Morning Swimming Session with Olympic Athlete Stephanie Proud

Coming from a family who loves swimming, Stephanie couldn’t run away from this. 

She started swimming at the early age of 3 although she thinks that she should have started even earlier. 

Olympic Swimmer, beautiful girl full of life and Speedo’s International Brand Ambassador are some of the phrases someone would use to describe her. 

Fastskin LZR Racer X - Campaign_Elizabeth_Beisel (High Rez)

She started competing when she was 9 years old. Her first major competition was for the Great Britain junior team when she was 12, this lead to many international meets and 9 medals at the European Junior championships. Stephanie’s senior team accomplishments include 2010 Commonwealth Games finalist and 2011 World Championships semifinalist. Stephanie also competed in the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade where she won the gold medal.

At the age of 18, Stephanie moved to the United States where she trained at the University of Florida for the 2012 London Olympics, at which she proudly achieved 9th place in front of a home crowd.

Somewhere between her preparations for Rio’s Olympic Games for 2016 she made a quick stop to Dubai and gave a swimming session to a number of Editors and Bloggers who love sports. 

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Her guidance and patience made us all glad for waking up so early to go meet her! 

The swimming session ended with an amazing and super healthy breakfast at Talise Fitness Center Coffee Shop. Highly recommended!

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About Speedo®

The world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo is passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs and innovations and supporting swimming from grass-roots through to elite level. In the 1920s Speedo made history with the Racerback: the world’s first non-wool suit. In 2008 Speedo redefined swimwear again with Fastskin LZR RACER – the fastest and most technologically advanced swimsuit ever created. 2011 saw Speedo unveil another world first with the Fastskin Racing System – a cap, goggle and suit designed to work together as one. Speedo is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V and distributed in over 170 countries around the world; to find out more visit: www.speedo.com.


xoxo,

@DubaiCatOfficial

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Meet Marie and MARKAT ME – Brands for a good cause

Living in Dubai is making you be surrounded by some of the most fashionable people on earth. Only a walk at the mall can bring you back home with a bunch of “shopping steals”. How cool would be to make some space to your closet by giving away some of the pieces you’re not using anymore, whilst you’re also giving back to the society?

Marie Baagoee, a fashionista who wanted to fill the gap of pre-loved brands in Dubai, thought of that and created Markat ME.

Markat ME is the Middle East’s first concept that spreads the joy of fashion by giving back.

DubaiLoving spent some time with this lovely, young entrepreneur and is happy to introduce her to you.

– So, who is Marie and why she chose to live and work in Dubai?

I came to Dubai the first time in 2007 and i just fell in love! This city is sparkling for business, entrepreneurship and it seems like no business idea is impossible here. I always wanted to start my own businesses, so this just seemed like the perfect place for me to live.

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– What inspired you to start Markat ME?

In Denmark we have a lot of similar platforms, that allows you to resell your brands. Its a normal thing to sort your closet every now and then, both to get space but as well to get cash for new shopping adventures. It hurts me when brand new or nearly used items are left in the closet, getting dusty and forgotten. Why not pass it on and let someone else to love it? There are so many great aspects of dealing with secondhand goodies, one is as i just mentioned the waste of a brand new items being forgotten and left alone, but also the environmental aspect. We kill a lot of animals, and waste a lot of chemicals every time we produce new products. Why make all this harm if it’s not even being appreciated and loved? That cow suffered to please your image, so if you change your mind and end up not using the item, at least pass it on to someone who will appreciate and love what it took to produce this specific product! 

Another great aspect of secondhand is the fact that it’s off the market. Especially in Dubai, people tend to buy the same things, but here is a change to stand out – to form your own style and identity, even for a good bargain!  

So this is how Markat ME started. I wanted to bring this whole subject in the spotlight, in a region who is really developing in the art scene as well as the environmental!

– What are the elements that differentiate Markat ME from the other e-shops?

So to make Markat ME stand out, I was looking into this market, where our members might not need to sell out in order to make cash for new shopping founds, so to make it attractive here, I attached charity! When you upload your items for sale, you not only decide the price yourself, you can also choose to donate a portion of the sale to charity. We have selected four options at the moment, but always welcome more projects to support.

– How would you describe UAE’s women?

I definitely think of business – even though she might be a housewife, women here just tend to care a lot about their look, image and style. I believe the UAE woman is very independent and strong, one who has an opinion and dare to stand out!

