Hala Fatafta/Palestinian expatriate

The impossible mission to keep her one-bedroom house clean and tidy pushed Hala Fatafta, mother of two to embrace the concept of minimalism.

The Dubai resident, who is from Palestine, said she often searched online for creative storage ideas to help her maintain a tidy house, and was ecstatic when she found a book that gave her a new perspective.

“It was Mary Kondo’s Life changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book talked about living with minimal amount of things and only keeping belongings that sparked joy. This was the start for me.”

The working mother continued to find more books on living simple, and followed You Tubers who embraced minimalism for inspiration.

“I joined the Facebook group ‘Minimalism UAE Minimalist Lifestyle’ because I was looking for a community who shares the same interests as me [in the UAE]. All the famous minimalists are based in different countries,” explained Fatafta.

She is working on reducing her consumption by choosing to buy what she needs as opposed to what she wants. “When it comes to levels of consumption, I think you can easily reduce buying clothes and styling products if you go according to what you need and not what you desire,” she said.

Fatafta said she often finds it more challenging to explain to her children the difference between buying things they need instead of things they wish to have.

“One example is how it took me time to get used to audio books instead of hard copies - as my hobby is to read. I still visit the library, and I have to fight my urge to buy books - especially inspirational ones on parenting or life style.”

With reducing consumption being only a part of the minimalism formula, Fatafta pointed out that valuing the space you have instead of the materialistic things you own and the amount of money you have, is what gives a person joy and peace.

“We should focus on time with family and loved ones. Experience and good times are not about how much we have or what we own. I feel freer living the simple life I have and applying my own rules.”


Anitha Murali/Indian expatriate

For working mum Anitha Murali, 39, who is Sharjah-based, You Tube videos were her first insight into art of decluttering. “I was listening to Marie Kondos’ book on Decluttering - the Konmari Method, and that sparked my interest in the idea of minimalism,” said Murali.

While in the habit of decluttering the house every now and then, Murali was not able to maintain a clutter-free house. She constantly drew inspiration from You Tubers on decluttering before arriving at the concept of minimalism. After watching a documentary on minimalism by [US minimalists] Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus, Murali was so inspired, she practically started on becoming a minimalist at home.

“I consider myself a minimalist, I am already seeing that I am so conscious while buying any item. Also, every purchase is respected - which means, I totally value what I buy and use it to the best. I also see that I do not throw away usable things any more, but I would rather ‘freecycle’ them. I have started a group called Freecycle Sharjah, which is a market place except that it is all for free.”

Murali said the belongings she found easiest to declutter were decorations, cleaning agents, books, toys and electronics, whereas she found it challenging to reduce the number of saris and jewelry she owned.

“Minimalism is all about letting go of things that you don’t need, and keeping things that sparks joy and are an essential hobby to a person.”

Referring to ‘Minimalism UAE minimalist lifestyle’ group on Facebook, Murali said she was happy to find a group in Dubai that shared similar ideas. “When you have a group with similar goals, you tend to exchange ideas and also you will be able to connect well if it is your own physical region.”

Murali explained that cutting down on consumption has brought her contentment in life. “It saves me so much time of maintaining those unnecessary items. Owning less leads to less maintenance, more time for family and more joy.”

She pointed out that it is not an item that brings joy, it is the memories and feelings attached to it. “So, I would rather connect with people more than with items.”

Murali aims to continue decluttering her entire home, talking about minimalism with family members and moving to a smaller place in the near future.


Nur Zailia/Singaporean expatriate

“I have been thinking of the idea of living as a minimalist since before coming to Dubai. I was inspired by articles I read in magazines years ago and I was happy to find out that some people share the same ideas as me here in the UAE. I have been cutting down on consumption of material things quite a lot, but it’s quite hard especially when it comes to home decor. I prefer things to be minimal, as cutting down certainly makes me feel content. My goal is to cut down even more on material things that I own in the years to come - mostly through donation of unused items or items in good condition.”

Dennis Peter/Indian expatriate

“My idea of being a minimalist began after shifting to UAE. This gave me a lot of freedom to have space around me. I was inspired by my dad who lives a simple life. After moving to the UAE, I stared to feel the challenges of being a family man.

“I had to set up a life of my own without a helping hand, which lead me to keep things simple and comfortable.

“This country has all the facilities any man can dream of including luxury at its maximum. However, necessity defines consumption. Deciding what is a real necessity can bring down consumption, as well as help in choosing the quality of life and its price. 
This can be hard to pin point especially when it comes to fulfilling my children’s dreams. I would say, carry on with a simple life, because it brings in more smiles.”