Ras Al Khaimah: Six years ago, Mona Sulaiman was busy inspecting warehouses in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) for health and safety violations. Her life changed when she started her vlog Tajarbi (Experiments) and became Ras Al Khaimah’s first Emirati woman vlogger in 2016.
Fast forward to 2022. Mona Sulaiman is now known as Mona Tajarbi — a social media influencer and entrepreneur, apart from being a mother of two who still continues to work at the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department of a government entity. She wears many hats such as the Ambassador of Hope at the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, Ambassador of Awareness at Smart Cells and Ambassador of Emirates Club — Ras Al Khaimah, to name a few.
Recalling her journey to fame and success, the 33-year-old told Gulf News that once she was just one of the millions of young women who merely used to follow popular social media stars. “But later on, I started to realise that whoever we had as vloggers were concentrating on and collaborating with big brands. I wanted something for my community and my society in Ras Al Khaimah that would show things in a very simple, organic way.”
Vlogging about normal life
There were no female vloggers in Ras Al Khaimah at that time, said Tajarbi. “I wanted to take the initiative to be the first female vlogger of RAK. I named my social media platform Tajarbi and vlogged about normal life, did normal restaurant reviews, makeup tutorials etc and started getting followers.”
Our leaders are giving us the opportunity to come out and speak up. Whether you are a minister, or an employee or a mother, women are accorded high regard in the UAE. We have so many initiatives for women. Women are making their mark in all fields, especially in the fields of social media, politics and space. And I think I have also been playing a role in changing the mindset of the society in Ras Al Khaimah — especially by telling people to come out and start their own business, even if there are some negative people around.
Breaking the glass ceiling
Initially, people only knew her by her voice as Tajarbi did not show her face in her videos for almost a year. She had to convince her family and take their approval before she could show her face as it was against the customs of an unmarried woman. “Nobody in my family had a social media background. So it was something that distinguished me from my sisters. After getting my family’s support, the challenge was to get acceptance in society. Yes, it was difficult to break the glass ceiling because it takes time to let people understand that this [vlogging] is a normal thing. I am like you, but the difference is that I’m showing some of your problems, things that you like, through my platform,” she said.
When she got married in 2018, her husband Abdulla became her big pillar of support. Over time, Tajarbi became popular and her popularity grew along with the number of her followers. Today, she has more than 641,000 followers on Instagram alone. She collaborates with brands across the UAE and elsewhere.
Tajarbi was a trailblazer and her vlog gave courage to many other women to follow in her footsteps. “May women are vlogging now. So, the biggest challenge now is the competition. But people still love to follow me because they see that I was the first one and yes — I like doing a good job for them.”
Entering into entrepreneurship
It was in 2020 that Tajarbi entered into the world of entrepreneurship. She was pregnant with her second baby when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and forced people to stay at home. “That is when I felt that I did many things for people, but I didn’t do anything for myself.”
Being a beauty vlogger, she didn’t want to start makeup brands as there were many already. Instead, she chose to make eyelashes first and named them ‘Blink.’ “I felt like everything in life changes in a blink for the better. That’s what happened with me since I started my vlogging journey. So I chose this name. Also, just wearing the lashes with no makeup can bring a lot of changes to your face.”
An expanding range
‘Blink’ started as an idea in 2020 and was officially launched in March 2021. “I do believe that the women don’t need heavy makeup. They just need a little bit of change to look beautiful. I started with only four types of lashes and now, after completing a year, the range has expanded to lashes/half lash/face mask/eye mask/ lip mask/eyeliner/serum and there are new products in the pipeline. I have launched the ‘Blink’ kiosk at Beauty Couture in Manar Mall, Ras Al Khaimah, and another kiosk at Floranca Beauty Centre at Kalba, Sharjah.”
“Our leaders are giving us the opportunity to come out and speak up. Whether you are a minister, or an employee or a mother, women are accorded high regard in the UAE. We have so many initiatives for women. Women are making their mark in all fields, especially in the fields of social media, politics and space. And I think I have also been playing a role in changing the mindset of the society in Ras Al Khaimah — especially by telling people to come out and start their own business, even if there are some negative people around.”
Tajarbi said she had started working since she was 19. “At first, I started working in my own university as the secretary of the dean, when I finished my bachelor’s degree in English language and translation from Ittihad University. Then I did my MBA from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, in the United States, and Inshallah, maybe next year I will be applying for a doctorate programme.”
Life as a mother
Tajarbi has been working with the RAK government for almost 12 years. “I have worked for many departments and currently I am an HSE administration officer.”
With a licence from the media council, Tajarbi said her income from her social media platforms has helped her launch her business.
Balancing her life as a mother of Ghala, three, and Haya, two, while being a busy social media influencer and entrepreneur with a full-time government job is no mean task. “I am managing everything with the support of my husband and my family. Yes, I do have my ups and downs and sometimes I feel that I need to quit. I need to just focus on one thing, but come on, we are women and we cannot concentrate on only one thing! We have to multitask,” she said, laughing and adding that she strongly believed that “whenever Allah gives you something, He also gives you the strength to manage it”.