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IN DUBAI WITH SHEREEN MITWALLI


Meet Shereen Mitwalli, entrepreneur, television presenter and Kiva ambassador. Discover her travel style tips, her tips for social media domination and her most memorable celebrity interview.


You have interviewed some of the world's most famous names, what is the most memorable interview you held and why?

My most memorable interview was with Sir Richard Branson. I'm always so intrigued by the psyche of an entrepreneur, a business owner, an achiever and what do they do in their everyday life that makes them different. I like to know what makes somebody tick, what makes them successful, what the common denominator is between someone who is successful and someone who is not.

One thing that fascinates me is how most millionaires and billionaires are always on the go! I asked Richard Branson in my recent interview with him "when will he retire", and his response was "I'm not done just yet. There's still so much to accomplish." He's a billionaire who doesn't necessarily need to work for money anymore, he can afford to take the rest of his life off, but he chooses not to. He chooses to still wake up every morning early, attend his board meetings, communicate with his team, and come up with new ideas.

I also love celebrity interviews; it's always intriguing and interesting to see what their real persona is like. We see them on the big screen and we see all these different characters that they portray, but I'm always so intrigued to see who they are at their core, and that's what I'm able to do when I interview some of these celebrities, getting up close and personal with them.

The worlds of social media and digital are always changing and evolving, how do you use those platforms to build your brand and reach out to your audience?

This is really a very interesting question because the world of marketing has completely changed and evolved over the last 10 years. Conventional marketing how we used to do it on TV, radio, and print has completely evolved and those areas of marketing are suffering now. New media, which is what we call social media, has become the most popular source of how consumers find out information. Consumers are no longer reaching out to the papers and instead reaching out to social media, which provides an amazing opportunity for SME's and small businesses to create their own news.

How I personally reach out to my audience has been through a very organic and natural approach. I very much live by the philosophy "the more you educate, the less you need to sell." I like to educate my followers through what I actively do on my channels, for example sharing a public speaking course, or my book collection. It's amazing to see the amount of screenshots that I get through Snapchat; it shows that my followers are really engaged with that I'm doing.

You are the Middle East ambassador for Kiva. Tell us more about your work at Kiva and the importance of female empowerment.

I actually found out about Kiva from Oprah and of course I'm a big fan of Oprah. Kiva is a microfinancing platform for people who are living in third world countries who don't have access to methods of finances i.e. a bank, credit card, or a loan. If someone is entrepreneurial and want to set up businesses, they would submit an application through Kiva.

For example, a woman who would like to set up a tailoring business needs a sewing machine and fabric but she doesn't have any money or the materials to get herself started. How is she going to raise the funds? This is where Kiva comes in. Lenders on Kiva can help a woman like this start a business by lending as little as $25 and 100% of every dollar you send goes to funding loans. The platform gives people the opportunity to be more, to do more in the society and for their community, when they just don't have the funding.

I'm a big believer in education and in empowering people so they can make a start for themselves. It's in our nature as humans to not always appreciate things that are actually given to us for free. We appreciate more the things that are earned. That's one of the reasons why I specifically love Kiva; its empowering people to earn for themselves. Go to kiva.org for more information. Set up an account and lend whatever you can, even if it's lending $25 (100 dirhams) to someone. That 100 dirhams can go a long way.

Travel is a huge influence for you. What style tips have you picked up from your favourite destinations?

When I was 18, I said to myself I need to explore the rest of this world, so I actively started traveling from then. I did my Europe trip, I've gone all over the Americas, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and I guess my biggest travel achievement was when I traveled to Antarctica. I went and stay there for an entire week! Yes it was one of coldest moments of my life, but it was definitely really rewarding, especially seeing the whales and the sea of penguins; it was an incredible experience.

Every region is so different and I learn something new from every single destination. Going to Japan was life-changing. I would say the Japanese culture was one of the most interesting cultures for me. Not only their style, but also their mannerisms. It's so impressive how respectful and polite Japanese people are. When they walk down the street, there's no such thing as walking and smoking because they believe that smoking while walking will disturb the people behind them. Going into the metro, they have this policy that phones need to be on silent and you get fined if you take a call. People are respectful of others, the space and the noise level.

