D-journal Issue #13

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Mohammad Abdullah Zelda Cheatle Ciaran Bonas Amanda Navai Rami Al Ali Dirk Bader Ayaad Damouni Marriam Mossalli

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The co-founders Ayaad and Meredith Damouni

It’s 10 years since we arrived in Dubai and it’s the Lynx Awards 10th year too. What an amazing journey we’ve had. At the same time, an amazing journey for our fellow media community and collaborators, with this city, Dubai, inspiring us all every day. In the past 10 years we have seen the birth of Studio City, Media Production Zone and most recently, Dubai Design District. This growth and development is sentiment to us all working in the media industry and credit to the dynamic industry that has evolved. Here’s to another great 10 years ahead. Follow us on the journey forward @DjournalDubai, @CapitalDStudio, @mrDamouni, @TheRealMrsDamouni

Cover: Mohammad Abdullah shot at Capital D Studio. Photograph by Ayaad Damouni. Production and Post by Capital D Studio.

Managing Director: Ayaad Damouni Brand Director/ Managing Editor: Meredith Damouni Art Director: Anil Raina Head of Production: Mona Melhem Talent Bookings: Sorelle Anthony Production Assistant : John Japon Senior Retoucher: Shijar Mohammed Photographers: Miguel Veterano, Marvin Caibal Video Team: Monica Moreno, Gideon Fajardo Copyright ©Capital D Studio Po Box 36122, Dubai #50, Street 6, Al Quoz 3, Dubai +971 4 341 5339 ask@capitaldstudio.com Published by Mixed Media Publishing FZ LLC Address: Block # 1 Al Sufouh Rd - Dubai Phone:04 367 1693

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FALL WINTER 2016 31 MAR - 3 APR HAI d3

In Partnership with

Supported by


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Mohammed Abdullah Production and Post by Capital D Studio.

“In total we had twenty-one major films and hundreds of commercial productions being shot here in Dubai.�

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Mohammad Abdullah Incubating Regional Media Minds WE MEET WITH MOHAMMED ABDULLAH, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF MEDIA CITY AND MEDIA INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PRODUCTION ZONE. Written by Meredith Damouni Photography by Ayaad Damouni

“I think the fast development that’s happening in the world in media has effected the media in the Middle east and Duba in general. Where we are today is the result of the seed that was planted fifteen years ago with the launch of Media City. The developments that are happening are not in isolation but are a reflection of what’s happening worldwide. The integration of digital technology being the major driving factor. Earlier, even in terms of what we did with the launch of knowledge-based clusters within the media, Internet City, Media City and other zones we saw collaborations. But today we are seeing so much integration happening across all these segments is extremely exciting. Also a highlight is the interest in Dubai as a production destination from the rest of the world is something we have seen in the past twelve months. It’s been happening for many years however in the last twelve months we have seen so many movies - Star Trek, Jackie Chan has been here, Bollywood movies being shot here and Arabic dramas. In total we had twenty-one major films and hundreds of commercial productions being shot here in Dubai. What we announced at the end of last year was the establishment of the media incubator, In5. We have done something similar a few years ago in the ICT cluster, In5 Technology, which was a great success. The TECOM In5 Media Innovation Centre is set to be the platform for innovation in the Arab world to support and

nurture young talent within the media industry. The idea has three main objectives being; accelerating startups and entrepreneurship, drive media innovation and new initiatives and position Dubai as a great place to have a media startup because of location and support available. The five step plan of the centre takes selected candidates through a process whereby the steering committee selects startups to be admitted to the incubator. During their five month incubation period, startups gain access to various benefits spanning the incubation value chain and upon graduation become part of the In5 Alumni Network. Today, if someone has an idea they can submit it to In5 for the chance to be supported through the incubation process. Last year there were over seventy ideas that were supported through this initiative. They were offered mentorship, training, guidance and support of a five month period including getting them in touch with investors. We are targeting fifty to sixty ideas for each five month programme to be supported. Speaking as someone who has worked in the media industry, the scene has always been challenged by not having enough creative talent on the ground in the region. Today, things have changed within the fifteen years of establishing a concept such as Media City. Today we have over 25,000 media professionals working in the Media Cluster today. The pool of talent has increased, but also the demand has increased. An example is Mission Impossible 4, filmed in 2011. They had to bring about

