Beena Soni   “I feel like I was born to do this. I can’t see myself in another business or any other field.’

One of the highlights of my visit to the 12th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition was meeting Beena Soni.

The creative and talented Beena, who began her career as a make-up artist in 1993, evolved into one of the most celebrated jalabiya designers in the Middle East.

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Her creative flair was always a source of inspiration to all her clients, she was often asked for advice on how best to put an ensemble together, which led to requests from her clients to design her own clothing line.

In an interview, Beena said: ‘I believe I took around 10-15 days to create 15 designs for my first client,’ Beena chuckles. ‘I think that was the fastest collection I’ve ever designed. My first client still remembers how fast I was”,

Impressed with her work, her first client remains loyal to her to-date . Word of mouth was the “magic wand” for Beena.

Her creativity combined with her fascination and love for fabrics and textures, propelled her to become one of the most sought after jalabiya designers in the Gulf region.

Giving up her job as a make-up artist, she threw her heart and soul into creating jalabiyas and now designs them for some of the Gulf’s most prominent women…from working on special projects for her elite clientele, ensuring they look their best throughout their social calendar, to creating entire ensembles for their business trips.

With over 35% of her clients coming from the Middle East, Beena decided to open her flagship store in one of the Gulf countries,

Passionate about her creations, she is not only involve in the creative process but also monitors their production all the way until final delivery.  It is this personal touch that has earned her a special place in the hearts of her clients.

After her success in other Gulf countries, Beena Soni now has her eyes set on Doha.

For more information on Beena’s Collection:





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Selina Farooqui with Winter Velvets

In January this year I interviewed Selina Farooqui and I have had the privilege of interviewing her again.

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Selina Farooqui launched her new collection for Fall/Winter 2017/18 this week,         “Winter Velvets ” features hues of blue, black, maroon and mauve velvets with pleats to drape the feminine silhouette.

UM: What was the inspiration for this collection?

SF: The inspiration was mainly trying to mix current season’s trends of pleats and velvets into an abaya and discovering how the pleated fabrics.

US: Tell us about the Fall/winter 2017/18- Winter Velvets Collection

SF: My collection for FW2017-18 is called “Winter Velvets”. It’s a small capsule collection of 27 abayas featuring this season’s trends of pleating and velvets. I have always loved the look of pleats so we worked on combining the idea of pleats, with the idea of doing velvet abayas for the cooler months coming up. We developed a custom pleating for the velvet that was super fine, so that the fabric would drape nicely. The end result was a collection of abayas with an architectural yet feminine shape.


US: What is the collection color palette for Fall?

SF: My color palette for the collection is jewel tone hues, maroon, plum, navy, mauve. I  wanted rich, deep colors that compliment winter.


US: Tell us about the fabrics and textures of this collection

SF: Velvet is the star of this collection. it’s not your typical heavy velvet, it’s very lightweight and ultra soft, making the abayas comfortable and easy to wear. The textures of course are the pleats, I am in love with pleats this season and will be carrying the pleats trend over to my summer 2018 collection.


US. What do you think makes SF so luxurious as a brand?

SF: I try to make my quality and finishing the best I can, inside and out. The fabrics, the colors, the embellishments are all carefully picked out and hand done. I like luxury that’s comfortable, and that’s hopefully what I have achieved with this “Winter Velvets Collection”

For more info on Selina Farooqui Collection:


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Know Your Thread Count with “House of Linen”

There are very few things in life that make long days worth it. Among my favourites, you’ll find:

  • a good cuppa tea- even on hot days
  • a satisfying run or a quiet walk along the beach, to let off some steam
  • a therapeutic late afternoon outride on horseback
  • retiring at the end of the night, under some freshly-changed sheets after a hot shower

Few of my favourites come close to the last one. Who can argue with the idea of climbing into bed at night or for your afternoon siesta, almost melting away under a duvet, crisp, lighter than air, which magically wraps around you so that you wake up never wanting to leave the comfort of the covers?

It’s true what they say-
“A girl and her bed on Sundays are an endless love affair.”



Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than this, “House of Linen” opened its doors to us this month with notes and sound of a piano. . On the ground floor in Lagoona Mall, “House of Linen” hosts collections of all things wonderful, from bedroom to bathroom, with enough accessories to spruce up your space, for all ages.


Among the names housed here, we find Mirabel Slabbinck,Evelyn Prelonge and Parfum de Berger.