In terms of style, personally I love the Parisian style because I'm all about simplicity. I'm all about less is more and I think the French do that quite well. It's all about showcasing natural beauty rather than being loud with colours.

What pieces of jewellery do you always take with you on a trip?

To be honest, I'm a very minimalist traveler, unless I'm traveling for a specific occasion, example Fashion Week, then yes, I will definitely dress up and accessorize. I'll pack a couple of statement earrings when I go out for dinner because I think that's the easiest way to dress up an outfit. I'll always have an everyday bangle and to be honest my Monica Vinader Signature bangle is always with me because it's something I can constantly wear day and night and it works well with everything.

I'll often bring my classic pieces like stud earrings and a couple of necklaces that I like to layer and play around with. One day I might wear just one, and the next day I'll wear all of them at once!

What is the most memorable piece of jewellery someone has ever given to you?

My diamond engagement ring. It's the most significant piece of jewellery that has ever been given to me. My husband proposed to me on my birthday with this engagement ring, and it's exactly the ring I would have chosen. It reminds me of his commitment and the day he proposed because it's just one of the most magical days of my life.

What is a day like in the life of Shereen Mitwalli?

My days differ, but most of the time, I wake up, I get ready, I play with my dogs and flip through a little bit of social media, but most of the time I'm usually on the news sources. I'm a curious soul so I have to know what's going on in the world. If it's a weekend, that's when I spend time reading; at the moment, I'm reading a book about the greatest speeches in the world, which I love.

During a weekday, I go to my office and that's when I get to speak to my team. My business does various things, from talent management and education with Onstage Academy to events and PR. My team are usually working on a number of projects and there's so much planning and organisation to do. We're either writing scripts, preparing for filming or meeting with clients.

If I have an engagement to present in the evening, then I'm usually getting ready, to present or host something, or I'm preparing for a celebrity interview, or I'm doing my research.

At the end of the day, I go home and switch off and spend time with my husband. We're both foodies and love exploring new places; you'll always find me at a new restaurants or hotspot in Dubai.

What is your favourite place to dine in Dubai?

I love restaurants with views of the Burj Khalifa. Every single time I pass by Burj Khalifa, it has the wow factor - even though I've been in Dubai for five years, it still takes my breath away. It motivates and inspires me and shows that "anything is possible". Dubai was built in 45 years and have a look at the infrastructure; look at the buildings that they've created; it was done in such a short period of time. If they can build Dubai in 45 years, what can I build in my lifetime? It's so inspiring in every single way I look at it. That has always been my favourite spot to dine in - anywhere with the view of Burj Khalifa. For example, there's the Tesoro Terrace in the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi, and Fortnum & Mason which I love going to for high-tea.

How were you introduced to Monica Vinader and what made you fall in love with the brand?

I was gifted a rose gold bracelet by my friend Priya; it was a really nice gift idea to receive because it's simple, adjustable to any wrist size, and it was just perfect. That's when I started finding out everything about the brand. I love the Fiji bracelet, I think it's the classic style of the brand.

What I really love about Monica Vinader bracelets is the fact that you can put them on and take them off by yourself. I have so many issues putting on and taking off jewelry, especially when my husband's is away or I'm just by myself. The Monica Vinader range enables me to put it on by myself. Some people may not really think about that, but I think that's really important. I want to be independent, I don't want to call anybody to help me with taking off or putting on my jewellery - I want to do it on my own, and that's what I feel the Monica Vinader offers.

If you could have one thing engraved on a Monica Vinader bracelet, what would it be?

I already have one engraving on my bracelet. I was travelling and I had it as a gift so it was plain at that time and I was in Harrods in London. My husband had work to do so I was roaming around and I realised they had a Monica Vinader counter. There was an engraver and although I didn't buy it from Harrods I was still able to have it engraved. I asked for my married name "Mrs. Butler" to be engraved on it. I'm proud, to be Mrs. Butler!

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