After my JetPad introduction, I ventured to the Dubai Ladies Club for Tim Hortons & doughnuts with none other than Dubai’s Thoraya Al Awadhi. There are very few women I admire or am friends with but ever since I have met Thoraya, early last year, it has been a delight to catch up with her at her office (Squisito) for coffee or outside. Dubai may be full of beautiful women but its not often I come across women who are beautiful, intelligent, down to earth, grounded, successful while being family oriented as Thoraya which is why no matter how tired I am end of day, I never say no to meeting with her.
Yesterday I caught up with her at the 11th exhibition that she has organised for women and I absolutely loved the abayas, the jewellery and walked out with some herbal supplements. The exhibition is for women to showcase their creativity, talent and provide as well as receive guidance in business. Thoraya targets women, especially those above 40, whose children are grown up and who may have a lot of time on their hands, to recognise their talent and to help them realise this will make them become financially secure. The idea is to encourage them to utilise their skills and help those in need with the money they earn.
I remember how I was late getting to the Thoraya Alawadhi Group of Companies the first time as I had decided to try out the Rolls Royce Phantom of a friend and the petrol was on ‘E’ – we had underestimated how far it will take us. We reached her 20 minutes late and she was most gracious and forgiving about the fact that we drove 30miles an hour to get to her. Our coffee date had started on a humorous note – our mutual friend felt we both were very similar in many ways and should meet and its great we did.
I’m so glad for that introduction because Thoraya has become my role model and since meeting her, I have become more focussed on myself, my child and the time I spend with her just like Thoraya did over the years and her daughter (Najla Al Awadhi) is a well known intellectual personality in the UAE. Thoraya herself graduated from the University of Southern California as a historian. Imagine my delight when I heard that as the company I work for has a global travelling exhibition that looks back in history on the achievements and inventions of Muslim scholars during the golden age of Islam.
It’s always great to be able to talk about all kinds of subjects with Thoraya. Most of her current events are in aid of the Al Noor which is a school for special needs children. Thoraya organizes special events and exhibitions to raise awareness for children with special needs. I have been to her events and as a woman, I really appreciated the things on offer and meeting interesting people from all walks of life.
Our last chat was a discussion on the fact that civilisations should always be built on people and not on buildings. She loves the fact that the UAE Government spends as much on developing the skills and talents of the local people as on the beautiful architecture that visitors to the country are in awe of. She also encourages the growth of the younger generation having seen how successful her own children are.
My favourite project of Thoraya’s is one that she and her partner Miss Leen Vandle designed together – They designed and built a houseboat that is ideal to be attached to beach hotels. She has a model of this currently in Dubai. It is unique and beautiful and future concepts of the boat will also include the facility of being able to travel. The houseboat is a dream home for people who like to live on water (As an Islander and a Pisces, I can totally relate). The interiors are better than any five star hotel you can visit.
Thoraya looks years younger than her age. Her secret is being happy and able to realize her dreams. Doing yoga also helps her with balancing her thoughts and keep her energy levels up. Especially as she gets up early to get her youngest daughter, Yasmeen up for school so her days starts at the same time – this is one thing I am so bad at. I definitely am not a morning person so I admire people who can start the day early with so much vigour. If you have time, do go and see Thoraya’s amazing exhibition tailored for women at the Dubai Ladies Club….its on until the evening of the 8th of March. Enjoy