Out & About

Heart of Sharjah: Reflecting heritage with time


Living in the middle of the Sharjah arts area for a majority of my life, I feel it has grown with me. Now known as the ‘Heart of Sharjah’ within which the Corniche road is situated, it is the region’s biggest heritage project which began in 2010 with the aim of preserving the national historic landmarks in the emirate. It is being developed by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) whose aim is to reflect what Sharjah was like over half a century ago by 2025.

The Corniche road forms the waterfront of the Heart of Sharjah project, which is considered to be one of the region’s largest tourism and heritage projects.

As a kid, every morning while waiting for my school bus to arrive I’d watch hardworking workers loading and unloading goods (which reminded me of passing the parcel at the time), never imagining that a day would come when that long row of boats across the waterfront would be gone. The transformation never seizes to amaze me.

The busy port has now been transformed into a tourist and trade destination with modern contemporary artistic touches.

People now go for their regular morning or evening strolls while children cycle across the waterfront. The sunset is breathtaking at times where you’d just wanna lean on the railing, have your cup of tea and and watch the sky cast that beautiful reddish hue across the horizon.

The Heart of Sharjah is a five phase project that is expected to be completed by 2025, aiming to revive the historic and heritage area. Imagine what it will look twelve years from now!

Night view

By Neha Kalvani


Dorri – It comes quite handy…

If you remember a bit of your childhood, you might remember learning how to make arts and crafts at school. A papier-mâché box, a photo frame, a beaded bracelet that your mum saved all these years, or something that you created lovingly and were proud to take home and say “I made this. For you.”

One man’s hobby is another’s masterpiece. Jasmine and Amrita Sihra, sisters and working professionals brought up in Dubai, decided to take their love of arts and crafts and turn it into an inspiring home-based handicrafts business. And that is how dorri was launched last July and their first exhibition was held at the ARTE fair in Times Square Centre in September.

Historically speaking, the word dorri holds a different meaning in different languages. In Greek, dorri is known as a gift of the Gods, in Hindi, the word dorri means a thread. In Farsi, dorri is a sparkling star glittering like a gem. Little wonder that the brand name is a true representation of the heritage and culture of the two Indian sisters; a thread that creates and holds together what is unique and special.

With a variety of items all painstakingly handcrafted by the Sihra sisters such as jewelry, diaries, candles, exquisite woodwork, gift cards, tags, envelopes, wine bottle covers, personalized wedding cards, wedding favors and other unique knick-knacks, dorri truly epitomizes everything that is traditionally Indian.

dorri collage

Attributing their in-born creativity to their artist mother, the sisters spent a year in their hometown of New Delhi and began working on their dream, supplying their handmade items to popular craft and home decor stores with the help of a cousin. Later when they returned to Dubai and their regular day jobs, they committed themselves to researching the local market. The rising popularity of art fairs and exhibitions and an appreciation for all things unique encouraged the sisters to take a short trip back to Delhi to hunt for raw materials. Back in Dubai and armed with purpose, a luggage full of supplies and great ideas, they eventually launched their own brand with the blessings and support of their parents.

Despite being occupied with their full time jobs, the two are passionately following their love for the art whilst sometimes having to burn the midnight oil to complete a customer’s order or stock before a big exhibition. “It gets pretty tiring to juggle between our day jobs and dorri but when you are passionate about something you can never be too tired.” says Amrita.

When asked where they get the ideas and inspiration for such innovative and individual pieces, Amrita said “We usually buy all our raw materials without thinking what it will be transformed into. When we sit down to make things, it usually just comes to us.” Their most popular pieces among the scores of products are their desi (traditionally Indian) doll pencils and bookmarks.

As their business is relatively young, the sisters are still learning and testing the market, taking it slow and steady. Ongoing plans include working on supplying certain products to specific stores in the UAE and running campaigns mainly for their jewelry on desado.com. Their dream is to open a dorri boutique appealing to a wide range of shoppers’ tastes and styles.

Their advice to anyone starting a home-based business venture? “When starting a small home-based business you have to start small and take a step at a time. A lot of times people start a business with full force and shut down pretty quickly as well. The main thing is to work on your passion and have something different that isn’t there in the market already.” Amrita smilingly concludes.

So when Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” he really knew what he was talking about.

