, with one thousand cows, but there was one purple cow, what would grab your attention?

TDM: The purple one no doubt.

BADR: Would you go to it, try to taste it’s milk rather than the milk of the other cows.

TDM: Yes, potentially. Perhaps we’d be a little nervous!

BADR: Yes, it’s worth talking about. You need to be the business worth talking about, you need to be that purple cow. We discovered that technique and we sell that to our clients.

TDM: Your strategy seems heavily dependent on social media, and it’s clear that it works. We noticed that Kuwaitis seem to dominate this field compared to other Gulf countries. In your opinion, what is it about the social structure in Kuwait that has allowed so many individuals to rise to international fame via social media?

BADR: Kuwaitis, from centuries ago are highly sociable as a people and we are always out and about, being proactive, setting trends. We talk to each other and it is a social stamina that started with MSN, then MySpace and has continued up until the Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat era. There is a climate of social competition and we love to show others our latest achievements. Also, the community is very small so it’s easy for us to compare with others and aim to go that one step extra. Our people have content. We are travellers, actors, designers, artists etc so we are actively contributing to society in a way that interests people. We are the London of the Gulf!

TDM: The cool guys..

BADR: Well each country has its cool side but we are the most metropolitan in terms of an authentic population as well as modernity.

TDM: And what do you think of the development of the social media society?

BADR: Put simply, this is only the beginning.

TDM: With something so relevant to everyday life on such a grand scale, there are bound to be negative impacts. What social changes do you think social media has brought?

BADR: It has made us more introverted. We are less willing to indulge in human interaction because there is so much emphasis on digital engagement.

TDM: Speaking of the downfalls of the digital, could you tell us a little bit about the health retreat that you just attended.

BADR: Like a muscle the mind needs to be trained, it needs to think, it needs to analyse, to remember, to reflect, to fantasise, imagine. But firstly, to be able to do all of that, you need to be able to control your thoughts. If I had no control over my legs and they were able to just lead me anywhere without my say so, it would be chaotic. I would end up in places and situations that I have no control over which could be potentially life threatening. Yet we neglect our minds and allow it to have complete control over us instead of the other way around. We fail to realise that our mind having control over us is effectively the same as being at the mercy of a puppet master.

In order to structure and lead a meaningful life, we need to control our mind and the thoughts that populate it so that we can control where we are heading in life.

Only once you are aware of it can you then start to change your perspective. For example, how many times do you find yourself in a place, but your mind is totally elsewhere. Essentially, you are not in that place but you are wherever your mind is. Start of by practicing mindfulness, and being present in the moment. It will train your mind. Controlling your thoughts and being able to focus on the here and now are the keys to being able to achieving serenity and happiness. When you train your mind to focus on one thing and one moment you are strengthening that muscle, so later on when you need that muscle to create something brilliant, your mind will be able to perform brilliantly and come up with the ideas and details that you didn’t even conceive in the beginning. You will have a greater depth of understanding of your project or task that you wouldn’t have otherwise foreseen. If you are not focused however, and your thought process is weak, you will start a task without being able to see what is even needed for the initial steps.

That’s what the retreat was all about, learning how to train the muscle of the mind.


TDM: Amazing. We started learning about the power of the mind a year ago and it has been incredible to see the benefits of such teachings in our daily life. How long have you been exposed to this ideology?

BADR: Well, luckily I was born into a family where us brothers competed on being more knowledgeable and we pushed each other and shared with each other different ideas that would help us succeed.

Yusuf my younger brother discovered a website that talks about these teachings and he got me into it. Honestly, I’m new to this whole thing but I have been practicing meditation for a month now and this was my first retreat.

TDM: Ok, and has the idea of training your mind been beneficial to you in your business?

BADR: To be honest, I have always lived in the moment so it was something that I was already practicing unknowingly anyway. Lately however, with the business requiring me to do so much and be here there and everywhere, I lost focus slightly and I felt like I needed to realign myself – this retreat was my realignment.

TDM: Glad to hear it! We enjoy your TED talks commentary that you conduct via snapchat – which one has been your favourite one so far?

BADR: ‘Schools kill creativity’

TDM: This is an increasingly popular theme at the moment. Tell us more.

BADR: Ok, so you bring an elephant, a giraffe, and a monkey into the room where they each have a tree. You tell them, it’s a race so the first one to reach the top is the best. That’s basically what school is.

I’m not saying scrap all schools, I’m saying let’s find a new system. A system where the elephant will be pushing something, the giraffe would be picking something from a height and the monkey would be climbing the tree. So we wouldn’t just have blanket tests where only some students wold naturally excel.

TDM: It’s true. I feel our current schools system is based heavily on the ability to memorise rather than apply knowledge. The UK is currently undergoing some changes within the education system.

BADR: You know what the problem is… We all complain. Americans complain they aren’t happy with the tram. France complains that they aren’t happy with the taxes and their crazy president.

If we want to advance as a race we need to be part of the solution rather than complaining that there is a problem.

TDM: What advice would you give to young people who see their environment as not the best and they want to do something positive with their life but they feel hindered.

BADR: There is no optimum environment. If a place is worthy of being in then it is worthy of you making a positive change in it. Instead of complaining about the dark, be happy about the candle, or the lamp. Make the most of it or move to a place where you feel your energy is best directed. Wherever you go you are obliged to make that place better by your presence so it’s simply a matter of choice. If you have no choice about leaving that environment then you MUST be a part of the solution not an added voice of complaint.

To stay in a place that you hate without doing anything means you are either too scared to do anything, which is a problem. Or you are simply a talker which is an even bigger problem.

TDM: Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk!

I feel like we’ve touched on some really meaningful topics here, so finally, a nice cliche’d question to round this interview off.. where do you see yourself in five years?

BADR: I see that we succeeded to make Kuwait a more interesting place. I see that Richter has helped more than 100 clients to become user friendly.

My team will be made up of 50-70 bright, creative individuals under one roof. All from different backgrounds and religions.

I can see myself constructing my own entertainment city. I want to compete with Disney.

I see my country developing and I see my people happier, and I see tourists coming to Kuwait, and it being a hub.

TDM: When you say that you are really lighting up.

BADR: Laughs heartily. Because I believe in my country, I believe in Kuwaitis. We have done so much already and we can do so much more!

We just need oil not to finish in the next 10-15 years and we need peace, and for Iraq not to invade us!

Connect with Badr on his Instagram and Snapchat ‘Bonabeel’


DISCLAIMER: This interview was conducted exactly one year and one month ago. To read why it was postponed for so long check out our previous post: The Creative’s Curse