It is over a scrumptious lunch of sushi and tuna tartar at Zuma that I meet one of my favorite jewelry designers, Shourouk Rhaeim, in Dubai. Visiting the city in collaboration with Sauce boutique, the Tunisian designer dishes on her Arab roots, her thoughts on our city, and what’s on the horizon for her growing brand.
Shourouk, it’s such a pleasure to meet you. I hear you arrived yesterday?
Exactly, yesterday. I love your necklace, by the way. [I am wearing a piece from her latest collection.]
Thank you! You were telling me earlier over lunch that this isn’t your first time in Dubai. You’ve been here before?
Yeah, but just one day in transit, so I didn’t get a chance to see the real Dubai.
Have you managed to discover the city this time?
Last night I had dinner with Noor [Tehini, Savoir Flair Managing Editor] and a few of your friends, so I managed to have some fun. Shame you were not there!
I know. I unfortunately had to be in Abu Dhabi for a private dinner. So what do you think of our beautiful city so far?
I think it is great. I really thought to myself “Okay, what is this city all about?” My expectation honestly was that it might not be so interesting, but actually I fell in love with Dubai. It is beautiful, with so many things to do and a lot of energy. I have so many friends who have moved here, so I actually want to move here as well.
You currently live in Paris, right?
Yes, exactly. A Tunisian living in Paris.
Do you feel you reconnect with your Arab roots while you are here? Is it sort of a feeling of being at home?
Absolutely, I feel at home. Thankfully, in every Arab country, I feel at home.
Shourouk, how do you feel about the immense success you have had? It is typically the case that designers cannot have overnight success, but with you it has almost been the case, with incredible worldwide reaction to your brand.
I really didn’t expect for us to have any immediate success when we launched the company with my partner. We almost treated it like a joke or like fun, but then success came immediately. I really can’t explain it, but people just love this style. I was also lucky because I came to the market with something very new, very fresh, and very colorful. It is really “me”. When I design, I design for what I want to be wearing myself.
Tell me about the beginning of your career. I know that Zayan Ghandour [Co-Founder and Buyer at Sauce] was the first buyer in the world to pick up your collection. What an amazing story. How did you two even meet?
Yes, it’s incredible. She has been so supportive from day one. I met Zayan in a very small showroom in Paris. I don’t even know how she found me. Zayan really looks in every corner of the globe; she is very good at discovering things. And she found me really when I started – it was a showroom that was not at all well known. I have no idea how, but she found me. And she picked up the collection for the boutique before anyone else in the world did.
Did you ever imagine that your debut collection would be bought for the first time for a boutique in Dubai?
I really didn’t expect it. She arrived and said, “Hi, I am from Dubai”. It was such a great moment.
What is next on the horizon for you in terms of design? What are you planning next?
I am coming back to Dubai in February for a new collaboration. I’m not allowed to say what it is on the record, so I’ll tell you after our interview. [Smiles coyly]
I’m excited to hear about it. In the meantime, how do you see the brand evolving in the next few years?
We innovate a lot. We now have a bag line. It is so cute. We also launched sneakers and jelly shoes, which are just perfect for the beach. I really like to launch something not at all expected every season.
Your story must really be a dream come true.
You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams these days. I am so glad to be here. I am really thinking about moving to Dubai, because it is so exciting. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is just so much energy here. This is what I love about it. You know, before we used to talk about the American Dream, but I feel there is a Dubai Dream here. I feel a lot of people come here to launch things. There are a lot of ideas and things to do. Yeah, it is the new American Dream.