Mirabel Slabbinck is well-known for carrying the legacy of over one hundred years of enchanting home linens. It would come as no surprise then, for her work to be featured here. Made of 100% satin combed Egyptian cotton with up to a 600 thread count, each piece has that luxe feeling that helps us sleep just that much better at night! Slabbinck is also a preferred specialist when it comes to bespoke initiatives tailored for yachts, aircrafts, chalets and jets- because why not?!
Fun fact: you can create your own custom pieces on her website-

Evelyn Prélonge is also a familiar name when it comes to fabulous French faux. With 20 years of Haute Couture experience, the Evelyn-empire has now come up with a Home Couture collection, adding that touch of posh to your living space, softening solid colours and rigid lines. Furry collectables range from throws and pillows, to funky accessories like beanies, bags and stoles (


The “cherry on top” comes in the form of Lampe Burger Paris’ range called, “Parfum Berger”. Each gorgeous fragrance is carefully conjured over 18 months. You’ll discover elegant diffuser bouquets and scented florals on trays. Pretty scents always get me very excited and I can’t wait to get home and let the scents travel to every corner of my home. The online site also allows you to browse all their products by either product type, or collection (  For those who spend a lot of time on the road, they even offer car sprays- I’d probably need a few of those…


Winter has finally come. This is the perfect excuse to warm up your home with the exquisite items at “House of Linen”.

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The only question that’s left to ask is, “What are you waiting for?”


House Of Linen at Lagoona Mall – Doha


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ManjuLakhsmi – “Dream, Believe and It Will Happen!!

Manjulakshmi – a designer who dreams big.  Dreams of participating in the New York Fashion Week to the creation of a unique sustainable textile material, it all became her reality.  Having faith in the adage “Dream, believe and it will happen”, some of them have come true while others are still “work in progress”.

As the eldest of 3 siblings, she became the subject of her mum’s design fantasies, with a wardrobe of unique clothing. Not surprising, that her mother has been the source of her inspiration, to the extent of  incorporating her name (Gils) into her brand.

Manjulakshmi was a dancer in her younger days, designing and making costumes for herself due to the lack of designers at that point in time.  As she progressed, she delved into choreography and working on dramas as well. She started designing for herself in her 5th or 6th grade.  She was grateful that she was in Qatar as it allowed her the freedom to design and wear without being openly criticized, contrary to her experience in other countries especially when she dresses differently from others around her.  Her sister used to be her model as she was very willing to try out her outfits.   To her father delight Manjulakshmi was accepted at the engineering and medical faculties, however Manjulakhshmi opted for the creative, her father encouraged and supported her, taking her to Souk Waqif to choose fabrics and work with tailors. More significantly, he was agreeable for her to enroll in a recently introduced fashion design course, her final year project was to undertake research on natural textile materials and sustainable designs, this project exposed her to a wider world of the textile industry and receiving an invitation by the French Government to attend a French university.  Upon her return to Qatar, she joined VCU and never looked back since. It was at VCU, where she was commissioned  to design a wedding dress for a member of the royal family, themed “Garden of Love” , this dress most certainly became a labour of love, encrusted with gem stones and hand embroidery, due to the exclusive and confidential nature of the project, she was unable to take photos of her own creations.

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Her initial interest was bridal couture design and evening wear as she was fascinated with handiwork, details and intricate patterns, 2014 was the breakthrough event in 2014 when she showcased her bridal and evening wear couture collection at the 7th International Fashion Show and Wedding Exhibition, no sooner did she learn that there was a bigger market for comfortable and practical clothing, giving her the opportunity to be creative while making it work for business sustainability, jellabiyas and abayas provided her with the necessary inspiration.  A designing skills opened the doors to yet another opportunity, providing designing consultation for women who are unable to attend design courses or classes and assisting them to develop their design ideas.

Her research into fabrics exposed her to the use of silk and linens for medical purposes, to experience for herself how these materials would react to its use in fashion design, she virtually wore these materials herself for a whole year with surprising results.  On one festive occasion, her silk dress caught fire but, as silk is not a very flammable material, it practically saved her life.  She was, therefore, convinced to use silk in her designs.

Later in 2014, during the cancer awareness month in 2014, she started the “Think Pink, Wear Green” movement where pink represents health and green means wearing natural fabrics.  Through the movement, supporters make a promise to use natural fabric at least once a week.  Much to her surprise, designers and students supported the movement by designing clothes made of linen fabric. Linen, unlike polyester, adapts to the weather making it suitable both for winter and summer especially in the desert climate of the Middle East.

