50 shades of Adorata Emirata – an ode to my loving UAE
“Human beings, their ideas, innovations, dreams, and connections, are the capital of the future. Because where great minds go today, great things will follow tomorrow.”
HIS HIGHNESS SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM
On the 2nd of December, The United Arab Emirates celebrated its golden 50th National Day, a historic moment for all of us living in this country which many of us proudly call home – far away from home.
The video I posted that day was an ode to my loving UAE, a symbolic, metaphoric summary of everything I love about this “golden desert” with outstanding visionary leadership, limitless achievements, and truly endless possibilities.
This country has given me so much, so I felt the least thing I could do in return is to mark it special, but in my own way. Lot of my LinkedIn connections asked me why I have done it, and some even thought I was maybe even hired to do it.
Actually, I was the one that had to hire someone who will do it exactly how I have visualized in my head and trust me – rarely I can find people who are capable for turning my ideas into reality.
I was lucky to find Alim Khadimi- Founder of Floganza Dubai, formerly known as Dubai Flying Dress Official. This amazing photographer was born in France in 1981, graduated from EM Lyon in 2007, but his photography career began in 2019 when he started to take photos of a friend who was a fashion blogger. Year later, Alim turned his hobby into a profession, and in 2011 he moved to Dubai. Attracted by this paradisiacal city, perfect weather, and the professional opportunities it offers to young entrepreneurs, Alim quickly fell under Dubai's charm where he decided to devote himself for a new venture: becoming an entrepreneurial photographer.
I guess his mindset and professional approach were one of the main reasons why we understood each other right from the start. The way he and his team handle the whole organization, from pure logistics to photoshoot itself, I knew right away our collaboration will have a positive result.
I truly admire his remarkable talent, but even more, his outstanding professionalism, and not to mention his patience. For him, flying dress photography is the creative combination of art, therapy, and business. To me, the whole process of executing this idea went beyond my expectations and I can't thank him enough for being open to all my suggestions and creating this beautiful “desert fairy-tale”.
Like every other story, this one has a moral of its own, so let me get back to the beginning and tell you the reason WHY I wanted to do this photoshoot, apart from getting a lifetime memory, and having one of the most wonderful experiences in my life.
In 2015 I came to Dubai only as a tourist. It was love at first sight. The vibe, the energy and everyone simply looking so busy and yet so satisfied. I was sitting in a lobby of Media One hotel, surrounded by business people wearing suits, when I told my best friend – “you know what, I think this is the only place in the world where I can actually imagine working and living rather than in Croatia”.
As a great patriot, moving to a foreign country has never attracted me too much. Moreover, I have always believed that people who leave their homelands are forever considered as a "foreigner in a foreign land" and that they are treated in that way regardless of their qualities, ambitions, and abilities. Simply by listening to testimonies of my own friends who moved abroad, I always came to the same conclusion – living abroad is a “bread with seven crusts”. I was happy with the sparrow in my hand and never wished for that pigeon on a branch. There was no need to pack suitcases except for travel purposes that were always part of my DNA.
But, six years later when the opportunity called Hilton knocked on my door, I no longer hesitated – should I stay or should I go. Ultimately, what I had to admit to myself was that it was never really a problem in leaving my home country, but my own comfort zone.
I was always an ambitious girl, coming from a small country but with huge dreams, and UAE made them come true.
Until March 2020 when they were crushed under Covid-19 crisis. I lost the job, had to pack my bags, take the last evacuation flight and go back to Croatia which was not only facing lock down, but enormous earthquakes as well. I felt like somebody stole my life and turned it into a new script for some horror movie.
It took me a lot of time to mentally recover. I am truly blessed for having the most wonderful, supportive family and friends who helped me at that time, literally, to get back on my feet. They were facing their own life drama & trauma, but still managed to cheer me up when I was not able to see that light at the end of my darkest tunnel. It took months to cope with everything that was happening to ALL OF US in all shapes and sizes.
For the first time ever, I only had one goal and one goal only – to come back to my loving UAE!
I could name you over 50 reasons why, but the main one lies in the fact that this country is led by the most inspiring leaders with limitless vision, whose values and principles are based on dignity, pride, faith, honor and tolerance while creating a powerful future for each and every one of us!
For some strange reason, I always felt in my heart that this is the place where I belong, and I simply have to come back, not to finish what I have started, but continue my own personal and professional growth. Basically, to live my life the way I always knew I could! Don’t get me wrong, I adore my Croatia, but UAE has always given me that much needed space to spread my wings…and FLY into dimensions I am only yet to discover.
So when did the camel came into the picture?
Since always. Apart from the obvious reason of choosing probably the most recognizable tourist attraction and being a huge animal lover in general, I always had “a thing” for this noble, mystical creature of Arabia.
My affection for them went even further once I discovered they are the symbol of journey, patience, wealth, persistence, hope, abundance, modesty, simplicity, endurance, adaptability, resilience, and most of all – survival!
I guess I have associated my whole life, my own being with those traits. Their confidence is, in fact, their most attractive feature. They will never say “no” to any challenge thrown their way, no matter how difficult.
Just like their journey, our lives can be harsh on us at times, taking away all our hopes until we find it impossible to finish the journey. But if the camels don’t give up until they reach the final destination, why should we?
They teach us to keep moving ahead despite all the odds. Did you know that a camel can survive without water for about 10 days and without food for over a month?
These animals travel across the desert carrying people or heavy cargo all day with the hope that they will ultimately find a river or an oasis. This hope can keep them going for days, even months at times.
They also teach us to limit our desires and appreciate what we have instead of cribbing about what we do not, but also to always keep moving forward, despite difficult times we might be facing.
Camels are also a symbol of persistence. Whenever we begin walking down the path, at first, our motivation keeps us active and focused. But soon, as the path turns rocky, all that motivation drifts away, so we need the persistence to keep us moving. They might not be the fastest creatures, but they can keep walking for the longest routes, and in our life, that’s all that counts in the end.
Why desert rather than Burj Khalifa, EXPO2020 or Burj Al Arab? Instead of showing what UAE is today and its remarkable iconic scenes, I wanted to show how it all started, where it all started, fifty years ago. I adore sparkles of Dubai, but the peace you will find in the desert, along with the most beautiful sunsets can't be compared to anything. There you are faced with your own thoughts, your routes and surrounded by the magnificent scenario that can only leave you speechless.
Maybe the best explanatory is written in the book The Little Prince:
“What makes the desert beautiful,' said the little prince, 'is that somewhere it hides a well...”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
If we have already witnessed such a magical, yet powerful transformation in the last 50 years of this incredible journey, it goes beyond my imagination what we can expect by 2071. One thing is certain – If we ever face the moment of despair, this land will give us HOPE. At one point in my life it was the only bright thought I was holding on to, so despite the fact I carry Croatia in my veins, my heart will always beat faster under the sun of the Middle East.
خمسون عاما نحو مستقبل واعد