– Favorite saying? 

Your biggest potential is hidden in your fear.

– Any future plans you would like to share with DubaiLoving?

Yes – We are very excited to be sponsoring a new POP UP concept in Dubai. The first weekend of every month, ‘Designers POP UP Market’ will take place in Urban Bistro, Dubai Media City. We will of course have a live sale of great designers bargains as well as another 20 designers and art crafters will showcase their products! There will be a lot of activities and complementary spa treatments, so please don’t miss out on that!

Moments from Designers POP UP Market
Moments from Designers POP UP Market

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Besides that, we are open for uploads, sales and charity 24/7 on www.markatme.com 🙂

DubaiLoving and I wish all the best to Marie for her future plans. We’re always glad to see young people with smart ideas to conquer the world! We’ll see you at “Designers Pop Up Market”. 🙂


xoxo,

@DubaiCatOfficial

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Follow Markat ME

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Link to Markat ME on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markatme?ref=bookmarks

Link to ‘Designers POP UP Market’: https://www.facebook.com/designerspopup

Link to event: https://www.facebook.com/events/975518749166673/

The girl who makes our Saturdays beautiful

For those who are lucky enough to have included in their weekly routine some walks to Al Barsha Pond Park as I do, I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of people twisting, stretching, bending, or as I like to say “dancing” in the sunset under the instructions of a lovely girl with the warm heart and smile.

Me enjoying our Savasana pose
Me enjoying our Savasana pose

The “bunch of people” is me, my friends, families, men, women and everyone who got lucky enough to be informed that there’s a community yoga class in this beautiful location. Soon it’s gonna be also you and your friends.

Let’s now meet the “lovely girl with the warm heart and smile”: Her name is Lakshya, she’s Yoga Instructor, she is incredibly sweet, with a big love for Greece and she has a magical way to make you love yoga.

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  1. What does Lakshya Yoga stand for?

Lakshya yoga stands for the teachings of traditional Hatha yoga, from the heart. The name Lakshya was given to me by my Guru, meaning happiness as ones ultimate goal. So that goes well in line with all the teachings of yoga and yogic philosophies! Through the platform of Lakshya Yoga, I am here to provide support and guidance in all aspects of Yoga. Offering teachings from the heart that are based on the Vedic Tradition, and come along with Values, Yogic practice, the study of Sanskrit and the use of Mantras and chanting.

  1. What are your yoga classes like?

They are Hatha Yoga classes. We focus on breathing, warming up the body, sun salutations, and then holding various Asanas (postures) for a length of time. With the physical practice we stretch, strengthen and twist, to keep the body fully healthy and supple!

  1. What inspires you to give free community yoga classes in Barsha Park?

I truly believe that yoga is an amazing tool we have been gifted with for our overall wellbeing and it should be available to everyone, despite their backgrounds or financial status. It is a great honor to offer free community classes and give everyone an equal chance to come and practice. More than that, we break the barriers between social groups within Dubai as all kinds of people come together for this. It is so beautiful and precious, this is what I really feel is a “union”- the popular definition of yoga.

  1. What are your other passions?

I have a great passion for learning languages! I have studied Sanskrit for three years, which was an amazing base for studying the scriptures and other ancient texts from India. Nowadays I am also learning Hindi- for me such a useful tool considering 1/6 of the world’s population is Indian- and Greek, just out of my love for Greece.

  1. Where is home for you?

Tough question! I grew up in the Middle East, so in some form this is home for me. In terms of where my heart finds itself most relaxed i would definitely say India. It’s my spiritual home, as mother India always takes me in with open arms and nurtures me in many ways.

  1. What are your favorite travel destinations?

I love Greece. It’s such a beautiful country with a rich culture and history! It would be a dream come true to visit all the many islands there. I also love travelling in Asia, and India of course! My journeys are usually for destinations with rich culture and heritage, as those fascinate me.

  1. Tell us about your upcoming retreats in India!

These are going to be beautiful! We have two retreats, first one from 2-9July and second is from 9-14th of July. They will be in Kerala, which is a beautiful, luscious and green place. We offer daily yoga classes, ayurvedic massages, and the best (non spicy!) home cooked vegetarian meals! These retreats are so relaxing and rejuvenating, and truly a perfect escape from the hot desert-heat here in Dubai!

