From incredible style snaps and delicious recipes, to DIY workouts and ground-breaking business ideas, we’re completely inspired by the incredible women in the Middle East.
So this year, for the first time, The Cosmo Awards 2016 will celebrate the region’s most vibrant and iconic personalities, entrepreneurs, humanitarians, bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers and tweeters.
*Drum roll please*
Scroll down to meet the fabulous nominees for this year’s Awards. Pick your faves, cast your vote (as many times as you like!) and you’ll go in the running to win great prizes, including a chance to party in style at our exclusive Awards bash at the end of September.
Voting Now Closed!
We love 25-year- old Soraya’s international flair – her posts are bilingual (English and Spanish), and – lucky for her! – she seems to be in a different and fab location across the globe every week. Fashion content is a fusion of high-end and affordable clothing, but it’s Soraya’s unexpected touches of accessories and colour that really set her apart, style-wise. Our fave part of the blog though? The user friendly ‘Shop’ segment, which lets you quickly link to online stores selling the pieces of each outfit she posts – great for your wardrobe but admittedly, potentially dangerous for your credit card!
Soraya Hennessy Chicflavours.com
Carly’s posts are all about being healthy without being boring – so alongside salads there’s plenty of treats (her raw chocolate tartlets are completely addictive!). Lean Living Girl is about doing what’s best for the body, through workout plans and advice on nutrition, as well as recommendations for restaurants where you can dine out without sabotaging your healthy eating plans! Not only are her pics gorgeous (she takes a mean travel shot!), but her advice is practical and realistic, too.
Carly Rothman Leanlivinggirl.com
The Sand Gypsy is kind of like your personal style mood board – gorgeous pics, lots of things to lust over (the shoes! The view! The colours!), and plenty of inspiration to get you out of your selfie-taking rut. Aside from being pretty to look at though, Sai’s posts share the latest in fashion, beauty and travel, so you can get a glimpse into her edit of the latest trends, read up on the hottest hotel and restaurant recommendations, and get insider info on the newest beauty launches.
Sai Manzano Thesandgypsy.com
Australian Kat’s blog barely needs an intro – it’s not only won loads of awards, but is one of the region’s most-followed. And for good reason. Kat’s a master of blending haute couture with high-street fashion (think: a dress from Namshi with a Fendi bag and Jimmy Choo heels), and is generous with sharing her fashion/skincare/beauty know-how with her followers. And if you’re not won over by cool style shots, travel and interiors pics and beauty advice, Kat’s adorable 1-year- old daughter Poppy will do it (she even has her own ridiculously cute Insta account @littlepoppyp).
Kate Lebrasse Lebrasse.com
Fatma’s crisp, clean flat lays are the stuff of Instagram dreams – so much so that we regularly repost her images onto the Cosmo Insta account! The professional fashion photographer shoots in the UAE and UK and shares her life via her blog (which is amusing, honest, and very real), where she’s known for taking the time to answer questions about photography, cameras and related topics to help others to improve their skills.
Fatma Hilal Fatmahilal.com
From the Philippines to our hearts, Joy compiles travel, lifestyle, food and even DIY ideas via bold, bright and punchy images. Many of her shots are fly-on-the-wall style, which we love, because they give an honest insight into what she’s blogging about (which as the blog name suggests, is the ultimate guide for people looking for a thrifty experience in the UAE and beyond – refreshing given the high-cost lifestyles that surround us here!).
Joy Caasi Thethrifttrip.com
The adventures of a Slovenian living in Dubai, Tjaša’s blog captures everything from nature pics and fashion moments, to her nostalgia at finding Slovenian products in stores in the UAE. What makes it stand out, though, are the beautiful photos, which have a distinct ‘design’ edge, oozing effortless and minimalist tones. Start scrolling through her Insta account and beware: you’ll probably want to restyle your life à la her pared-down, Scandi-vibe, too!
Zahra is the queen of collabs, having worked with iconic brands like Gucci and Cartier. But what draws us to her blog and Insta page is her styling. Not only does she have the blogger pose down-pat, but she’s a walking lesson in stylish, modest dressing (her #30Days30Kaftans project had us hooked!). Thoughtful details make her pics extra like-able (think: close-ups of accessories, pretty shadows and movement in her clothes and hair, rather than just static shots).