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I mentioned earlier how it was fifteen “ When years ago, I am extremely proud that today we have over 2000 media companies working within the Media Cluster.

eighty percent of the crew from abroad. Look at the recent Star Trek production last year, only fifty percent of the crew had to come in. The remaining were used from local talent. I know today there are still many companies in production, publishing and other media disciplines that complain of not having enough talent to select from, but things are changing. One other challenge, for me at least being an Emirati, is the amount of Emirati talent within this 25,000 media professionals is something that I would like to see increase. Yes it’s developing, but there’s always a demand and we definitely need a local flavour in any segment of the media.

can grow their business in the region and also to service the surrounding region. Having these companies on the ground, working with and interacting with local companies has given the entire industry a platform for growth and the sharing of ideas and resources that has pushed the Dubai media industry forward as a whole. When I mentioned earlier how it was fifteen years ago, I am extremely proud that today we have over 2000 media companies working within the media cluster. Each city now within the Media Cluster is catering for a different part of the industry. That development has resulted in the pool of talent, even in the media outcome, the volume and the quality.

I come from an industry background working in TV and print previously. Today as I work on the corporate side, I think it’s interesting to understand the challenges that media companies face on a day to day basis. Because I understand their challenges, it helps me to guide the Tecom offering to develop solutions for the tenants.

We have so many magazines, online platforms, TV stations. The quality, because of the interaction that was created through Media City and the network provided, has added value to all the production happening in Dubai and given the results a unique, individual feel.”

My main passion is talent. We want to find opportunities for young graduates to provide internships and opportunities for these people to break into the industry.

Log onto infive.ae for more information about In5 Media.

Because of my network within the media companies, this is something I personally take a big interest in working on these opportunities. I love it when a studio reaches out for help for a certain project, and I personally like to help to bring things together. One important aspect is that we have also allowed many international companies to have a location where they

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You have to be constantly at your best. You have to be on peak performance. Working hard and doing great work is an every day struggle


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Ciaran Bonass|EXEXUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, HAVAS WORLDWIDE Photography by Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio

Who are you? I am many things on any given day. I see myself as a creative thinker, a problem solver, an artist, a maker, a writer, a husband, a father. How long have you been in Dubai? Just over two years. What brought you here? As a family we were looking for a change of scenery. As much as we love Ireland it was time for a new adventure. Havas Digital approached me with an excellent role to lead their creative department. It was perfect timing and an exciting opportunity for me to go back to a pure digital environment in one of the regions leading and growing digital agencies. Now that you’re here, what is it that you are here to do? I have a much larger remit now than I did when I first arrived. It’s still aligned with business growth, fostering talent and creative excellence, but as ECD I have a greater opportunity for impact. I’m really focused on shaping and growing the agencies creative output. My base purpose is to instil and cultivate a passionate creative culture. Mentoring and building a large multi-skilled creative team is key. There are long-term goals, but as an immediate objective we have a chance to build something unique. To effect change. I couldn’t think of a more fulfilling challenge. What have been the top three milestones during your time in Dubai? Helping move the Havas Digital creative team from a pure tech building team to an idea based, campaign driven agency. Following this, integrating the Havas Digital creative team in to Havas Worldwide to help build our full service creative department with a unified approach to ideation, and finally, being appointed Executive Creative Director at the start of this year. However, as strange as it may sound I don’t think these are major milestones. I feel these are part of a process for something bigger. I genuinely feel the best is still yet to come. How do you balance expectations with reality? As a creative you need to invest in your work. So with this comes personal attachment. You should only be presenting work that you are proud of. It should be the best work you have ever done and the right work for that brief. Mediocrity can’t exist in what we do. But the reality is you don’t always win. Sometimes the idea’s not right. The reality can be you’ve missed the mark. You can feel personally judged. This is where we are supposed to learn. But we should never be disheartened. You have to be