Thank you Lakshya for making our Saturdays more beautiful, thank you for creating this lovely community and for being there for us constantly smiling and motivating us to “push ourselves a bit further”. I’m glad I’ve met you and I’m part of this. Keep it up and soon we’ll fill Central Park as well!

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xoxo,

@DubaiCatOfficial

Instagram & Facebook


Follow Lakshya Yoga

 Lakshya Yoga

Like on Facebook for updates of classes/retreats: www.facebook.com/lakshyayoga

and visit www.lakshyayoga.com

Meet Lara & Yoga

Some weeks ago we had the pleasure to interview a young and talented artist named Nirina Ralanto (for those who need a memory refresh: http://goo.gl/uPCuZh ).

As you probably know by now, each one who’s being hosted in our website has to share the love and nominate someone else who thinks they’re interesting enough to be part of our #DubaiLoving community.

So Nirina nominated Lara, and here I am, few days later waiting patiently for her in …Switzerland (Costa Coffee @ MOE with Ski Dubai view).

She arrives with a big smile on her face and she gives me a warm hug, as if she knew me for ever! She’s muuuuch taller than she looks in the pictures and she reflects a peaceful energy all over her and it takes no time for me to understand what made Nirina notinate her.

Let’s meet her!

-Who are you?

As someone who doesn’t like labels, I find this hard to answer. 
I only know I have human form and that I am expressing myself through this earthly life. But who is that ‘I’ is quite complex to explain and understand. I will seek the answer throughout the life, so call me a seeker.

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– Did you choose Dubai or Dubai chose you?

Dubai chose me. Middle Eastern culture impressed me the very first time I visited Dubai. I felt this deeply in my heart which was telling me to move to the desert. So I followed it and here I am.  I always joke I was a camel in my previous life.

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– What do you like the most about your job?

Seeing I that have touched someone’s life, inspired and gave them the possibility of discovering their true potential of which they were previously not maybe aware of.  Just the fact that I am contributing to the healing and to love is the biggest gift. There is so much pain and hate in this world. Sharing the gift of yoga with others is the true gift itself.

 

– Describe Yoga in 5 words.

A calling. A journey. Freedom. Realization. Oneness.

 

– What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?

Loving. Creative. Determined.

 

– What kind of personality do you work best with and why?

I work best with people who are independent, who understand the need for freedom, for self expression and individuality. People who are non judgmental and with whom I can be true me.

 

– What do you believe are your key strengths?

The ability to be who I really am and to be able to express my true self. That is a strength itself as I believe it takes courage, especially in Dubai to do so and to be so. Also  – Compassion. Humility. Sensibility. I know they sound like weird strengths, but they help me reach to the people and their hearts; to connect with them regardless of their status, age and all that labeling. To me everyone is equal and that is how I treat people.

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– What are your long-term goals or career plans?

Career. That word never resonated with me. My goals are to pursue the study of yoga, so I can share the knowledge, the love and light through yoga. Help others to awake and realize who they really are, change their self image perception and see beyond the physical and material.Open the center one day in which people would connect, practice, study and inspire each other, where love would rule and ego would diminish. I guess I am a true hippy in my heart 🙂

 

– Favorite Quote.

‘ And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’ – Anais Nin

 

-Who do you suggest your followers to follow next and why?

I suggest my followers to follow the amazingly inspiring Moustafa Hamwi – my fellow yogi buddy, international speaker, lifestyle coach, adventurer, creator of  ‘ Cavalli to Manali ‘ & much more.  His story will change you and probably make you resign your job and buy a one way ticket to the Neverland in search of a guru. 🙂

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It was such a pleasure meeting another lovely girl, full of dreams, who believe in a world full of love and prosperity! Cheers to all us hopeless romantics!

Lara, I truly wish you good luck for your future steps. I’m sure the light you have in your eyes and heart will lead you to an amazing path. I’ll see you in one of your classes. 😉

xoxo,

DubaiCat

Instagram: @DubaiCatOfficial

https://www.facebook.com/dubaicat


 

Follow Lara&Yoga

lara and yoga

Instagram: @laroushb

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/leapofsoulyoga

Blog : leapofsoulwordpress.com

Meet Mulham and ArchiwareLtd

No introduction needed for this young man. Take the time and scroll down his Instagram profile and you’ll have it all. A tall (!) passionate architect who’s fascinated by the impressive architecture of UAE, loves his family and friends and likes to keep things simple yet interesting!

