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Ten ways to make a mark

From academics to athletics, Pakistan is brimming with youthful talent that is beginning to change its creative landscape

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    Shemir ShaikhImage Credit: Supplied
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    Ammar MirzaImage Credit: Supplied
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    Ahsan SaeedImage Credit: Supplied
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    Adil SiddiqImage Credit: Supplied
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    Usman RiazImage Credit: Supplied

The Diplomat

Mobisher Rabbani

Mobisher Rabbani is a Dubai-based diplomatic consultant who takes great efforts to promote Pakistan’s art, culture, tourism and Pakistani youth through quiet diplomacy and volunteerism.

He is the founder of The Rabbani Foundation, a philanthropic organisation dedicated to humanity, which has successfully carried out projects in Sri Lanka, Palestine, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Having previously worked with education activist Malala Yousafzai and monitored the 2008 Pakistan general elections as an observer, he currently advises United Nations agencies and numerous non-governmental organisations.

"It all started during the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, the desire to help fellow Pakistanis in need has kept me going ever since. I share my experiences and motivation by regularly giving lectures at various international forums, think tanks and academic institutions," Rabbani tells GN Focus.

He is also the author of the upcoming book Travelling on a Pakistani Passport.

The Humanitarian

Adil Siddiq

Karachi-based businessman Adil Siddiq is a man of many parts. He is associated with the seafood industry, but is also a musician, poet, writer, humanitarian and an activist.

A lyricist and songwriter, Siddiq chooses to express life through music and poetry. He believes music can heal people in different ways. He has been pursuing his passion for music for almost a decade now with plans to make a debut very soon.

"I am also a social media activist and have been involved in several welfare projects, reaching out to the poor. I formed a team that actively worked during the catastrophic earthquakes and recent floods in Pakistan," says Siddiq. "I plan to represent Pakistan globally through my business and activities, by introducing Pakistani seafood products all over the world and helping people understand our culture by writing about love, motivation and our society."

The Animator

Waqas Abdul Majeed

Waqas Abdul Majeed is a young animation professional and the director and producer of Luke’s Escape an animated short film. Majeed graduated with a Bachelors of Interactive Animation from SAE Institute Dubai and now works with a team of artists from the Middle East and South Asia.

"I have lived in Dubai all my life. In 2010, I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Animation and since then have worked on a couple of very exciting projects. I’m eager to witness our local animation scene grow and in my efforts have created one of my own projects, a short animated film named Luke’s Escape —the first work of its kind from this region," says Majeed.

Majeed works as a 2D animator in a reputed firm by day and a producer and director of his film by night together with 19 like-minded artists from 12 different countries.

"This is the most unique part about the project, none of us have actually met each other and yet we have been able to launch a teaser video. We will also be sending Luke’s Escape to different festivals all around the world including Cannes Short and Dubai Film Festival," Majeed tells GN Focus.

The Developer

Ammar Mirza

Ammar Mirza currently works in the health and beauty sector in Dubai, with a list of very well known brands. Together with his business partner Archit Hari, Mirza founded FabUp, an application development company and launched the company’s first iOS application FabUp into the market.

"FabUp is a social commerce tool that connects brands and customers. We help promote brands and create a community for those interested in beauty, fashion and makeup," Mirza tells GN Focus.

The duo also won a place among the elite at the Web Summit in Dublin this October. That means rubbing shoulders with executives from numerous technology companies such as Facebook and Microsoft and meeting with investors as well.

The Karate Kid

Saadi Abbas Jalbani

I am a professional karate athlete at the Al Ahli Club in Dubai. I first started karate to keep in shape and purely as a physical pastime, after that I started loving it and began to achieve success. This has never been done by any Pakistani in the entire South Asian region so I decided to adopt the sport as a profession instead of a pastime," says Saadi Abbas Jalbani.

Asian Champion, Commonwealth Champion, Arab Clubs Champion, and a South Asian Champion, Jabbani is the only professional player from South Asia to win a gold medal in Asia and the only Pakistani player to land a gold medal in the Commonwealth championship.