fearless. You have to continue on believing in your work. Sum up your experience of the Middle East in 3 words: Completely Life Changing. What brings a smile to your face? There’s a moment when an idea just lands. When the insight, business objective and idea align. This is an infectious joyous moment that makes me smile. I honestly get excited when I hear or see a great idea manifest itself as if by chance from nothing. What changes do you see happening in the creative industries in the next 12 months? It’s less about predicting and more about what we have to do. The advertising industry is pitched as a fast moving beast, but in reality it can be a slow moving giant. What we need to change is micro. We need to move to real content. Content that matters to our audience. We need to look at producers like Shane Smith (vice) and how they approach influencer-based branded content. We need to keep social social and advertising about advertising. Our audience gets which is which. We shouldn’t pretend one is the other. Our younger millennial consumers don’t own TVs. They watch 2hrs of vine and swipe their way through hours of branded social content a night. Skip buttons and clicks are irrelevant to them. How we address this will shape the industry. How do these changes make you feel? Really excited. The rise of content and social is going to transform what we do. At Havas we have built an exceptionally strong integrated offering that places social and digital in to our full service agency. When I look at the agency we have built I see nothing but positivity. Are these changes only relevant to the Middle East? No. We are defined by human behaviour regardless of territory. This is a globally led, generational behavioural shift to how we view advertising. I think it may possibly take longer to transform in to something tangible over here. But as a region we are in a great position to set change. What challenges do careers in creative industries pose? Our industry is competitive. You have to be constantly at your best. You have to be on peak performance. Working hard and doing great work is an every day struggle. If you are not doing this you are just cheating yourself. So it’s challenging to keep focused and strong. Selling great work can be as hard as creating it. Getting your peers to believe in your idea. Getting a client to buy it. Getting it produced. These are daily struggles and challenges we face.

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We should never feel safe in what we are doing. Safe is a terrible word in our industry.

How do you cope with these challenges? You embrace them. I’m happiest when running around the agency. People ask me all the time where I get my energy and how I’m not burnt out. To be honest I go home at the end of each day totally exhausted. But that’s good. I give my all each day. I invest in my work physically and mentally. It can be exhausting but that’s what I love. When you see a team motivated, an idea evolving or great work being produced - it’s all worth it. Are these the same challenges that you experienced abroad? Absolutely. There are always different regional traits that cause environmental change but holistically as an industry I think every agency faces this. How do you see the Middle East creative environment working within a global context? Regarding great work and awards it’s up there with the best. Some of the most award agencies reside here. We set standards in many ways and the talent here is very strong here. What are our strengths and weaknesses? We are surrounded by art, music, fashion and tech. But it doesn’t feel like it’s on our doorstep. I’d love to see a greater creative community, one that exists outside of our industry walls. I’d like to feel what’s going on in the city more. But the strength is in our youthfulness. The region is vibrant and has a huge appetite to lead. There is a huge openness to supporting growth and its entrepreneurial spirit is infectious.

but I know when to push and people clearly know when the balance shifts.

How important is your comfort zone to you? There’s no comfort zone. If I’m not doing something What is the most important lesson you have learned in that excites or scares me I’m not being creative enough. We should never feel safe in what we are doing. Safe is a your career? terrible word in our industry. You have to love what you do. It’s as simple as that. Why did you choose a career in advertising? My career evolved in to an advertising one. But my path here has always been about creating, making, storytelling or a visual communication of some sort. I’m originally classically trained in animation. I moved in to digital production quiet early. It was 2000, 16 years ago, and I had carved out a specialty in Ireland for producing flash animated websites. A year or two later I was picked up by DoubleClick Int, the founders of online advertising, to help grow their creative service. It was here I fell in love with the idea of advertising. The years that followed, working in agencies cemented this, and I honestly can’t think of doing anything else now. I think we are very lucky to work in this industry.