Meet the ambitious and talented Mulham Jazmati and his brand new, super promising, ArchiwareLtd.

WHO ARE YOU?

I am Mulham Jazmati. I am an Architect and an Artist. I am a Photographer and a Designer. I am an Entrepreneur and a Company Owner. I am the change that I want to see in the world.

Where does your artistic influence come from and when did you start making clothing?

I am mostly influenced by the architecture and art that is surrounding me in my everyday life. Most of the designs that I produce are inspired by the architecture and art of the United Arab Emirates. I started designing clothes about a year ago, however, I just decided to make use of it by starting my own clothing line recently.

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How do you describe your fashions and style?

It’s basically being loyal to where you’re from and representing your hometown in style. So I’d say somewhere along the lines of Stylish/Artistic/Architectural Ethnicity?’

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Do you try to send out a message or theme in your clothes?

As I mentioned in the previous question, ArchiwareLtd is basically about representing your hometown. It’s about representing your favorite spot or building. If you live in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, why not wear it with pride? If you really like how the infinity tower looks, why don’t you show it to the world? There aren’t any clothing lines out there that are solely dedicated to architecture and art and that’s exactly what makes ArchiwareLtd so special.

What is it like working for yourself now and who is your dream client?

It’s pretty hectic….in its own awesome way. I am still not completely “working for myself” I work as an Architect in the day and I manage ArchiwareLtd at night. It’s like I’m batman but a lot less dangerous.

 As for my dream client, I’d be more than happy to see any of the royal family in the UAE wearing my designs or supporting my movement.

Favorite Landmark/Building in Dubai?
 

This is a really tough question to answer. It’s like taking a kid to a toy store and asking them which toy do they like most. Each landmark in the UAE is beautiful in it’s own aesthetic, but if I were to be completely honest, I’m always in favor of simple and elegant design principals. I’d have to say that D1 Tower in Dubai really relates to my style in designing (Not the shading devices at the podium level though,I’m definitely not a fan of those).

Favorite designer?

If I were to give a cliché answer I’d say Carolina Herrera, but since I’m really not a fan of clichés, I’d have to say I’m more influenced by Kanye West. I like his simplistic style in designing clothes and I really appreciate his struggle and effort in making a name for himself by always pushing the envelope in every field that he’s involved in. I feel like I can relate to that on a much smaller scale.

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What brought you to Dubai and how do you like it so far?

I’ve actually lived in the UAE my entire life, however, my family’s based in Abu Dhabi. After I finished my undergraduate studies at the American University of Sharjah, I decided to follow my dreams by starting my career on my own in Dubai. So far, it has been a great experience. It has really allowed me to explore and find myself as an artist and more importantly, as a human being. Dubai is now my home that’s not so far away from home.

Favorite saying?

Family First.

Future Plans?

Taking ArchiwareLtd worldwide and allowing everyone around the world to wear their culture and their architectural landmarks with pride.

Person in Dubai you’d suggest your followers to follow next and why?

Well, since my mother keeps telling me that I’m the best at what I do I’ll have to say you should follow me, @mulhamjazmati, on every social media.

On a more serious note, I have had the pleasure of being associated with some of the best and most talented artists in Dubai. If you’re into photography and the urban scene, follow @caterinawesome and @andri_ibenk. If you’re into illustration and water coloring, follow @fixthesky. Finally, if you’re into fine arts and film follow @aalsadr .

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A coffee with him and a few questions and you’ll be able to see the real person behind the dark clothes, with the childish enthusiasm for everything artistic, stylish and unique around him, with the clever humor and kind eyes. We’re looking forward to see more from him.

Thanks Mulham and ArchiwareLtd. It was a pleasure hosting you in our website.

xoxo,

DubaiCat

@DubaiCatOfficial


Follow ArchiwareLtd

archiware

Instagram: @ArchiwareLtd

https://www.facebook.com/ArchiwareLtd

https://twitter.com/archiwareltd

Follow Mulham

@mulhamjazmati

Dubai Flow Motion by Rob Whitworth

Not only Dubai, but practically the whole world is talking about the extraordinary video Rob Whitworth created for Dubai. Its name: “Dubai Flow Motion”.

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What did inspire him? How much time did it take? Why Dubai?

These are some of the questions arose after we watched it and we had the pleasure to get them answered by him 🙂

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The video was 2 weeks in story-boarding, 7 weeks shooting on location and then another 7 weeks in post production.

