Saluting the Esquire class of 2018
REGIONAL FASHION DESIGNER: Hatem Alakeel
Hatem Alakeel has a distinct understanding of multiculturalism. The longtime, go-to designer for stylish Middle East men, his brand Toby by Hatem Alakeel is the embodiment of traditional regional menswear meeting modern aesthetics.
Specialising in men’s traditional robes and shirts, his designs embrace the true essence of traditional dress with subtle design updates to the classic beloved thobe, placing it on the global fashion radar. With his reputation continuing to grow, he was even asked to design pieces for Prince William as he attended an event in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
MUSIC AWARD: Layla Kardan
Despite repeated calls from her family to give up on her dream and pursue ‘a real job’, Layla Kardan has been an example of someone who continues to strive to turn her passion into a profession. Her constant graft against the social stigma that still surrounds female musicians in the region is remarkable and empowering.
Having spent the last few years making a name for herself entertaining thousands at gigs around the region, last year was a seismic year for the jazz and soul singer who recently just released her debut album ‘Saved’, available on Apple Music now. We’re all about to hear a lot more from Layla Kardan.
BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR: Thomas Lundgren
In 1993 Thomas Lundgren decided that his mission in life was to save the world from IKEA.
Three years later, his home stores brand – THE One – was launched in Abu Dhabi. Fast forward 22 years and he now owns more than 20 stores in the region. But that’s was just the beginning. He has used the success of his stores to devote a huge amount of time into CSR activities and huge education projects in Kenya and India, to help people break out of the poverty cycle. When he isn’t busy saving the world, he can be found watching heavy metal bands perform across the globe, and polishing his newly earnt Esquire Awards trophy.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE ARTS: Ali F. Mostafa
While still in his thirties, Mostafa is a revered senior figure in regional filmmaking. Following the box-office success of his debut feature City of Life,
he was labelled as the face of a new vanguard of filmmakers from the Gulf region. Since then he has gone on to create other regional films such as Ato B,
and The Worthy.
While continuing to direct, we honour him for the trailblazing work that he has done in the process of bringing filmmaking in the Gulf to life. His work as a producer and mentor to a new generation of filmmakers enables them to make positive contributions to society in the path that he helped forge.
INSPIRATION AWARD: Dr. Riyad Tazari
Celebrating heroes away from the spotlight is also central to the Esquire brand. This year’s recipient holds a particular gravitas with the life-saving work that he is doing in Kuwait. As Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr Tarazi performs 150 open heart surgeries On average per year.
In early 2018 he also became the first surgeon in the Arab World to successfully implant a total artificial heart in a patient. As an expert in highrisk adult cardiac surgery he also dedicates some of his time to humanitarian missions in under-developed and war-torn countries in the region offering his skills on a pro-bono basis.
ENTREPRENEUR AWARD: Buhpender Nath
The son of a restauranteur, the path to success for Buhpender Nath was clear, but by no means easy. Proud of his Indian heritage, his dream was to help elevate the virtually limitless, flavour-packed cuisine to a new gastronomic level.
In Dubai, his award-winning restaurant Tresind shows a vast cosmopolitan crowd his vision of what Modern Indian cuisine can, and should, be. A highlight of 2018 was the opening of Tresind Studio, a unique, 18-seater, private dining restaurant that pushes the boundaries of diningcreativity in Dubai with ambitious (and delicious) tasting menus and experiences.
CHEF OF THE YEAR: Sean Connolly
Going to the Dubai Opera is a treat. However over the year, what became apparent is the real treat was the pre- and postshow visit to Sean Connolly’s restaurant. With the notable chef’s first (but not last) venture into the razor-sharp world of the UAE restaurant scene, throughout 2018 he more than matched the lofty reputation that he has built in his awardwinning venues in Australia.
His trademark downto-earth cooking style and infectious enthusiasm for food has earned him a new army of loyal devotees in the Gulf, meaning that whatever the charismatic chef has next up his sleeve, people will be queuing up in eager anticipation.
INFLUENCER OF THE YEAR: Alex Hirschi
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to drive supercars for a living — it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Well, that someone is Alex Hirschi.
Formerly the host of her own talk radio show in Dubai, she began by discussing all things automotive with celebrities such as John Travolta, Jake Gyllenhaal, JC Van Damme and Liam Neeson. She now focuses full-time on creating car related videos on her social media channels (@Supercarblondie) where she now boasts more than 7 million followers. Her entertaining, light-hearted approach to traditional car journalism has seen her open up the notoriously stuffy industry to a new, all-inclusive audience.
INTERNATIONAL FASHION DESIGNER: John Varvatos
With previous stints designing menswear at both Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren in the ’90s, it was only a matter of time before John Varvatos broke away to start up his own eponymous label in 2000. His trademark of uniting old-world craftsmanship and refined tailoring, with modern innovations in textiles and a rock ’n’ roll sensibility has set his brand apart in the menswear industry.
Having conquered the American and European markets, in 2018 the John Varvatos brand arrived in the region in a big way, by unveiling its new flagship store in the Dubai Mall and finally offering the brilliant designer’s full range of collections to the Gulf.