DIMASH SERIKOV AND TENGKU SHAHEERA kept their two-year relationship under wraps before announcing their engagement early this year, surprising their friends. Lily Ong uncovers the story of their romance
Dimash Serikov and Tengku Shaheera share with us their love story, on how their relationship has blossomed
Amid planning their wedding, Dimash Serikov and Tengku Shaheera Tengku Abdullah found time in their schedule for a short break in Kuantan, Pahang. Dimash, who hails from Kazakhstan, had yet to visit Tengku Shaheera’s home state. “When he’s in Malaysia, he often stays in Kuala Lumpur. I thought it would be nice for him to see where I grew up,” says the bride-to-be.
I first met Tengku Shaheera two
years ago when her parents Tengku Abdullah Sultan Abu Bakar and Puan Sri Dato’ Habibah Yusof organised a dinner party to celebrate her 21st birthday in Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental KL. During her speech that night, Tengku Shaheera disclosed that she chose to host her party at the hotel because she once interned there. It is hard to imagine the poised and beautiful Tengku Shaheera flitting from table to table serving diners or flipping over bedsheets in hotel rooms. I discovered much later that she has also dipped her toes in multiple disciplines, globally, in pursuit of experience and knowledge, including a three-month internship at Boots Pharmacy in London and a short stint as an intern reporter at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. This brings me to my question: how did she juggle her two main identities as Tengku Shaheera, the dignified royal taught to be mindful of duty and protocol in public, and Sheera, the independent and creative woman who enjoys relaxing with her friends? Or rather, to put it more succinctly, what is it like growing up as a royal in Malaysia? “I admit that there were privileges that came with being a royal. Yet, it also always reminds me to be humble. My parents often bring me along to charity events, and instil the importance of giving back to our community,” she says before adding, “Knowing that people scrutinise your every move is why I am a private person. But over the years, while I know there is little room for
mistakes, as there are people always watching, I have learnt a lot from my experiences, which has shaped me to be who I am today.” Like his fiancée, Dimash is a man of few words, speaking only when necessary in his deep Kazakh drawl. “Some people may think he is distant or rude, but I like that he only opens up to the people he feels close to,” adds Tengku Shaheera. The couple first met six years ago in London. “We had a mutual friend who invited us to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. We did not speak much that night because he was so shy. We only became friends after that because we share many mutual connections,” says Tengku Shaheera. They also kept bumping into each other at cafes and at Heathrow airport. Eventually, she began to wonder if there was a meaning to all of these coincidental meetings. “Even though we did not talk often, I always wondered what he was up to. So unintentionally bumping into each other was exciting for me, as I was pleasantly surprised to see him. It has always been effortless between us; it was as if we knew each other our whole lives,” she expressed. They chose to keep their relationship private, to allow it to blossom. Through it all, they were each other’s best friend and confidant. In fact, Dimash was one of the first few in her inner circle to know of Tengku Shaheera’s ambition to be an interior designer. “Dimash is actually the only one who has seen all of my mood boards. He took me to galleries, showrooms and wherever I needed to complete my projects. Once, he even helped me cut and stick my work onto these boards, and I knew that if I ever needed to go to the printers at four in the morning, he was just a phone call away,” says Tengku Shaheera fondly, adding that it was also her beau who taught her how to ride a bike. In turn, Dimash loves the fact that he can count on Tengku Shaheera to give him the motivation he sometimes needs to get things done. “She always wants me to do better and she is so organised that she often reminds me about the things I need to do. We have this inside joke, where I refer to her as Shaheeri, as if she were an iphone app—after Siri,” says Dimash with a rare chuckle. After Dimash graduated and returned to Kazakhstan to work in his family’s real estate business, they decided to have a long-distance relationship. That’s when the couple realised individually that they were both serious about each other. “I knew she was the one because she had all the good qualities I was looking for in a woman. She is so loving, caring, organised and determined. It definitely shows how well she was brought up,” says Dimash. Realising that she was the one, prompted Dimash to take the next step. He spoke about her to his mother, who after, flew in to meet her. At that first meeting with her future mother-in-law, Saule Kuanyshbayeva, discussions began for the couple to be wedded. “There wasn’t a proposal. We just knew, and that was it,” reveals Tengku Shaheera. She then finally broke the news of her relationship to her parents. Her mother Puan Sri Dato’ Habibah Yusof was shocked when she found out, but her father Tengku Tan Sri Abdullah took the news in a calm manner, to her surprise. Nevertheless, they were happy for their daughter, and hosted an engagement party for the couple last April at their home, attended by close family members and friends. This month, Tengku Shaheera and Dimash are set to tie the knot, with two celebrations—one in Kuala Lumpur and the other in Kazakhstan. Currently, they are learning to adapt to each other’s cultures: Tengku Shaheera is learning Russian while Dimash is trying to understand the protocols and Malay customs—not to mention studying Tengku Shaheera’s extensive family tree! Thankfully, the couple has a shared taste for adventure, which helped them acclimatise to these new adjustments in their lives. “We both are open to try new things by nature so it has been an exciting experience for us,” she shares happily about their future together.
“Some may think he is distant or rude, but he only opens up to those he feels close to”
Bride-tobe Tengku Shaheera Abdullah wears a dress by Gucci while her fiancé Dimash Serikov is in a Burberry Beast shirt