How do you motivate your team? I honestly believe if you are a good creative you need little motivation. You should want to work and be the best you can. I see this job as a preoccupation not an occupation. If you don’t want to always create, always make, always search for the best idea then they are fooling yourself and diluting the talent you have. I think when a team understands it’s in their hands to be the best they can it creates ownership and responsibility to do great work. Work that matters to them. It inspires creative excellence.

What is the most awesome pitch you’ve worked on in the last 12 months? There is one. But at the time of writing this I cant say what the brand is. It’s not an obvious commercial brand but it’s an amazing global brand with big creative potential. Was there a pivotal moment in your career? The shift from Art Director to Creative Director was The pitch process was excellent. We had the usual late a big one. As mentioned I didn’t start my career off in nights but the energy on it was fantastic and showed. I advertising. So it was a significant moment. I think as an love pitching – it’s one of my favourite parts of the job. But advertising creative this is the first big step you take in this one fell naturally (with a lot of hard work) your career that defines change. This move really made What will make you feel like you’ve ‘made it’? me realise I had more to give, and there was a lot more I don’t think I want to ever feel like I’ve made it. I like being to do. restless. I like feeling there is always more to do, more to have. How much fun do you have every day? I take a very natural approach in the office. Humour can be a great cultivator of ideas and can create a great culture. I Follow @ciarsbo think my Irish sense of humour goes down well - but it’s always about balance. I’m approachable, I’ll have a laugh

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Amanda Navai

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Photography by Marvin Caibal at Capital D Studio Interview by Meredith Damouni Make Up by Samira Olfat for Max Factor Academy

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After 6 years in business, Amanda Navai has shown that a true entrepreneurial spirit has paved her success in having a fashion start up from Dubai.

Amanda got the idea for her business when she was working as a Brand Manager for the Chalhoub Group, introducing brands into the region and designing their pathway for success. The idea for her business remarkably however was not from an inspiration of being an accessories designer but rather her ambition to be an entrepreneur. The concept of the product was secondary, as she drew from her own experiences and interests to find a niche. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur - I never knew what kind, but I always knew this would be my path. My first idea was a small coffee shop selling really great panini, so I went to a conference with the founder of Coffee Republic, in the UK. She is now a celebrated motivational speaker and in her speech she said people are always scared about starting their business because they feel like they don’t have a unique idea.” What became clearer through this speech to Amanda was that being an entrepreneur was not about having a unique idea but more about finding something in the market that was working and creating a brand that was better.

as a designer that has more of an ‘artistic position’, her metamorphosis is the result of her heritage. “I have an Iranian side which is very flamboyant and wants to be noticed, however I also have a Swedish side which is very practical with clean lines. Every season I have a very practical bag that is a real go to. Last season I have bag that has a secret pouch so you can put your shoes inside without being noticed so you can go from flats to heels with ease. This season I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone with this triangular design which is the most artistic piece I have created so far and is inspired by Iranian artist, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.” Although she adds without taking a breath, “even in this creation you can still fit many things inside, and I made sure it fits two iPhones, keys and a cord holder .” As an entrepreneur, Amanda’s interest in functional design is at the base of her brand and she is clear about her position on this and the commercial reality of being a designer.”Whenever people referred to me in the past as an artist, I need felt comfortable with that. I believe that a true artist creates without any impulse to sell and are purely driven by their inspiration to create. For me, even when creating something more on the artistic like this season, I still considered the width and the commercial viability. Although I am becoming more comfortable with considering myself as an artist, I think this collection is a real breakthrough in terms of matching my business and artistic sides.”