It was more than Dubai chose me- I was commissioned by a company called Dubai Film (http://dubaifilm.ae/) to make the video.

My first impressions of Dubai were consumed with the spectacle of super tall buildings jutting out of the desert sands, however the lasting impression was the wonder of the desert, and its importance to the Emirati people.”
Enjoy it!

Follow Rob:

Website: robwhitworth.co.uk/
Facebook: facebook.com/RobWhitworthPhotography
Instagram: instagram.com/robwhitworthphotography

Special thanks to Susanne Long, Production Manager of Rob Whitworth for her kind cooperation.

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xoxo,

DubaiCat

@DubaiCatOfficial / @DubaiLoving

Meet Sarah from Bowery & Fourth

Do you remember our article about The Bureau Dubai? What do you mean “no” you little goldfish?? Here: http://bit.ly/1yeXydc

While I was having a coffee with Shahzad, one of the co founders of The Bureau Dubai, and I explained him DubaiLoving’s concept (sharing interesting profiles and initiatives in Dubai, based on a “pay it forward” concept where you nominate someone to take part and share their story), he suggested Sarah from Bowery and Fourth and I couldn’t be happier to get to know her and her interesting brand. I’m always amazed by young people who find a gap in one field and try their best to fill it and create their own success story. That’s Sarah. That’s Bowery & Fourth. Enjoy!

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WHO ARE YOU?

Tough question, I am still trying to find out for myself.

In this particular context I am a previous finance girl turned fashion entrepreneur on a quest to make women look and feel confident at work.

Where does your artistic influence come from and when did you start making clothing?

I know is sounds really random, but I really love the esthetics of Danish furniture design (Arne Jacobsen in particular) and most often I find my inspiration from there in terms of visual appeal.

I’ve been sketching and sowing for as long as I can remember, but my creative side was suppressed for quite some time while I was working finance.

How do you describe your fashions and style?

Simplicity and structure with a touch of details. Most often, “Less is really more”. Unless it’s fries.

Do you try to send out a message or theme in your clothes?

Very much indeed. Bowery & Fourth is about so much more than pretty skirts and nice jackets…. During my time in finance, I noticed myself and my female colleagues becoming lesser versions of ourselves, because we tend to feel insecure in terms of how we should portray ourselves in a corporate setting. So for me, Bowery & Fourth is about redefining women’s corporate identity and encouraging women to be strong and independent.

What is it like working for yourself now and who is your dream client?

Just like any other job, there are good days and bad days. Some days I am completely manic, running around like a mad woman, other days I feel like my sole purpose in life is to lye in my bed all day, while binging Netflix and scrolling trough junk on social media. My advice to anyone looking to start a business is that you really need to know why you are doing it and not just what you are doing in order to maintain a sense of purpose.

My dream client is someone who knows what she wants and recognizes good quality fabric and immaculate stitching.

Favorite designer?

From a historical point of view I would have to say Coco Chanel and Christian Dior because of how they revolutionized womenswear.

From current designers, I admire the effortless and simple designs of Phoebe Philo (Chloe and Celine), although I appreciate a bit more structure in my own designs. I quite like Karl Lagerfeld as a public figure.

What brought you to Dubai and how do you like it so far?

The opportunities and the vibrant start-up scene – everyone’s an entrepreneur in some sense! Being half Moroccan, half Danish I am also very dawned to the multinational scene.

Favorite saying?

There is no finish line.

Future Plans?

Make Bowery & Fourth a brand that stands for something and develop global presence.

Person in Dubai you’d suggest your followers to follow next and why?

I won’t just stay in one:
Justina is launching her super cool fashion and lifestyle blog, covering everything that is hip and happening in Dubai. While I am at times a bit skeptical of bloggers, this one is actually worth following. (Instagram: @justinfashion.today )
And Mona, founder of Fashion Process, a community looking to build bridges between designers, creatives, bloggers and other passionate people. I already attending one event and it is really something different. (Instagram: @mona_mdd )
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Follow Bowery & Fourth

http://www.boweryandfourth.com/

https://instagram.com/boweryandfourth/

https://www.facebook.com/boweryandfourth

xoxo,

DubaiCat

@DubaiCatOfficial / @DubaiLoving

Dubai Skyline by Daniel Cheong

Photographer Daniel Cheong spent more than 6 months photographing the record-breathtaking skyline of Dubai.