Through research she also discovered that linen provides comfort for cancer patients as it keeps the patient’s body temperature  at an optimum whilst undergoing chemotherapy.

Manjulakshmi’s favourite fabric is linen.  For her, it is the perfect material regardless of the wrinkling quality.  It is also becoming more popular in the Middle East although she now finds what she termed as “artificial” linens being used.  Her biggest challenge, however, remains in finding  comfortable fabrics which can be used for any occasion.


“designing is an art.  A fashion designer needs to be an engineer to know about textiles, an artist to draw, have the skills to be a master cutter and have a good business sense to market the designs and creations.”

Her inspiration comes from her journey and surroundings

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Her “Batulla” inspired design actually came from her childhood days.

In her bridal collection, for example, she tries to bring out the beauty of the feminine body, bringing the inner beauty to the outside.   Not surprisingly, she emphasizes on draping and making it more luxurious by adding handiwork.

Her new inspiration comes from the palm leaf and so she added pleats as a reflection of the palm leaf.

Periodically, her design creations are showcased for exhibitions purposes only.

“ abayas have and will always be timeless classics.”  It is comfortable to wear and suitable for any occasion.  New York Fashion week has definitely made the abaya more accessible and appealing , as we see the abaya  featured in subsequent fashion week stories.

Creative style

Manjulakshmi’s creative style is an expression of herself – She designs based on her own visualization of herself and what she would personally like to wear for the occasion.


organic fabrics – the use of linen, silk and wool (although not popular in the Middle East due to the weather conditions).

Pure silk is used in most of her bridal -Contrary to popular belief, silk is not high maintenance.  (She uses normal hair shampoo and conditioner to maintain it! )

2017, fashion trend is focus on comfort, loose, stripes and sporty colours – pink and electric blue being the accent colours

Future plans

Further research is in her plans which means taking a break for University with a view to create the “ideal fabric”

With the surge of such a large designing community and so many upcoming talented designers her aim is to establish a sustainable designing community in Qatar

I had the privilege to be on the set of her latest fashion shoot at Al Shaqab., bringing the retro look into her Aadima collection.

Advice to Young Designers

Her advice to young designers is – “you don’t need a university degree to be a designer.  You just need to have creative thoughts and be able to bring it to life.  It is something related to art.  strive to be different, be original ; lean and apply new techniques; understand the body to know the fit.

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For more information on Manjulakshmi:



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Fifty One East hosts Marchesa Fashion Show -Marchesa’s dresses are most certainly made for the fantastic side of life. 

The lineup was rife with super feminine gowns and cocktail dresses fit for life’s most romantic fairy tale moments .

Fluffy tulle gowns covered in hand-dyed organza in pink, lilac and burgundy, oh-so precious frocks with saccharine cherry blossom embroideries and wisteria vines, strands of pearls, crystals piled on top f of sheer tulle bodice, mimicking the effect of layering a tangle of necklaces over bare skin.





And the romance continued with Marchesa’s 2018 bridal Collection




3D florals continued to dominate her 2018 bridal collection – playful bows on the sleves and voluminous skirts


Romantic, feminine and with a fair bit of drama – quintessentially Marchesa

Marchesa collection available at Fifty One East


Tel: +97444361111

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Fifty One East Bridal Lounge

Saturday, November 11th 2017, saw Naeem Khan grace the opening of the brand new Fifty One East Bridal Lounge at the Lagoona Mall.


A unique concept combined with a dedicated dream team, aims to creates a seamless and delightful experience resulting in the most memorable moments for any bride.

From veils and headpieces to gloves and fabulous footwear, brides will find endless inspiration in their spacious and sophisticated lounge.

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The Bridal lounge plans every aspect of the wedding day with access to a list of preferred partners that provide a spectrum of options including the venue, music, stationery, designers, flowers, jewelry, bridal party attire, caterers, makeup artist, photographers and much more to help create a dream wedding.

Invited guests were treated to the iconic designer’s Spring/Summer 2018 Ready to wear Collection .

Never one for subtlety – the catwalk was transformed into an almost glacial tunnel of flowers, the models dramatic look with ornate nose, ear piercings and flower crowns, Khan’s Spring/Summer 2018 beautifully captured the essence of exotic opulence across a selection of evening looks.


A collection inspired by none other than the famous prima ballerina of the late 19th century, Anna Pavlova, combined with a tropical theme, the result was magnificent colours varying from white, black, lemon, aquamarine, pastel pink, silver, mauve to tangerine.

