On Fridays, I wake up at 6.30am – not a choice when you have a toddler and a baby! We then head out around 8.30am for our weekly community routine, which involves soaking in the greenery and some vitamin D at the nearby playground, having breakfast in one of the coffee shops and then fulfilling Yara, my two-and-half year old daughter’s demand to end the trip with a stop at Spinneys.
I am originally Palestinian and moved to Dubai from Germany in 1991 when I was eight with my two siblings and parents who still all reside here. My father, a consultant paediatrician and nephrologist, got a post as head of Dubai Hospital’s paediatric nephrology unit at that time. Ever since, Dubai has been not only home but a homeland.
INSPIRED TO EMPOWER
Working in Procter and Gamble as a logistics planner for three years made me realise my heart wasn’t in the corporate world. The idea for Palestyle was conceived when I visited Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut for the first time in 2009. I saw 180,000 refugees crammed into a 1sq km of land. Most of them were of young and educated but had to deal with poverty due to a lack of job opportunities and inadequate infrastructure. At the camp, I met a group of brave women who spent their time embroidering despite those harsh conditions. Their desire to support to their families inspired me to launch Palestyle as a social fashion brand.
MESSAGE ON A BAG
Through Palestyle’s leather handbags featuring handmade embroidery and Arabic calligraphy we empower refugee women with embroidery jobs and a percentage of our sales are invested in social development projects. It makes me proud that celebrities like Eva Longoria sport our products that promote the beauty of Arabic heritage, identity and culture.
GIVING BACK IS GOOD
I think everyone has a responsibility to giving back to society and how they do it is an individual choice. Before Palestyle I was involved in organizing and running summer camps for refugee children, which gave me the opportunity to work with UNRWA, child psychologists and social workers in the field - it was a rewarding experience to be grateful for.
BOOKS CHANGE LIVES
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho changed my life. I read it at a time where I needed an inspirational push to pursue my dreams and realize that the treasure can be right under you. It was a book that encouraged me to resign from my corporate career and pursue my social business. Recently when we opened the Community Children’s Library for Syrian Refugee Children in Al Mafraq Camp in Jordan one children asked ‘is that library mine?’ That innocent question had a powerful impact on me - it was a reminder of all the basic pleasure we take for granted, like reading.
BE AT SEA
I love travelling. A trip we took to Salzburg has been one of my most cherished memories. My dream vacation is A Semester At Sea; it is a unique academic campus on a shipboard that lets you tour the world for 105 days as the ship stops at various countries around the world with the opportunity to choose from 20-25 academic courses that are relevant to the journey. I plan to sign up for it when my daughters are older.
PEANUT BUTTER UP
I can snack on peanut butter for the rest of my life any time of the day. It fulfils my sweet tooth without making me feel too guilty. It has accompanied me in my good and bad times always making me feel fulfilled and happy. I am a very disciplined eater, yet when I’m travelling or at an open buffet I will eat more than anyone else at the table – for me, vacation mode means enjoying my meals.
The scent of Chanel Noire perfume is one I associate with happiness. It is a gift from my brother and whenever I put it on, I get lots of compliments.
LAST TIME I LAUGHED OUT LOUD
We recently had a family reunion with the entire extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles. As a fun activity we chose to debate on a topic and split the family into two teams, with me playing the role of moderator. The whole game quickly turned into a big joke making every single one of us laugh our hearts out.
DINE WITH ME
If I could invite five people to a dream dinner it would be my uncle and his family whom we lost last year in the Egypt Air plane crash and Dr Abdul Rahman Al Sumait, my idol when it comes to social and aid work. He and his family dedicated their lives for aid work in