The windows of Burj Khalifa catch a glint of sunlight as the skyscrapers of Dubai stand high above the clouds in this picture taken from the 79th floor of the Index Tower.
The windows of Burj Khalifa catch a glint of sunlight as the skyscrapers of Dubai stand high above the clouds in this picture taken from the 79th floor of the Index Tower.
Looking north from the 79th floor of Index Tower, the tops of the Park Towers, bottom center, along with the buildings lining in Sheikh Zayed Road are visible.
Looking north from the 79th floor of Index Tower, the tops of the Park Towers, bottom center, along with the buildings lining in Sheikh Zayed Road are visible.
The skyline just along the Persian Gulf, as seen from the 85th floor of Princess Tower
The skyline just along the Persian Gulf, as seen from the 85th floor of Princess Tower
Looking north from the 101 floor of the Burj Khalifa, the Index Tower, center and other skyscrapers stand high above the clouds
Looking north from the 101 floor of the Burj Khalifa, the Index Tower, center and other skyscrapers stand high above the clouds
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building as seen from the 79th floor of Index Tower
Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building as seen from the 79th floor of Index Tower

Follow the super talented Daniel Cheong here:

https://www.facebook.com/danielcheongphotography

and on Instagram @danielcheongdubai

xoxo,

@DubaiCatOfficial

Article source: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/17/middleeast/gallery/dubai-skyline/

Our New Alphabet by Nirina Ralanto

Life brought on my way a very special person who I’d love to introduce to all of you on this week’s #FollowThem : Nirina Ralanto. An artist, a teacher, a poet, but above all a unique soul and creative mind.

Let’s meet her!

Nirina, tell us about yourself.

I am half from France and half from Madagascar. My mixed origin makes me deeply aware of the diversity in the world, so that I have always been always inspired by different and divergent points of view, and the necessity to reconcile the opposites and reinvent harmony within our world.

Since 2000, I have been a “teacher artist”, because I was teaching French language for 13 years in France, in the US and in Abu Dhabi, and during this career I always aimed to teach with a high sense of art and creativity. On July 2013, I decided to stop teaching at University, so that I can be a full-time artist and deepen my craft and research in painting and writing.

Now I am an “artist teacher”, because I aim to create art with a high sense of education and transmission. This is a good way to understand the purpose of my new exhibition “Our New Alphabet” at French Alliance of Abu Dhabi in Al Bateen, from March 2nd until the 30th.

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What role does art have in your life?

Art has always been in my life. I was born to be an artist, this a calling that I felt since I was a child and I was very lucky that my parents naturally introduced me to all the arts: they brought me to music class when I was 4 (to this “musical garden” that was a simple introduction to music for young children), guitar class from 5 to 16 years old, singing in choirs, classical dance when I was 7, then contemporary and jazz dance later in the teenager age, piano and clarinet class when I was 12, acting class from 15 to 21 years old in different acting schools. Painting is the only art that I didn’t discover through school. I am an autodidact in this field…

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What art do you most identify with?

I would say calligraphy. I have always been passionate in handwriting. I learned ancient greek in high school and loved to write this new alphabet. I also enjoyed copying the Gothic style of old manuscripts, or even some Egyptian hieroglyphs, Chinese ideograms or cuneiform writings. I remember that I used a lot of fountain pens for calligraphy in high school to write the date and the subject on my homework for literature or even mathematic or biology teachers! It was obviously of outside of the requirements, but I always wanted my papers to become small pieces of art, even in the not-so-creative student life… Later on, in the late 90’s when I was a student at Sorbonne in Paris, I remember buying dozen and dozen of these ubiquitous postcards in the Parisian shops of the Quartier Latin. These postcards were reproductions of sentences, words or poems made with Arabic calligraphy. I was in love with them and the beauty of the shapes, their translations and inspiring messages. They were quite new to me and very popular at that time, and I remember sending several of them every week to my sister and girlfriends, with my own text on the back of the Arabic calligraphy. At that time we didn’t have this frenetic invention called “internet” (or it was just the fresh beginning), and I used to go to the post office and send at least 10 letters or postcards per week! The Arabic calligraphy was a perfect combination for me between abstract, beauty, hidden and revealed messages for my loved ones.