The dazzling beaded tea dresses with sequins and carefully crafted embroidery reminiscent of the colours of the sea and sunset immediately transported you to romantic destinations.

With great anticipation, guests waited for Khan’s bridal collection, and it was so worth the excitement…

Imagine a geometric lace wedding gown with thick tiers of white fringe and matching fringe veil… it is safe to say that Khan is a true romantic at heart!



Every year,  Fifty One East Bridal Lounge will feature several exciting bridal trunk shows that offer a glimpse of stunning and unique styles. Designers will be in attendance to debut their wedding and accessory collections with a fashion show, this is a great opportunity for future brides to interact with the designers.

For more information regarding the Fifty One East Bridal Lounge


Telephone: +974 44 335588.
Email ID:



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The 12th edition of Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition declared a success by all participants.

With a record of year-on-year increase, making it Qatar’s biggest platform for contemporary Arabian fashion creations, attracting more than 9000 visitors throughout it’s 5-day event.

The event displayed the latest collection of abayas, kaftans, jalabiyas, evening gowns, veils and other accessories, including for the first-time perfume and make-up.


Bringing together fashion enthusiasts, influencers, families and aspiring designers, this year saw the largest number of established and emerging Qatari designers – 65% of exhibitors hailing from Qatar.

Beyond the unique shopping experience, Heya’s packed schedule of 11 workshops, 8 forums and 21 show stopping fashion shows, drew huge crowds seeking knowledge, guidance and inspiration.

New partnerships with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQ) and Qatar Incubation Center (QBIC), provided visitors with valuable expertise in everything related to the business of fashion, from marketing to finance and how to get the fashion business off the ground.

In addition, adding depth to this year’s programme were the collaborations with the Italian, Germany and Mexican Embassies to help nurture and develop local design talent.

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Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition was brought to visitors by Qatar Tourism Authority and delivered by partners Design Creationz.




The 5th Ajyal Youth Film Festival

It is that exciting time of the year for all the film lovers

The 5th Ajyal Youth Film Festival Presents a Record 103 Inspirational Films from 43 Countries including 10 MENA Premieres

The 5th Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, will showcase a compelling slate of 103 films from 43 countries that express the power of storytelling to transform minds, inspire the youth, stimulate discussions about real and relevant issues.

The six-day event is set to feature:

  • 36public screenings of the films
  • 18 screenings dedicated to the Ajyal jury,
  • interactive panel discussions
  • red carpet events
  • community-oriented activities that will delight all ages.


Ajyal 2017 will open with the Middle East premiere of The Breadwinner  (Canada/Ireland/ Luxembourg, 2017) by Nora Twomey and Executive Produced by Angelina Jolie.


An animated Afghan tale, based on the bestselling novel by Deborah Ellis – Paravana, a strong willed and determined 11 year old girl who resorts to creative means in order to work and support her mother and sister after her father’s unjustly arrest.


  • The programme includes 20 Features and 83 shorts; 55 of them from the Arab World – 52 by women filmmakers


  • Festival to world premiere next completed projects from the Qatari Film Fund recipients


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Ajyal 2017 will also celebrate the illustrious career of Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulredha, who passed away earlier this year, with an honourary award, and shines a spotlight on Kuwaiti cinematic voices with a special ‘Made in Kuwait’ section featuring an eclectic and moving selection of short films.


  • Jury Highlights

With the Ajyal competition Jury comprising over 550 jurors  from more than 45 countries including 29 international jurors from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the jury will watch and analyse this incredible programme of films under three competitive categories – Mohad, Hilal and Bader, followed by events with panel of discussions , workshops and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.


Announcing the line-up, Fatma Al Remaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said: “Films have the unique power to transcend borders. They expand our horizons, nourish our souls, reinvigorate our intellect and enable us to form meaningful, lasting human bonds. Above all, films provide a communality across all divides, and the stories they present provide us with a shared experience. This transformational power of cinema inspired the inception of Ajyal Youth Film Festival five years ago.

Save the dates: November 29th to December 4th

Venue  Katara  Cultural Village

Tickets for the 5th Ajyal Youth Film Festival are available for purchase from November 15 for QR25 for general screenings online at


from Ajyal FNAC Ticket Outlet at FNAC (Doha Festival City).

From November 18 tickets are available for purchase from the Ajyal Katara Box Office in Katara Building 12.