For more information on dorri products, visit the website, http://www.dorricrafts.wix.com/dorri or their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/Dorri.arts

For further enquiries, please email Jasmine and Amrita Sihra at dorriarts@gmail.com or give them a buzz at +97150 224 2281

By Thistles and Whistles


Sandy Mathews: Talent Extraordinaire

Young, ambitious, beautiful, confident and multi-talented; these are the five words that would describe Sandy Mathews best. It is not a regular sight where one would find a 20year old extremely focused at what she wants to do. A goal which is firmly set, she knows what she wants to do in life.

Multi-talented, as the word suggests, this would be the most outstanding factor in Sandy. Currently doing her Bachelors in Dental Surgery (BDS), in Davangere, her ambition is to become a doctor in the field of Dentistry. Though this may be her ambition, it is her dream of helping people. “I have always loved helping people”, she says. Though she didn’t want to enter this field at first, she realized through this way she would be able to be closer to people and help them out better. With her parents also in this field, she had her family’s complete support and encouraged her to follow her dreams.

“For many, dentistry is very much misunderstood. It is often thought to be as only related to issues with the teeth”, she says. Sandy throws some light into this aspect, saying that it includes everything else that is learnt in a normal medical field. “It deals also withthe anatomy of the face and neck. There are further specializations such as, Prosthodontics, Pedondontics, Dental Forensics, Oral Pathology and many more.”

Speaking to Sandy further, she talks about her other talents, with complete justice shown to each. With a beautiful voice and a passion for music,her face beams as she mentions about how and when she began singing. “My father is my role model when it comes to singing. He is a wonderful person who brought out my talent” she says cheerfully. Her earliest recollection is of her singing at the age of three. She recalls winning the 2nd prize at that tender age in a competition which was held in Mumbai, among all the churches. To her, singing makes her feel free, forget everything, and does it because the love she has for it. She says, “My father is my critic, judge and coach through it all.”

For Sandy, in whichever talent she masters, she wishes to help people through it. Similarly, through her singing, she hopes and believes that she is able to touch people. “My love for singing will resonate in my song. It doesn’t matter if the tune goes off pitch or doesn’t sound right. If I put my heart into it and mean what I sing, I believe people will feel touched.”

Her talents don’t end here and the excitement in her voice builds up as she continues to talk about them. She recalls her entry into drama with a funny story of how she landed the lead role for her school skit unknowingly. “Unfortunately I had to take part in our school annual day, in the 11th grade. I didn’t want to take part in anything related to dance, and ended auditioning for the skit. Unaware that I had auditioned for the lead, it was only once I was selected I realized what had happened.” Sandy has also enacted in many skits in church and also scripted and directed one of them.

img-20130131-wa0015She goes on talking, which she loves to do, her smile widens as she talks about cooking and baking, the two things which she inherited from her mother. With the twinkle in her eye she describes her mother as a “Magician” as she tells how her mother would put in a few ingredients and “Voila! You have a dish ready in front of you!” she exclaims. Gradually as she began baking, many have asked her why she didn’t get into that instead of getting into dentistry. When inquired if she would like to start a side business in baking, she says, “I do get that a lot. Anything can happen, and I would like to take it as it comes. I bake and cook because I find happiness, have a passion for it and like to see others happy as well.” She believes and follows her father’s motto, “Be happy and make others happy.” She mentions how she has started to bake in a professional way, with results that were very encouraging.

Sandy believes everyone has some talents in them, but are hidden away and if the skills are left to rust it will only get tarnished, over the period of time. Among her others, she has a flair for sketching and painting. Like any young girl who always fantasizes watching Disney cartoons related to Prince Charming and lovely princess, Sandy grew up drawing them. Only improving over the years, her father began framing her artwork, thus boosting the young girl’s passion further. She also began doing pot painting, this making her room very creative and fascinating. Amid the other things related to art, she also does card making and bookmarks. “It is more personalized and from the heart. I believe it can touch lives, make the person feel special, loved, and my way of saying I think about you”, she says.

Among her other talents are public speaking and writing, which she developed over the years, and also has an interest in animation, which she hopes to learn further as time comes. “For now, I have enough on my plate!” she exclaims. Sandy wishes to concentrate and complete her studies. Giving justice to the word ‘multi-talented’, she believes on taking it as it comes. At the end of it all she is surprised with herself as she wonders how she had known so much and feels that though she is the jack of all trades, she is the master of none; something anyone with an overflow of talents, would say.

By Christine Cherian


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