Just recently, around 2009 when I lived in France, I started to draw some recurrent shapes in my paintings that people keep describing as “arabesques”. I was wondering where this obsession came from… It was actually the beginning of this inspiration. Then on August 2010 when I moved to Abu Dhabi to teach at Sorbonne on Reem Island, my attraction for the Arabic calligraphy became clear. I bought a pedagogic book about the alphabet and started to copy the letters. I took only very beginner class of Arabic during a few weeks, I learned the alphabet but didn’t get the opportunity to practice more, so that my knowledge is very weak. But with this basic foundation, I got enough to get inspired and feel free to improvise on the canvas. Very interesting phenomenon: it’s only when I left the UAE and went back home in France one year and half ago that I started to paint more and more calligraphy, as if I wanted to reconnect with this Arabic culture that I already missed, this Arabic culture that I wanted to thank for all the new perception that it gave to me and to my artistic inspiration.

So it’s been one year now that I experiment and develop this type of writing, with ink on paper or acrylic on canvas. It is not Arabic calligraphy but it is based on the style, of course.

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Tell us about your inspiration and creative process.

I simply take the pen or the paintbrush and go with the flow. I don’t think at all, I don’t sketch anything, I just write and improvise. This is an automatic writing and what is very joyful for me is that I don’t know what I write. Once again, it looks like Arabic but it is not Arabic. It is made of different shapes inspired by many alphabets: Arabic, latin, greek, tibetan, bengali, hindi, devangari, thai, gothic, cyrillic, maya, etc… My new collections is full of so many shapes, curves lines, dots and movements that there is no limit to find and identify the multidimensional origin of my inspiration since I am influenced consciously and subconsciously by everything I see during my readings and my travels. In fact, last year I traveled to India in Goa, to Nepal and to Indonesia in Bali and Jakarta and I am sure it also deeply conditioned me to create this “new alphabet”. But the key is: I don’t know the meaning of what I write.

To be able to combine and harmonize all these influences and these pieces of alphabets gives me a high sense of belonging and freedom at the same time. The creative process is based on spontaneity and let-it-go. Basically I do this kind of free and yet un-decoded calligraphy like I do meditation. I am in a “no-thought state”… or I try to be… Maybe can I reach a higher, transcendental and universal language? Maybe some people one day will be able to read what I wrote without knowing the meaning of what I write? Like a new Rosetta stone? Who knows…

The creative process is supposed to keep going through the viewer. The un-decoded calligraphy of this “new alphabet” will obviously speak to him/her, here and there. It is his/her turn to create by translating or decoding what he/she perceives, and share his/her interpretation and confront it with others.

I called it “Our New Alphabet” because it is not only mine, it is ours: it aims to open the dialog and interpretation of the diverse points of view. And since none of us have the actual translation… nobody is right, nobody is wrong, everybody has the right to express how he/she feels and there is only room for dialog, listening skills, acceptance and curiosity towards the other point of view. “Our New Alphabet” is ultimately a place for otherness.

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What memorable responses have you had to your work at the Opening of your exhibition?

Someone asked me: “But… what does it say exactly?\ I said: I don’t know… / she said: Are you making fun of me? / I said: Not at all! Myself, I have no clue about what I write…”

Some Emirati friends said: “ this is bizarre, to me it is Arabic but I cannot read!”

Some French friends said: “I am sure that if a Chinese person see your painting he will say, it is Chinese, but I cannot identify what it says…!”

Some Iraki friend said: “I can actually read some half words here and there!”

Some just said that they love it because it is simply beautiful to watch.

Someone told at the opening: “Congratulations! You really invented a new language!”

All these reactions make me happy because I have a feeling I really talk to people’s heart, beyond words.

Here is the poem written by my friend, the poet Bahareh Amidi, after seeing “Our New Alphabet”exhibition:

The New Alphabet.

Finally a universal language by an artist that transcends all borders, all flags.

A language not spoken but heard

A language conceived from a grain of sand in the desert and a thought – an inspiration.

Nirina has transformed many alphabets into the reality of truth of all.

Truth of all language

Truth of all alphabets.

Simply love

Simply Light.

 

Bahareh, 2nd of March 2015, Abu Dhabi

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Who are your favorite artists?

