“Developing and changing is important, but remaining true to who you are is the only thing that will make you special enough to stand out,” Zina Khair tells Bazaar of the mantra she lives her life by, attributing the philosophy to her home country of Syria. “The diversity and richness of its ethnic and religious demographic made most, if not all, Syrians tolerant and accepting of the differences of the ‘other’. Thus you felt safe, free and confident to stay true to your own self.”
This ethos overflows into her personal style, which Zina describes as “simple” but cannot be placed in just one category. “I enjoy wearing my Guns ‘N’ Roses T-shirt and ripped jeans just as much as a romantic, floral print, ruffle dress or a classic black tweed blazer,” she says, but admits, “spending these last few years in Dubai has definitely seen a little bit of bling added to my style.”
Her wardrobe consists of a mix of high-end and high-street – “I enjoy wearing my clothes from H&M just as much as my Alaïa, Chanel or Elie Saab pieces.” But it’s “being different that matters most. I get stopped and asked about the brand of my clothes much more often when I wear an outfit designed by my younger sister Aya than any other easily recognisable famous label.”
Since moving to Dubai in 2012, Zina’s main focus was, “helping my daughters integrate and adapt to their new home” and it’s imperative to Zina that she set an example for them, just as her own mother did. “My mother used to take my sisters and me regularly to help out in orphanages or to read stories to the elderly in nursing homes. Humanitarian and social involvement became part of my lifestyle.”
Zina put what her mother had taught her into practice in 2005, when she set up an NGO with a group of ladies to help the blind and visually impaired in Syria.
Now, she hopes to inspire her daughters as they move through life. “When my daughters read this I want them to know that their mum was not only chosen for her style, but also for the heart that complements it. I want them to know that heart, soul, authenticity and humility are vital elements in life.”
Zina Khair wears Safiya dress, Louis Vuitton belt, both her own. Photography: Ethan Mann. Styling: Samah Elmeri. Words: Maddison Glendinning. Hair & make-up: Blowout & Go