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Emiratis pushing the fashion agenda in the UAE

This National Day, tabloid! introduces you to four leading style lights fashioning a grassroots fashion movement in the Emirates

  • Sarah Belhasa at Studio 8, the boutique she founded in Jumeirah, Dubai.Image Credit: Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News
  • Omar Bin Khediya, the man behind fashion store O ConceptImage Credit: O Concept
  • Models wear items from online fashion concept store Bullets & ButterfliesImage Credit: Bullets & Buterflies
  • The S*uce store in The Dubai Mall, founded by Fatima Mazroui-GhobashImage Credit: S*uce

There’s no denying the UAE is already a fashion hotspot. From luxury heritage European brands to American high street labels and everything in between, we’ve got them all.

But now, with the World Expo 2020 firmly in our grasp, and massive projects such as the Dh4 billion Dubai Design District already under construction, a rising number of Emirati entrepreneurs are pushing the fashion agenda in the country. And they’re not only surviving but flourishing in a market still very obsessed with brands and labels. This National Day, tabloid! introduces you to four leading lights who are slowly building and nourishing a grassroots fashion movement and making a change as they fly the Emirati flag.

Who: Fatima Mazroui-Ghobash, 34

What: Founder of multibrand concept store S*uce

Started in: 2004

Q: Why did you decide to open S*uce?

A: I have always been very interested in fashion and design. While travelling I would always find beautiful, distinctive and upcoming labels that I wished to bring to Dubai. I had a vision of a boutique that would carry all those up and coming labels, a denim bar and fun stuff. Not long after the idea was brewing in my head that I met my business partner Zayan Ghandour at a dinner in Dubai. Zayan back then had her own line of ‘one-off’ t-shirts that I was buying in bulk because I was in love with every piece... not knowing that I would meet ‘the designer’ who would then become my business partner. S*uce was born a few months later.

Q: How has S*uce done so far?

A: When we first opened S*uce, the very idea of a multibrand concept store was new in Dubai. So what started out as a small, somewhat secret location in Jumeirah has grown into an award–winning concept – what many have labelled the benchmark for multibrand retail in the region.

Q: Where to from here?

A: S*uce on-Sea is our new concept, due to open end of January at The Beach in Jumeirah Beach Residence, and we are currently developing two other totally unique concepts! So #watchthisspace

Q: What does being an Emirati mean to you?

A: For me being an Emirati means having the privilege of an amazing set of leaders who have always encouraged us to strive for the best, to educate ourselves, to build our country and to be proud of the outstanding achievements of all Emiratis together.

*S*uce is located at The Village Mall and The Dubai mall in Dubai, Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. S*uce gifts is in Al Wasl Square, S*uce in the Hood in Citywalk Mall and S*uce Outlet in Dubai Outlet Mall. Go to

Who: Alia Bin Kherbash

What: Founder of online concept store Bullets & Butterflies

Started in: 2010

Q: Why did you decide to open Bullets & Butterflies?

A: I am passionate about fashion, style and art and have always had aN interest and curiosity in the pieces that were different and one of a kind. That is what Bullets & Butterflies strives to provide for not only the Middle East but to international audiences.

Q: What sets Bullets & Butterflies apart?

A: Bullets & Butterflies works around the philosophy of transforming a normal shopping experience to a globally accessible ‘fashion heaven’. Each season our buyers seal deals with new key designers around the world and bring back pieces that make up dream wardrobes. We are also offering an opportunity to brands that might not get the same exposure as more established ones, giving our customers the chance to see something unique and less commercial. In addition, we offer a ‘By Appointment’ customised styling tips service to our members.

Q: How would you say you’ve done so far?

A: We previously opened as physical store and made the strategic move online recently. As we have just launched, we are still at the beginning phases, however we have seen a great response with pre orders that have been coming in before the website was even up. This re-enforces to me that not only the UAE but our Middle Eastern clientele have the same hunger for contemporary fashion and design as I do.

Q: What does being an Emirati means to you?

A: Being an Emirati today and living in the UAE, I am constantly inspired by what potential we possess and are able to offer. To see the growth and development in what was once such a small city is truly special and leaves us all with a desire to leave our mark in any way we can. To me fashion is what I love, and I found my way to share that. I hope that everyone is able to find their passion and explore their own way of expressing it.

*Go to

Who: Sarah Saif Belhasa

What: Founder of Studio 8 boutique

Started in: 2009

Q: How did your story begin?

A: I always had a love for fashion and I enjoyed reading about the latest trends in the fashion industry. I transformed my passion into my profession and opened my first designer boutique under [Indian designer] Manish Malhotra in Dubai on Jumeirah Beach Road, followed by another one in Souk Al Bahar in 2008. In April 2009, I rebranded the Manish Malhotra store into a multi designer boutique and named it Studio 8. Thereafter, there was no looking back. I was always looking out for opportunities to expand my fashion business and that’s how I opened The Dubai Mall store in this year.

Q: What sets Studio 8 apart?

A: I have handpicked designers from the region and Indian subcontinent to cater to a wide range of clientele addressing various fashion tastes. In a burgeoning market such as ours I look to showcase a beautiful blend of Indian, Pakistani, Emirati and International designs in the store. We have an eclectic mix of designers from different parts of the world. We understand the fashion sense and taste of different nationalities and try and match up to their expectations through our diverse collection. We also provide a platform for aspiring and talented Arab and Asian designers.

Q: What are your future plans for Studio 8?

A: We will definitely be launching more designers and new collections in the store. We also have many fashion shows and events in the pipeline.

Q: What does being an Emirati means to you?

A: Being an Emirati to me means to preserve our culture and to inculcate the right values in our future generation. It also means while you are respecting your own culture and traditions you must respect the values and ethics of other cultures too.

* Studio 8 is located on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai and in The Dubai Mall. Go to

Who: Omar Bin Khediya, 41

What: Founder of multi-brand store O Concept

Started in: 2009

Q: What really is O Concept?

A: It’s a multi-branded fashion, art, lifestyle boutique and café (O Café) that caters to both men and women’s fashion. The outlet encourages local designers and talents thus we stock both local and international designers at the store. We are also a destination for accessories, shoes and outfits for stylish fashionistas.

Q: How would you say O Concept has done so far?

A: O Concept Store is a growing fashion destination. We have a loyal and growing customer base and the designer list is generating a lot of buzz in the fashion circuit and this is a truly one-stop fashion location for men and women. It’s definitely a place to be seen in.

Q: And your future plans?

A: I have been approached to open in stores in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and even as far afield as France. I consider O Concept to be my baby and at this stage I feel it is too early to expand. I prefer to keep it in one location to maintain the magic and to keep it special.

Q: What does being an Emirati mean to you?

A: I am very proud to be an Emirati, our sense of nationality is unique and strong. The Emirati culture is very beautiful and special, how we spend our Ramadan and how we celebrate our Eids, our lifestyle, food, arts, music it’s all very peaceful and tolerant. This young nation has achieved so much in the last 42 years and the recent win of Expo 2020 is a testimony of a nation with a vision and one that strives to be key player in the international circuit.

*O Concept is located in Jumeirah Beach Apartments, Jumeirah 1, Al Hubaida Road, Dubai. Go to