Sa­lut­ing the Esquire class of 2018

Esquire Middle East - - THE ESQUIRE MIDDLE EAST AWARDS 2018 -


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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