We’ve spent the morning at More Café in the Mall of the Emirates, sipping caffè lattes and discussing our upcoming trip around the world for our NextWorld Storytelling project. “By the way,” says Anouk, “have you read the profile of Alia Abou Alwan, our new curator for The Gulf? I really can’t wait to meet her. I swear that with her experience and her network, she must know everyone in the region.” She pulls out her iPad and scrolls through Alia’s profile. “I don’t even know where to start…”
“How about at the beginning?” I venture.
Anouk gives me a glare and then smiles. “Ok so: born in Kuwait, lived in Iraq, studied in Lebanon, is now a UAE national, but also lived in London and worked consistently in international settings.”
“Which means she’s cosmopolitan and well travelled,” I say.
“Right,” says Anouk. “She started working at the age of 18 and by the time she was 21 she had been promoted to the position of Ladies’ Bank Manageress at the Commercial Bank of Dubai.”
“Which means she’s probably hard working and career-driven.”
“You wait,” says Anouk, “this is just the start: she also founded the first ladies club in Dubai and then worked in antiques and jewellery, even organizing Sotheby’s first auction in Dubai. And then she co-founded a hospitality and tourism consultancy with her husband, where she’s been the vice-chairman since 2001. It says she’s ‘a natural communicator and the perfect public relations personality’.”
“Ok, I see what you mean: she must have an amazing network, not to mention invaluable insights and experience in the region. Let’s see what she thinks of NextWorld Storytelling in The Gulf!”
Two days later, we meet Alia at Café Bateel in Dubai Mall. We’ve just ordered three mint teas, and Alia is telling us about her passion for figure skating and mono water-skiing. She was the first girl in Dubai to do that in the old days. It needed a lot of courage to wear a bathing suit in public, as we can imagine.
“Sorry, did you say skating?” I ask. “I thought that’s something we do in bitter cold Dutch winters, not here in Dubai!”
Alia laughs. “Well, you’re right that it’s maybe not the first thing you associate with Dubai, but I’ve always loved it. I was the first to skate on the ice of Dubai’s first ice-skating rink.”
“Really? That’s incredible,” says Anouk. “But then Dubai is pretty incredible in many ways: so culturally diverse and so full of surprises.”
“That’s part of what I love about it,” says Alia. “There are always new things to discover and new trends to watch, new places to go and new people to meet. It’s all happening here – Dubai attracts talent and visionaries.”
“Aha! That brings us to the question we discussed with you by email,” I say. “Would you be interested in joining our NextWorld Storytelling project as the curator for the Gulf?”
“I’d love to. I think the project has huge potential here in the Gulf. I’ve already made a list of potential people to approach, so when do you want me to start?”
Tags: Alia Abou Alwan, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator The gulf, coolbrands curator The gulf, Alia abou, meeting Alia Abou Alwan7 July,2013