The second piece of advice was “do what you know best.” To Amanda this was simple, “I had always been obsessed with shoes and bags and interested in exotic leather. I realised that there was no affordable exotic leather brand for girls in fashion who wanted to have exotic skin bags and accessories but just had regular salaries. I started doing research in the market to find suppliers for exotic skins. Today there are many similar brands but this was As a designer coming from Dubai, Amanda wants to take event years ago and it was a different time.” Amanda started ordering her first skins from an Asian the brand out of the Middle East. “my focus for next season supplier online and then flew to factories to discuss is to take the brand internationally. Honestly I have done production. “I remember taking all my skins to a friends some previous trade shows in Europe and then I realised house who was questioning me and I told her - you wait, that the competition was very strong and that earlier in my career perhaps I was not ready. I went back to my own this is going to become a bag.” And she was right. home and started focusing on quality and detail to really Another spark of genius from Amanda was her reversible perfect my product. Now I do everything myself - I choose bag. Getting the idea from a pair of reversible jeans she had my own skins, I do my own quality control and make bought in Europe, Amanda’s design for her first line honed sure that all the fixtures. I worked more on the product in on the target market of the accessible exotic skin bag to ensure that it was really perfect and stood up against with the added value of a reversible design. Her first line some of the world’s best brands and last season I did a of hand bags came in shades that would take the wearer show at Saatchi Gallery in London. Now I am secure with from day to night with ease - essentially two snakeskin my product that it can really stand up against seasoned bags in one - a solution that was cost effective, suitable for designers and shine out to buyers.” travel and appealed to the fashion conscious influencer who worked in fashion, PR or editorial. “I wanted to create Her steps towards a successful brand has also been shaped a bag that was reversible, didn’t take much space in a by her work history. “Having working in a big fashion group, I launch many unknown brands to the Middle East. suitcase and still fashionable.” I could see what works and what doesn’t work. At the end, Referring to herself today as moving towards a position which gives me a lot of comfort, is that there is a receipt

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to success. firstly, what you create should not be extremely unique in the sense that is becomes unaccessible to the average consumer. I always include a few unique pieces that are my babies that I like to show to the press and are my babies. Most people are looking for a bag that they can use every day. You cannot have a completely unique piece that then becomes something that cannot be regularly used. This past and the experience of working on that level gave me so much. You really have to think of the average person out there, to only the most fashionable people out there, you need to understand what the masses like. The more you can stand outside of yourself and understand what a wider community would like and would buy.” Today Amanda Navai has one of the fastest moving accessories brands stocked in both Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales, which in itself is a huge feat, and she is well known as one of the leading designers launched from Dubai. I ask her if she feels she is at a point in her career that she could be a mentor to a young designer. “I think I could mentor other people at this point. The experience I had a Chalhoub Group was very key to me. When I started with them it was with their latest subsidiaries right at the beginning so I was a part of all the strategies with the CFO and a small team who set up the division. Had I started with them two years later, I would not have gained any of that experience as I would have walked into a division that was already set up and I would have just been going through the motions. I learned how to negotiate, legal terms and so many important point that helped me so much. The second part was the contact that I hd already with press and the contact with marketing and media. As I had been a Brand Manager and this was an incredible training for me. “I love to learn about successful people all the time and there are a few points that are always key when you learn about their stories. One is you can never give up. Nothing is easy and keep going. One mistake is that many people give up with things are difficult. For me it’s just a matter of time of when things will happen - they will happen. I genuinely think that more you do something and being ready to fail and keep going. Here’s an example - it took me 11 seasons to get into Harvey Nichols. Every time I would wonder why I was not getting in there. Every time it was a ‘no’ even thought I was a best seller at Bloomingdales. But I would take that disappointment back each season and go back trying to understand why I was not getting my product through and assess how I could work differently to get my product through. Also I never let my ego get in the way - I focus on the bigger picture. Also I believe luck is also important. For examples, had a started my brand two years later, I would not have had the success I have had. I sent my cookbooks and the buyer just happened to be looking for a fuchsia and yellow brand that used python - all of a sudden there I was serving this to her. Two years later there were so many similar brands that I would have had to compete with so it would not have been as easy.” “In three years I want to be in the US market and my goal is to be stocked at Bergdorf Goodman. It’s all I think about from morning to night. You have to work for your gaols so hard - you have to live it and breathe it. For me this step is the beginning of all my next steps.”

Follow @amandanavai

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BACKSTAGE We discover the SS16 collection of Dubai-based designer, Rami Al Ali as he shows for the ninth consecutive time in Paris at Le Meurice.