Not only has he accumulated a wide range of titles, trophies and medals, Jalbani is also a rising social media star with almost a 1,000 fans on his official Facebook page.

The Entrepreneur

Shemir Shaikh

Shehmir has recently returned from the New York University with a degree in economics and now looks after Kairos Society Middle East, that includes six countries in the region. Armed with a degree in economics and a will to start his own business, Shaikh is currently exploring cross border opportunities in the energy efficiency industry.

The Kairos Society works closely with the White House as well as the United Nations and many global forums to fuel entrepreneurship at home and abroad. The Society has over 700 young entrepreneurs who have launched successful companies across a range of sectors.

The Teacher

Zara Mahmood

Zara Mahmood is a Pakistani artist based in Dubai whose work encompasses printmaking, painting and drawing. Mahmood was a recipient of the Sheikha Manal’s Young Artist Award in 2011 and her recent exhibitions include the Sikka Art Fair (Dubai, 2013), Contemporary Art from Pakistan (Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, Dubai, 2013) and Beirut Art Fair (Lebanon, 2012). She is currently working as an Adjunct Professor of Visual Communication at the American University in Dubai (AUD).

"I have been passionate about art from a very young age. Art was a recurring subject throughout school and I eventually pursued it as an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Fine Art from National College of Arts, Pakistan and University for the Creative Arts, UK respectively," says Mahmood.

"In a broader sense, the theme of my works stems from personal experiences. It is an exploration of developing a language that tackles the subject matter with covert insinuations towards the human form. My job as a professor at AUD serves as a great platform to share and nourish artistic values in fresh young minds at a communal
level," she adds.

The Painter

Maryam Adeel

Maryam Adeel is a Dubai-based artist and has been working in the UAE for the past four years after completing her Masters in Fine Art from Punjab University College of Art and Design, Lahore.

Her work has been displayed in over 15 different exhibitions in Pakistan, the UAE and UK, and she was shortlisted for the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award in 2011. "I like to experiment with various mediums in my paintings, but mostly I like to work with oil paints, as I feel I can express myself better. My subject matter is ‘The emotional complexities of a human mind’. I paint what I feel," says Adeel.

"Like a writer, I like to write stories with my brush and colours, in the language of my own imagination," she adds.

The Moderator

Ahsan Saeed

Ahsan Saeed is the founder of Twittistaan, a portal that covers Pakistan and Pakistanis on Twitter and is the Twitter Urdu Localisation Moderator in Pakistan. Together with working for Twitter as a moderator in the country, Saeed also works at a digital media agency.

"I run the Twittistaan blog and have also volunteered for Whatsapp Urdu and Global Voices Urdu as a translator. What I do involves a lot of understanding of the digital world. Primarily the work of Twitter moderator lies in the localisation and translation of Twitter. It is my passion to promote Urdu as a language," he adds.

And it does not stop there; Saeed soon plans to launch a Radio Show about this digital world in Pakistan as well.

The Musician

Usman Riaz

Usman Riaz comes from a family inclined towards the arts. He began playing classical piano at the age of six and then taught himself to play a variety of instruments by using the internet as a learning tool.

"It all started with the guitar at the age of 16 and then progressed to other things. I am a composer, a visual artist and a filmmaker. I like telling stories and these mediums allow me to express my creativity in the best way possible," says Riaz.

After his selection as a Ted Fellow and his performance at Ted Global 2012 with musician Preston Reed, who’s known for creating the percussive guitar style, Riaz travelled all over the world sharing his artwork and music with audiences to emphasise how they can use multimedia to further their talents.

"To me music, film and art are tools like brushes and colours are to a painter. Only after using all of them can he create a painting. It is the same case with me. These tools allow me to express my creativity, I love making things. It is an amazing feeling when I can bring the orchestra piece I hear in my head to life," says Riaz.