I love the Spanish painter Salvador Dali and the Belgian René Magritte. They both are painters from the surrealist movement, from different styles of course, but both passionate about the link between representation and expression, objects and words. Their paintings (linked to their titles) are teaching us something deeper and more mysterious that the only language can do. When I see Dali and Magritte’s work, it gives me chills. To me, to feel this vibration is a proof that the artist touched the Truth and was able to transmit it to us. This is what I want to reach through art: go beyond the common system of beliefs, try to reach the universal and transcendental truth and share it with the world.

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Tell us about your projects that are going on.

About cinema, while my webseries has been selected at the Vancouver Webfest in Canada on March the 6th-8th and will also be launched on Indieflix channel for a few months and the new platform The Big Picture, my brother and I are finalizing our newest version of a feature film, a French comedy based on the webseries and our grandmother character. We are now trying to produce this movie in France.

My this is the channel for my nominated by Vancouver Webfest  for Best Family project: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8lyhbDM82FpDBBzdye6MzS19Njtewlwk

You can also have a look at the link to Travel Journal in Abu Dhabi: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8lyhbDM82FpxIONdq5hC8CW3Df0O-2Yv

About my exhibition, I already sold some paintings exhibited now at French Alliance until end of March, and I hope that more will be sold because 20% of the proceeds will be donated to women labourers in Mussafah.

I would like to bring this exhibition to children and teenagers from various cultures and languages and see what it tells to them.

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Any message you want to send to your followers?

Just a little poem for everyone:

Go back to the Child in you

Find your Inner Voice

Be Aligned with yourself

Be Grateful for every little thing

Express everything you have in your Heart

Your life will be your art

Your art will be your life

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Where can someone Follow You?

1) My blog is http://nirinaralanto.blogspot.com/

2) my art prints are available on the website http://society6.com/nirina

3) People can reach me on Facebook, twitter, instagram @nirinaralanto

I have different Facebook groups called:

Nirina Ralanto

-Our New Alphabet

Follow the Flow / Suivre le Flux (white ink on paper – you can watch videos of me doing calligraphy)

Today I feel Human because (for humanist messages – we started this group with a very good Emirati friend of mine)

My weekend with Mémé (The French docu-webseries with English subtitles)

Travel Journal in Abu Dhabi (I filmed this webseries between January 2012 and 2013 when I discovered the UAE)

Welcome to my brain (movie, work in progress)

4) You can read my French poetry about meditation on the “short édition” writers platform, on my personal page: http://short-edition.com/auteur/nirina-ralanto

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Last but not least, -our favorite question- who would you suggest your followers follow next and why?

Lara Bogdanovic, (Instagram account: @laroushb). Because she is a perfect example of a life shifting process that reflects being able to face yourself and listen to your inner voice to “become yourself” despite of certain loud voices (including yours) who prefer to stay in fear. Lara is a perfect example of a human being who surrounded her fear. Which is key to transcend and reach a higher and true harmony.


“Our New Alphabet” exhibition at French Alliance of Abu Dhabi in Al Bateen, from March 2nd until the 30th.

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Photography of Nirina by YVES MALENFER

xoxo,

DubaiCat

Instagram @dubaicatofficial & @dubailoving

The Bureau Dubai celebrates Women in Business

The Bureau Dubai, a social workspace that provides support for local SMEs and entrepreneurs to grow and develop, had their first annual Women in Business Celebration.

The Event was to promote networking among female entrepreneurs in Dubai showcasing some up and coming brands who are part of The Bureau Dubai family. They also hosted an evening of talks, discussions and performances by local public speakers and singers.

The event was held on Friday & Saturday 6th & 7th March, just in time for International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, with the presence of notable business personalities and successful female entrepreneurs.

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The event featured home grown brands such as Bowery & Fourth, an up and coming fashion label catered for Women in the workplace and guest speaker Lina Habib Naifeh, Founder of Donyalmraa and Media Blends, who gave a talk on Arab women in the digital world.

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“As we were close to  women’s international day, we thought about creating an event  in which women feel empowered and inspired.

So we invited women with new business idea to The Bureau Dubai allowed them to share their business thoughts, their story and knowledge in a small supportive group.  The idea was to support them, market their product, network and help each other learn and grow. I believe that one woman’s success strongly can help another woman’s success.

A lot of women were inspired,loved the exposure and encouraged to take their business to the next level by putting it out to the market instead of working from home.”

Faten Kaddoura stated,  after seeing her idea coming to life with big success.

We’re looking forward to seeing more from the creative team of @TheBureauDubai .

xoxo,

DubaiCat


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