Photography by Gilbert Lopez

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“For this season’s collection, I was inspired by two opposing cultures, both from different eras and combined them together to create a synthesis of historical art. I was mesmerised by the iconic decorative Moorish artistry and experimented with the historic accents with beautiful masquerade silhouettes to create something special.” Rami Al Ali D-journal 12 | Mar/Apr 2016 | 19

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Deep Dark Photographer - Dirk Bader at D the Agency

Model- Lilia P. at Louisa Models Sabina Heberie at Phoenix Agency

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Burberry X Adele Adele is gracing the stage this year in a stunning custom black silk gown with floral hand-embroidered sequins designed by Christopher Bailey, the Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer. Worn on the opening night and for the 100 shows of the tour, this design is a fashion highlight of the show and a stunning collaboration. Christopher Bailey said “It is a huge privilege to work with Adele. She is an incredible artist who I admire enormously for her approach to life, her sense of fun, her innate style and her massively powerful and moving voice and performance.”

For more information on the tour visit adele.com

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Secret Timepiece The clever designers at Chaumet are nothing short of brilliant when it comes to the cut of their diamonds but now they stun us again with their fine jewellery timepieces. The Hortensia Voie Lactee is a watch within a beautiful piece of jewellery, for the subtle woman who avoids checking the time, preferring to instead enjoy every minute of the party.

Loubi on Holiday Christian Louboutin has never been shy of colour and his new collection inspired by Hawaii is nothing short of an explosion of pattern and vibrant hues. Covering a full collection of products for men, women and beauty we are loving the loud prints mixed with his signature studs.

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New Villa Lyali

Per Aquum Desert Palm One we’ve been waiting for is the new opening of the lyali villa at per aquum desert palm. Just unveiled, the newly refurbished key suite of the hotel is it’s new jewel and the most beautiful place to unwind and enjoy the surroundings of the luscious polo fields. The three-bedroom 845 sq m villa hides amongst tall palm trees in the tranquillity of desert palm’s lush estate. The property’s original award-winning designer isabelle miaja brings her artistry to the new lyali does not disappoint, evoking the same arabian avant-garde aesthetic and

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continuing to set desert palm apart as a unique boutique hotel property in the middle east.

To book your lyali experience, call +971 4 602 9302 or log onto peraquum.Com



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Zelda Cheatle Head Curator, Dubai Photo Exhibition

Who are you? audience to enjoy. There are 18 separate exhibits under I am an international curator of photography, based in this one umbrella, and each will have 20th century work London but working across many countries. that will indicate how the evolving of the medium is often a digital response in the 21st century. How did you become an ‘expert in photography’? I studied photography to BA Hons degree level and further at Goldsmiths College before working in the Photogra- How do you manage working across different countries? phers Gallery during the 1980s. During this time I met the It is a great pleasure to work with all the different regions great and the good of the photography world, and learned of the world. With this project, I have been working very a great deal from the many, many international exhib- long days since August as the time zones are right across itors and visitors to the gallery. It was during the 1980s the clock! Nearly everybody involved can speak English, that photography became established as a fine art. 1989 or can read English enough to get by – and the great thing was an important year as it marked 150 years from the dis- about Photography is that it communicates in every lancovery of photography by Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre. guage. It was also an important year for me, personally, as from 1989 I had my own gallery in central London, dedicated to Who are the most influential artists whose work will be shown the medium of photography. I closed it in 2005 in order to in this exhibition, and why do you feel they are so influential? collect for a Fund of Photography. Pictures from that col- There are many many great and special photographers in lection were exhibited worldwide. Since 2012 I have been this show – to pick two at random: curating exhibitions both in the UK and overseas. Dorothea Lange photographed in the 1930s when America was in the Great Depression. The photograph of the MiWhat has been the most exciting part of putting together the grant Mother – which will be in the USA exhibit - moved Dubai Photo Exhibition? so many people. The mother had 5 children, was utterly Working with really diverse and interesting curators, penniless and only 32 years old – she looks 92. Because whose energy and enthusiasm for this pioneering exhi- of that picture, the plight of the poverty-stricken came bition has made the whole undertaking worthwhile. The to the attention of all America – and it began to change fascinating interpretation by each of how to best repre- for the better. That picture is synonymous with the powsent their country; how they have applied their knowledge er of an image. The photographer was a feisty, talented of the artists’ work and woven sometimes a narrative, and fearless woman. So that is one great picture to have in sometime a portrait of their region. the show. The most unexpected moment so far? I visited Dubai for the first time to see the site of the exhibition and meet many of the HIPA team, who producing Dubai Photo Exhibition. I knew Dubai only through pictures, it was indeed unexpected! It is architecturally quite awe-inspiring! I have found Arab hospitality to be most generous.

