Fatima, or Hello965, in Greece Image Credit: RR

As the heat starts to intensify and the summer sun unfurls its comforting rays, the allure of travel beckons with a renewed fervour. In this issue, we delve into the vibrant, sun-kissed world of summer journeys, embracing the energising rhythm of exotic locales, cultural escapades and untrodden paths waiting to be discovered, hearing from ‘Travel Media Influencer of the Year’, globetrotting Kuwaiti national, Fatima AlMattar, or as many travelers know her, Hello965.

Carving her path as a travel influencer, Fatima visited countless global destinations, each of those leaving a unique imprint on her spirit. Born of an unquenchable curiosity and a fascination with the world’s kaleidoscopic cultures, landscapes and people, Hello965 became a medium to share her global chronicles with travel-obsessed people—like me—and amateurs alike.

In between one flight and the other, our conversation with Fatima unfolds. Her pictures show a woman imbued with an insatiable wanderlust; her words pulsate with a contagious enthusiasm for the world’s unexplored corners. Curious about how it all started and the travel memory that marked her the most, we dig around.

“I will always recall this memory that has had a profound and lasting impact on my life: my journey to Everest Base Camp. In the awe-inspiring and rugged landscape of Nepal, I embarked on a challenging adventure to hike to basecamp alongside a group of fellow travellers,” she shared. This trip that pushed her to physical and mental limits, testing her endurance in ways she had never imagined or perhaps even wanted to experience, changed it all. As she trekked for days, going through numerous moments of solitude where one is left completely alone with one’s thoughts, she relished being far away from the distractions of everyday life. The luxury of countless hours of introspection—in this bustling day and age, time has indeed become a luxury—was a welcomed change of pace; in this serene isolation, immersed in breathtaking natural surroundings, Fatima was able to reflect on the path she had taken and contemplate the direction she wished to navigate from then onwards. And it was during those precious, both challenging and rewarding moments of solitude, that she made a life-altering decision that would allow her to follow her dreams and passions. “The expedition became the incentive for my transformation into a full-time traveller, venturing into the world on my own terms,” she explained, talking about what sparked the inner metamorphosis that liberated her from the corporate sphere and plunged her into the uncharted waters of the travel industry, eventually leading her to launch Hello965, her own travel enterprise.

Intrigued by the world and its myriad cultures, Fatima decided to explore its expanses and share her experiences. Her travelogues are designed to provide authentic recommendations, fueled by extensive research and personal experiences, especially when customised to a specific market. While continued research and updates are very important to keep things up to date, Fatima also draws upon her own travel experiences to offer genuine insights and firsthand knowledge, sharing personal stories and anecdotes that provide an authentic approach and convey the true essence of the destinations she explores.

When it comes to tips: “First off, research!” she emphasises. She talks about the importance of comprehensive research and local interactions to those aspiring to unearth hidden gems, -lesser-known attractions and off-the-beaten-path experiences. To her, “locals often prove to be the best guides, their insights invaluable in discovering the destination’s authentic charm. Strike up conversations, ask for recommendations, and participate in local activities if any. Utilise online travel communities, local forums and personal blogs for insider information.” She also advises respecting local culture, customs and environment, being mindful of sustainable travel practices, supporting local businesses and leaving a positive impact on the communities one visits. Trust her, she knows.

As I go down another rabbit hole gazing at the dreamy pictures on her Instagram feed, a vibrant tapestry of picturesque landscapes and thriving cultures forms and I ask the woman behind Hello965 about her favorite summer destination: “Greece continues to hold a special place in my heart,” she says, adding: “The country’s breathtaking islands, delicious cuisine and lively summer vibe combine to create an unforgettable experience every time I visit.” The unique, charming islands; idyllic, -crystal-clear turquoise waters; and warm, hospitable Greek people known for their zest for life capture her heart time and again. The infectious summer vibe resonates with her vibrant personality. Yet, she admits a desire to visit Fiji, a destination still unchecked on her travel bucket list. Let’s keep an eye out for that one.

Fatima—the woman—and Hello965—the traveler—coexist seamlessly, a testament to her authenticity. When it comes to summer essentials, the rhythmic beats of Hasta El Fin top her playlist, and she’s quite fond of her Loewe basket bags, a perfect summer accessory. FSD