For up-to-date information or more details on the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, please visit



Other highlights of Ajyal 2017 include the MENA premiere of Looking for Oum Kulthum from celebrated visual artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, Qatar premiere of Loving Vincent – the world’s first fully painted feature film, among others, along with world premieres of the next completed projects from the 2015 and 2016 Qatar Film Fund, Aisha Al-Jaidah’s 1001 Days and Hamida Issa’s Elevate respectively.

In a rich showcase of unique cinematic experiences, Ajyal 2017 will once again present an inclusive experience of Ajyal Award Winners – Nora Al Subai’s Al Johara and A.J.Althani’s Kashta to celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The special ‘trans-adapted’ screening is presented in collaboration with the Translation and Interpreting Institute of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad bin Khalifa University.

Ajyal 2017 also celebrates the evolving art form of animation that represents nearly half of the feature film line-up this year, with international titles including In This Corner of the World and Birds Like Us, transporting filmgoers into some of the most imaginative worlds to raise awareness about issues of deep concern.

An eclectic short programme will introduce hidden gems to the public for the very first time – 16 in the Made in Qatar section, which celebrates work by those who call Qatar home.

Together with 50 shorts from across the globe, film lovers will be immersed in this interesting and essential cinematic artform.



Ajyal 2017 will screen 25 films that are supported by the Doha Film Institute through its Grants programme, co-financing, Qatari Film Fund or projects mentored through its labs

And workshops. These include feature films: Loving Vincent, Looking for Oum Kulthum, Birds Like Us, Disappearance, Wallay, Liyana and House in the Fields.


About Ajyal Youth Film Festival

Ajyal is a festival of cinema for the community, for all generations. At the core of this celebration are young people from Qatar and around the world, who come together in a creative and inspiring environment to explore and engage with the many interesting films and subject matters that fuel their curiosity and sparks their imaginations. From 300 Ajyal Jurors in 2013, our jury programme has grown to include over 550 jurors from more than 45 countries. Although these numbers are extraordinary, what is even more special is how this experience of critical and curious questioning transforms these many jurors’ lives.”

While Ajyal is a celebration of films from all over the world, Ajyal Creativity Hub presents a vibrant programme of cultural and creative activities which includes Geekdom – a hub for the community to come together and relive their childhood memories through music, games, competitions, talks and films; and Ajyal Talks – intimate and in-depth dialogues on relevant and topical issues that impact youth across the globe.



About Moudi Boutique…

Moudi Al Harbi, a talented and award winning Qatari designer, established her very own brand “Moudi Boutique” in 2010.  With a keen eye for textures combined with her “savoir faire” she continues to amaze us with her creations that carry her unmistakable “Moudi” trademark.

Inspired by her own mother’s creativity, Moudi was passionate about experimenting with different textures but maintains her own style with a clear identity of her own culture.

Her taste for luxury is very evident from her fabric choice, cut in perfect Moudi style, making any woman wearing her masterpiece feel like a million dollars.

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The collection showcased at the 12th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition was inspired by“winter in Paris” – a combination of traditional fabrics with European accents. Feathers, fur, leather and metallic ornaments were all the rage in her collection.

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Click on the link to listen to the interview with Naimah Zeyad representative of Moudi Boutique:


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For more information on Moudi Boutique follow @moudiboutique


QLabel – Modest Travel Wear

QLabel – A new upcoming Qatari Fashion House established earlier this year.

A collaboration of designers who share a passion for travel, modest fashion style and beauty, creating collections made of the finest material to provide you with fashion wear exuding comfort and style.

Versatility being the focus of their first travel wear collection, each piece is designed to make dressing for travel simple and comfortable taking you to different destinations and occasions with great ease.


This year at the 12th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition,I had the opportunity to interview  Pooja Adam representing QLabel

Click on the link to watch the interview:

Fashion meet Compassion

Earlier this year, Q Label Designers  launched iCARE, a charitable project in collaboration  with Qatar Red Crescent (QRCS).
iCARE, project put together by six women from different backgrounds, with the purpose of giving back to communities. their motto – fashion meet compassion
The announcement of a special collection to be launched twice a year, with 30% of the profit from the sale of the said collections to be donated to designated humanitarian causes.

May 2017 saw the announcement and  launch of their first iCARE collection, consisting of four designs, each design bearing a symbolic name – Compassion, Care, Peace and Love
The first iCARE  contributions were made to a project in Myanmar, hence “iCARE for Myanmar”
“We gave our dresses a name because these are not just some fashionable attire we are selling. We want our customers to know that each time they put on their dress, there is an emotion they have sent out to the suffering women of Myanmar,” Saba Syed from Q Label explained.


For more information on QLabel :