Another photographer/artist who has contributed so much to the history of his country is August Sander. He crossed Germany between the wars and photographed all the people he came across – not just the rich and bourgeoisie – but the cook, the circus performer, the actor, the young men on the way to a local dance. These clear and timeless works bear testament to a dedication of purpose. During the Second World War, most of Sander’s subjects As a curator, how much is digital technology influencing the would have died. This is an extraordinary tribute not just way you work if at all? to German life but to all people who recognize the simDigital technology of course is a very integral part of this plicity and purity with which these portrait were made. exhibition – but there are many analogue prints for the

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Salt 37 by Murray Fredericks

Amil by Cristobal Hara

This is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to what East but perhaps anywhere, ever! Dubai Photo Exhibition will have on offer- we are so honoured to have such important works all brought together. What unique points with regards to the actual curation of the show are present? What kind of message are you trying to deliver with the cura- The curating is unique to each country/region exhibtion of this exhibition? it within the greater exhibition – for example, the UK There really isn’t a ‘message’. It is 18 exhibits under one exhibition is by Martin Barnes, who is the Senior Curator roof, which will each show the most interesting and best at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. He has chosen photography from their regions, from the most interest- ‘the sublime’ to be the theme of his chosen works. He has ing curators across the globe. Overall, with such a diverse likened Dubai and its rapid growth to UK during the Inrange of works from so many different places, overall you dustrial Revolution, and his curation makes a fascinating could say the curation comes together to present a global journey from 1905 to 2016. perspective on photography. What have been the challenges bringing together so many How does this show offer a unique platform for this message? precious pieces of work? As far as I know, this is the first museum-calibre exhiThe logistics of bringing over 700 works to Dubai has bition to bring this number of countries, this number certainly been a very big challenge. HIPA and WPO, who of photographs, into one event – certainly in the Middle are supporting on this project, have worked very hard –

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Fratel Power Station by Edgar Martins

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certainly everybody has worked very hard, curators and photographers as well, to achieve this. It has been a big undertaking! How did you make the final cut of images that would be in the show? That really sorts itself out as you go along – it’s not so hard. Sometimes, to have to cut out an artist is agonizing, but by and large the curators and I have worked together quite well at making the tough decisions. What are you working on next? Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House in April – approximately 500 photographs, so less than Dubai Photo Exhibition. How do you feel about the iPhone camera? It’s everybody’s best friend! Do you favour film over digital photography? They are such different things, it’s down to personal taste really. I am a curator, not a photographer, so I can’t weigh in myself- but some artists only use film, only print themselves…it’s part of their art form. Some galleries only exhibit or show work from film. But other contemporary galleries are happy to work with digital prints. I think it’s how you work, and what you make that are important, not the tools you use. How has social media impacted your point of view on the role of photographer in art? I think Instagram etc is great- it’s all very good that visual imagery has another voice, and multiple ways and platforms to disseminate. It’s there and available, for as much or as little time you wish to spend on it. Which young photographers have caught your eye recently? Talking of social media, I really like Ot Lylie’s posts. I have never met her, but her humour and imagery are very interesting. I see many young photographers’ work and enjoy the vitality and vibrancy of many – it’s a great medium. Which website do you visit regularly? Ha ha – on almost a daily basis, the TFL website- Transport for London! Many others – British Photographic History, British Journal of Photography, lots of galleries, Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum… What is your instagram handle? I think it’s @ZELDACHEATLE? I rarely post on Instagram myself! My website is www.zeldacheatle.com The dubai photo exhibition organised by HIPA runs from 16th to 19th march at the Dubai Design District. www.dubaiphotoexhibition.ae

