From left: Alia Al Mazrouei, Furne One, Ali F. Mostafa, Juliana Down, Greg Stainer. Image Credit: XPRESS and Supplied

The reel pioneer Ali F. Mostafa


Having won Best Emirati Filmmaker at the 4th Dubai International Film Festival and 2010's Young Filmmaker of the Year at the Digital Studio, and the hit film City Of Life under his belt, Ali F. Mostafa is a filmmaker to watch out for. Despite being praised for his achievement in the world of filmmaking, Mostafa tells XPRESS, "Thank you, but I don't consider myself to be the top filmmaker. I just try to keep pushing myself and the knowledge of my medium as much as I can. There are so many talented filmmakers from the UAE."

Following the success of City of Life, there is little doubt that Mostafa is amongst the cream of filmmakers he speaks of. "I am currently developing two films and in between creating television commercials, corporate videos a documentary and a chunk of online content.

"I had always hoped that I would be recognised for my work in film and appreciated. What I didn't expect is to have endorsements deals from top brands this soon. I've learnt an important lesson: Never let anyone tell you something is impossible. If you believe in it strong enough, it will happen."

Kings of UAE Rock Juliana Down

Music band

This multi-national rock band of Dubai-based expats is one of the first international acts to come out of the region, and is currently on the verge of a global breakthrough. Lead singer Dia says that the journey of the band reflects his personal journey. "It all started back in high-school and took us on a trip we only used to dream about. It almost feels unreal sometimes when we travel to new countries, where we are more than delighted to have the opportunity to represent the music scene in the Middle East to an international audience."

Having played with the likes of Guns N' Roses, Muse, Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake, this homegrown band is no stranger to the world of international celebritydom. "There is nothing like landing into a country that you have not been to before and have hundreds of people waiting to hear the songs we wrote here in Dubai - played on a stage live."

Fast food revolution

Alia Al Mazrouei, Co-founder, Just Falafel

Born in 1980 and raised in a business-oriented family, Alia Al Mazrouei was given the freedom to choose her career. Today, she's delighted to say that she's a working mother and a business owner who would love to pursue her passion of helping and inspiring others.

When the fast food restaurant Just Falafel first started in Abu Dhabi in 2007, Alia had no expectations at the outset. "Mohammad Bitar, Reema Shetty and I just wanted to offer falafel as an alternative meal, adapting it to a 21st century lifestyle as have all other food chains adapted their menus."

However, perhaps even more unbelievable is their rate of growth, (from two stores in 2007 to 30 planned by the end of 2012, as well as franchises across a dozen countries), is the fact that is was largely social media that helped them build the extensive brand equity. "It's primarily thanks to Facebook where we now have 400,000 fans!"

For the future, Alia's plans "are to go global and aspire to innovate across everything that we do along the way. Our challenge now is to build an operational infrastructure with an objective to start opening a store a day at some point in the medium term".

Celebs' haute choice

Furne One, Fashion Designer

It was a decade ago with stars in his eyes that Dubai-based Filipino expat launched his fashion line, Amato Couture. Five years later, the designer had been chosen by supermodel Heidi Klum to design the evening gowns that would be worn by the finalists of her hit television show Germany's Next Top Model.

Nothing could stop this star from rising. "Last year I designed Jennifer Lopez' outfit for the Summertime Ball in London; Shakira's outfits for the 40 Principales Awards, The Latin Grammy Awards, the NJR Music Awards and the FIFA Gala Awards (pictured)," says One, "as well as, of course, Katy Perry's outfits for various events from the MTV Music Awards and the American Music Awards, as well as her entire look for the GHD ad and TV campaign, as well as all her outfits for her 2011 California Dreams world tour."

Despite his international fame and success, the designer is still attached to his base in Dubai. "In my heart, I still think of myself as a Dubai-based designer, but one who wants to be globally and internationally known."

The spin masterGreg Stainer, DJ

From humble beginning as the DJ in a local nightclub in 2002, Greg Stainer has gone on to become a full-blown local celebrity. His first full length 2009 solo album, 6mil 2headphones, peaked at No 7 in the Virgin Megastore album charts as the first CD to feature Dubai-based house music. The following year, Stainer created his own record label, Stained Music. Heralded as one of the pioneers of the house music scene in the UAE, the DJ's legendary sets have been played in over 30 cities and across four continents including New York City, London, Ibiza, India, South Africa, Sweden, Ireland, China, Singapore and of course, home ground, Dubai.

"When I started out DJing in my bedroom, like most DJs, I always dreamed of performing in front of a big audience. I am blessed that my dream has become a reality. This year, I am really focusing on my music productions and my record label. It takes a lot of work to get a record company established. Of course, I'll continue to DJ in addition to my Dubai residencies at Zinc and Radio 1."

Support for Greg's productions and remixes comes from some of the most influential names in the business, including Roger Sanchez, Mark Knight, Karl Wolf, Groove Armada, and many more.