Grazia Middle East - - THE HOT STORIES -

I’VE BEEN SEARCH­ING FOR A WAY TO BRING MU­SIC back into my life in a real and mean­ing­ful way, but per­form­ing in Expo 2020’s Na­tional Day orches­tra was far be­yond my ex­pec­ta­tions of how it would hap­pen.

As Edi­tor in Chief of Grazia Mid­dle East, I’m more likely to be found sit­ting on the front row at Mi­lan Fash­ion Week than on a pi­ano stool. How­ever, mu­sic’s my first love. I had my first mu­sic les­son at the age of four, and when I was grow­ing up, I had the priv­i­lege of play­ing in or­ches­tras at the

Royal Al­bert Hall and the Royal Fes­ti­val Hall in Lon­don, but as per­for­mance venues go, tak­ing to the stage on the desert plains of Al Qu­dra will for­ever re­main seared in the mem­ory of even the most ac­com­plished mu­si­cian.

It was such an emo­tional mo­ment for me, not only to find my­self play­ing in an orches­tra again, but as part of such an im­por­tant mo­ment for the UAE, serv­ing as a mov­ing metaphor for the spirit of Expo 2020. And be­ing on set and wit­ness­ing the first Emirati film di­rec­tor, Nayla Al Khaja, in her el­e­ment is more in­spi­ra­tional than you could ever imag­ine.

Lis­ten­ing to the sto­ries from mu­si­cians from all over the world re­minded me what rich and di­verse tal­ents we have walk­ing among us, who have cho­sen to make their life in the emi­rate. And as for me? Hav­ing fol­lowed my dream to Dubai, sit­ting at a baby grand pi­ano, and spend­ing the day with my first love, made me re­alise that I had to make the jour­ney all the way to the desert to find my way home.


may have reached the fin­ish line, but Nike’s new cam­paign is in­spir­ing us to con­tinue the jour­ney.

We Play DXB re­veals first-hand sto­ries told by ath­letes from across the globe, who have each made the UAE their home in re­cent years and all share one com­mon in­ter­est: sport. The 12 in­cred­i­ble young ath­letes, aged be­tween 16 and 28, in­clude Farah Ahmed, a Le­banese con­tor­tion­ist; Mariam Al­hamad, a Bahraini run­ner; Nige­rian foot­ball play­ers Mira and Aisha Zailani; and Mo Man­sour, a Rus­sianE­gyp­tian skate­boarder.

Farah, 26, came to Dubai at the age of 23 to try her hand at “the Dubai Dream”, as she calls it. Two years later, she’s en­joy­ing suc­cess as one of the first con­tor­tion­ists in town, turn­ing her dream into re­al­ity and her sport into a liveli­hood. Farah tells Grazia she’s glad to live in Dubai be­cause it’s where she dis­cov­ered her sport, adding, “I started this sport af­ter prac­tic­ing yoga moves on my own

at home. I dis­cov­ered moves and kept train­ing un­til I re­alised I can do so much with my body. If I want my body to reach any­thing, I can make it hap­pen.”

Farah con­tin­ues, “This sport chose me, it’s like my su­per­power. It amazes me how much I can twist and turn and I’m con­stantly try­ing to im­prove my­self. It’s time wasted when I’m not pro­gress­ing or train­ing on a new move. I owe a lot to my sport, and it will al­ways come first be­cause it was there for me when I needed it; it pushes me.”

The su­per-cool cam­paign – which has launched in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the De­cem­ber open­ing of Nike Dubai, the largest Nike store in the Mid­dle East – was pho­tographed in mul­ti­ple points of the city. Think of the colour­ful streets of Karama, to the in­dus­trial ware­houses in Al Quoz, and all con­vey­ing one mes­sage: that home isn’t where you were born or where you see your­self in the next 10 years – it’s where the sport is. *Dusts off train­ers and goes for a run*.

Be­hind the scenes with Edi­tor in Chief Ali­son Tay on Expo 2020’s Na­tional Day shoot

The cam­paign tells in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries from the eclec­tic mix of the city’s youth

Farah Ahmed is a Dubaibased con­tor­tion­ist

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