by Frank van der Salm

D-journal 12 | Mar/Apr 2016 | 41

Snapchat Killed the Instagram Star By Marriam Mossalli Snapchat is kind of like presidential candidate Donald Trump—you either hate him; or you hate him but still find yourself engrossed every time he’s on your screen. Either way, it’s a guilty pleasure that many of us don’t want to admit to; but avidly participate in—much like the newest social media craze to become a trend in the region: Snapchat. Snapchat, a video messaging application created by Evan Spiegal and Bobby Murphy back in 2011, didn’t really catch on in Middle East until about 2015; when the app reported users went from 2 billion videos and pictures a day in May, to over 6 billion by the end of November, according to TechCrunch. This rapid growth could be seen—albeit for only 10 seconds at a time; throughout the GCC, where many fashion and beauty influencers began trading in their photoshopped instagram posts for grainy, heavily filtered Snapchat stories. Now, in 2016, we’re at 7 billion daily video views and climbing. Today, we see style bloggers who have given up on their dotcoms for the instant interaction with followers on Snap; and twitter mega-stars swapping their handles for Snap codes. But what does this all mean in a region that is almost homogeneously conservative to be so openly exposed for all the world to see? Basically, more views. The same way we are intrigued by the lives of reality stars (well, some of us at least, I’m not trying to keep up with anyone!); the world is enamored with the lives of the enigmatic Arab, especially other Arabs, who have traditionally been veiled not by a scarf but by the societal decorum; the allure is obvious. In the UAE with a population of 9.21 million people, more than half (5.6 million) are active mobile social users. Sixty-one percent of the population is on their phones either snapping or tweeting or posting; with Snapchat usage increasing exponentially. The same goes for the biggest nation in the GCC—Saudi Arabia. With a population of 31.85 million, over a third (10 million) spend about 3 hours a day on average “socializing” via their mobile devices, accordingly to reports from We Are Social SG. Yet the point of this article wasn’t to point out the avid usage of social media in the Middle East; that’s a given. Chances are you are reading this article from a link you saw on Facebook; and if you look up now; it’s almost a certainty that the people to the right and left of you are either browsing their Instagram feed, or taking Snap stories of themselves doing absolutely nothing. The question is why has Snapchat become the poison of choice over all these other self-indulgent vices for us to choose from? Perhaps it’s because this commercial-free, live stream peephole into our most private and intimate moments has become our reality TV? Perhaps it’s because while we love Joelle’s perfectly captured “behind-the-scenes” posts, we want to know what she’s like as a mother, as wife, as anything besides a celebrity TV presenter with flawless make-up? Niche Arabia conducted a focus group with 35 Saudi women, ages 18 to 29 and asked who they followed on Snapchat and why. While the names were familiar, the surprising conclusion was why these women followed those accounts— because it placed these fashion style icons in their domestic settings of the home, with their children, doing everyday, monotonous errands. Snapchat is our US Weekly or People magazines, it’s our TV, our What’s App messenger, our Periscope. And much like talking pictures marked the end of the silent movie star; Snapchat is killing the Instagram star. Perfectly positioned product placement, and photoshopped contoured faces are now being swapped for spontaneous monologues and real-life bloopers. But perhaps what is more relevant about the rise of Snapchat in the region is what it signifies: a need for more genuineness, more reality. The viewer is no longer affected by paid-for-posts, or forced product placement; they want the shampoo this fashionista actually uses, and with Snapchat that’s what they’ll get— until that is, brands and their marketeers catch on. The truth is in an age where everyone and their mother is an “influencer,” and collectively, everyone is a voyeur, Snapchat is the weapon of choice for the assassination of real life interaction and connectivity. It’s how we know whether you were there—because you can’t “repost” a front-row image on Snap as easily as you could on Instagram. It separates the real industry insiders with the people vying to get an invite inside. It’s our digital version of reality and it’s taking over.

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