THE STORIES







Stemming from a multicultural background, Hala A. Malak tackles design critiquing, writing, branding and curating. Born in Beirut amidst the civil war, she worked and studied internationally in Lebanon, Canada, USA, Dubai, Holland, Morocco and Paris. A true globetrotter, Hala’s unique perspective is one that is inspired by all the countries she’s left her pins in. A lover of imperfections, Hala has an eye for the beauty that lies in conflict. She dares to spark discourse about the region, across the region. Her dynamic approach paves way for a continuously contemporary interest in art and branding as she continues to go back to the drawing board.




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After visiting New York, Hala moved there within the year. Completely in awe she describes it as “the city (that) has an incontestable energy which fuels (her) performance and creativity like no other place on Earth.” Finding home in New York, Hala is drawn to the energy that is absorbed by “a real melting pot.” The city playing a significant role in her story quenches her thirst for ambition. Fit for purpose, as an Arab she faces no obstacles, “I think it’s more challenging in general to be an Arab in the US today but honestly I don’t particularly feel it in the same way in New York. It’s also a time where voices like ours will be heard.”





Mohammed Fairouz, an Emirati-American, is amongst the most regularly accredited and recorded composers known. The aesthetic of his voice intricately weaved with his engagement of politically philosophical themes reflects his worldly perspective. Mohammed’s post-millennial vision of both the world and music is a portrayal of New York’s cosmopolitan identity. His daring will to face the music ultimately conveys an imaginative portrayal of cultural heritage becomes technically impressive.





Lebanese born architect, Michel Abboud heads SOMA architects in New York. Entranced by the continuous metamorphosing of New York, Michel was able to drive his success and aspirations to reality. He earned his Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Columbia in New York. His avant-garde portfolio led him to prestigious universities across the world. Materializing his forward thinking visions of design, Michel continues to push the envelope with his bold and contemporary structures. Creations that demand respect and admiration, Michel’s daring taste decorates our world past his, in New York.




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The New York state of mind for Michel is attributed to the “will” that a New Yorker embodies. The daily grind is the foundation that fuels desire to make personal achievements come to fruition. Ultimately, New York brews “the experiences that you keep accumulating and that enrich your life.” Expect the unexpected” is at the core of the city’s dynamism. He would encourage the exploration of the city on the back of his bike for a ride of what he calls the “architectural promenade.” For Michel, being an Arab in a multicultural setting “has its challenges, but everyone is from somewhere different, so the feeling of belonging is immediate.”





A young Saudi female living in New York, Alaa is a pioneer of fashion entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. She moved to New York to pursue a Master’s degree in Design Management at Pratt Institute. Drawn to the city’s creative energy, Alaa took note that New York is the place where fashion trends take root and ideas come to life. Like New York, she dared to export her fashion sense across the Atlantic and into the region. She is the founder of Fyunka, a personal brand inspired by the pop-culture of the Arabian peninsula, and a designer whose social atmosphere was a driver behind the creation of her brand.




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Alaa’s New York dream all began with her view of an iconic movie set in the city. For Alaa, New York was the shoe that fit. Thankful for the scene that helped her grow she praises the city in that she is “so grateful to have moved” there, except, "why isn't there enough kunafeh in this city?" As an Arab residing in New York, she loves being able to change the stereotype about Saudi women. She enjoys “introducing (her) culture to someone who is interested in knowing more then what they see in the media.”





A musical talent, Kinan Azmeh found love in a musical instrument, the clarinet. Born in Syria, Damascus, he moved to New York when he was 25. The virtuoso, Kinan tours the world as a soloist, composer and improviser. Transcending a spectrum of emotions melodically, Kinan’s daring ally, his clarinet, leaves audiences mesmerized. The haunting beauty he communicates musically catapulted him into fame as he won a Grammy with the Silk Road Ensemble. Kinan’s absolute pitch, projects memorable art in the face of conflict back home in Syria in the hopes of moving audiences. Keeping Damascus close to his heart, he finds home in New York.




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Chaos in a city that “lives on the edge,” is how Kinan Azmeh relates Damascus to New York. Identifying in the adventure offered there is a feeling Kinan will never forget, “hearing the humming sound of the city and the thrilling feeling that it triggered.” Never a dull moment, as “some landscapes change, people move around but the energy remains.” The similarities between the two cities divide home across the world. Being an Arab residing amidst the cosmopolitan nature of New York “allows you to zoom out of your bubble and be part of a larger entity.”





Born and raised in NYC, Samera Abed immerses herself in the dynamic world of art first as a model/actor and then ultimately as a painter. Daringly brushing off the odds, her multicultural background earned Samera her place in art dealership. Her flair for art mimics her impression of New York as a construction site subject to creation and destruction. The cultural dynamism of the city enables Samera’s career to be an affair of the heart. Getting the picture, she selflessly leverages other artists in her journey. Her love for New York is a masterpiece of understatement.




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Samera sees New York everyday “like it’s a new city, always discovering something new,” almost as though she constantly views it like it was the first time ever. The perpetual evolution of the city embodies her path as she indulges in the New York state of mind; “I am New York, New York is me.” A great appreciation for art, she divulges in the beauty of the city as though it were a painting. With every “inhale and exhale” Samera’s New York “is full of energy and colours, vibrant and dark.” The contrasting fabrics of a city that enable her to feel like a “different kind of breed.” An Arab who is self-proclaimed as “a woman from this earth,” she finds a perfect match with the city.






Lebanese-born artist Oussamah Ghandour creates his art through self-reflective fulfilment. Daring to follow his intuitions to deconstruct then reconstruct himself, he puts his thoughts into an artistic portrayal. Oussamah focused his studies in liberal and visual arts in York University Toronto paired with a graphic design and communications degree, he set off on his journey as an artist and designer. His passion for travelling allows him to rinse out his memories and experiences on every canvas. Having lived in Riyadh, Doha, Nice, Toronto, Beirut and Dubai, he settled in Brooklyn, New York. A city that sparks his imagination through social pandemonium and urban disorder through multiculturalism which continue to color his world.




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An important factor that contributes to Oussamah’s artistic process is the energy he feels in New York, “the people are simultaneously feeding off each other's energies.” The fast pace of the city ushers his craft as the New York state of mind allows Oussamah to be anyone he wants to be at any given time. Pivotal to his art, the city’s “frequencies become visible (and) science and magic coexist.” His advice for those visiting is to “pack light, press play and don’t forget your sunglasses.” Serving as yin and yang, Oussamah claims “the duality of my eastern roots and western upbringing allows me to connect equally and influences my creative process.”