Zahra Lyla JustLyla.com/blog
We love a Dubai girl gone global – and Najla is it. The beauty blogger has had some crazy impressive career moments (including doing J Lo’s make-up, as well as interviewing Beyoncé’s makeup artist Francesca Tolot and Laura Mercier), and as a follower you can get a front-row pass to her celeb moments and beauty insider info. And don’t skip her Insta feed for major travel envy, make-up products, and nail inspo!
Najla Kaddour Najlakaddour.com
Zahra, better known as Glam Zeee, is all about gorgeously bold make-up looks, but it’s her beauty hacks (like how to make your make-up survive the summer heat) that are what we reckon sets her apart. With that, her positive energy and reminders to love and accept ourselves and not cave into the pressure of achieving unrealistic beauty standards, well, it’s easy to see why she’s one of our faves.
Glam Zeee Glamzeee.com
Sarah’s very own learning institution, Sarah Artistry Academy, offers courses with a team that includes celebrity hair and make-up artists accredited by MAC, Illamasqua, Bobbi Brown, Christian Dior, Kryolan and SKII – and her blog gives you the inside ticket. As well as curating the best beauty tutorials and pics around, Sarah’s original content (often featuring her own make-up line) is fresh and glam.
Sarah Artistry Sarahartistry.com
We’re obsessed with the looks created by Zareen, a self-taught make-up artist who’s been blogging since 2012. As well as working with celebs, she’s also worked backstage on trunk shows for Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, Giorgio Armani and more! When she’s not busy with the A-list she’s sharing her beauty know how with her followers and running workshops and masterclasses.
Zareen Shah Zsquaredxb.com
An international hair and make-up artist, Nina is also founder of the Nina Ubhi Beauty & Hair Institute (a hair and make-up training academy) and she gives her followers not only an insight into the industry and its best practices, but all the tips and tricks from her experience working in the field for so many years. Watching Nina’s vlog is a bit like getting one-on-one advice from a professional, from the comfort of your couch!
Nina Ubhi Ninaubhi.com
Futtaim (Taim) is the host of Taim Show and is one of the youngest Emirati women to take on vlogging. What started out as something she recorded from her bedroom with a mic and a laptop is now professionally produced and one of the most-watched channels in Arabia! An entertainment and gossip show in Arabic (with splashes of English), Taim’s warm personality ensures her viewers (including us!) see her as an honourary BFF.
Taim Al Falasi Youtube.com/TaimAlFalasi
Think women aren’t into fast cars? Alex is here to prove you wrong. The radio presenter and newsreader’s high-speed, wheel-spinning channel features everything from Lamborghini rides to Ferrari drifts. Funny and engaging, it’s easy to see why so many people are tuning in to watch Alex road-test the latest and greatest cars out there – but beware, it might just prompt you to trade in your Kia for something with a little more power!
Alex Hirschi Youtube.com/c/radiohirschi
If you don’t already follow Sindy’s New Old Girl Sindy channel, you might remember her as one half of the first couple to marry over Instagram. Move over Kim K, this is a girl who knows how to break the Internet! Sindy and now-hubby Hamza met on Instagram after he commented on her pic – fast forward a few months and she flew to the UAE from her home country of Brazil, where they then tied the knot! Her blog and vlog were born soon after and we love her quirkiness, her bubbly, positive outlook and her ‘be different and be you’ message.
Sindy Guimarães Mohammed Youtube.com/NewOldGirlSindy
Is there anything Amy doesn’t do? The pro athlete, personal trainer, CFL1 coach, and health and skincare therapist wants to change people’s lives through fitness and nutrition just like she changed her own for the better. She’s turned her passion into a successful career (so she’s #fitnessgoals, and #careergoals too!) and genuinely loves pushing her body to the limits – which might have something to do with her crazy-impressive abs! Amy’s also our go-to on supplements, giving her recommendations for products to take and when for maximum results.
Amy Fox ajf.fitness
Super-bendy Jess teaches yoga classes, has launched two ebooks and blogs to inspire people to join her #letsstartyoga community. And while her pics (scroll through her Insta account to see beautiful poses, inspirational quotes and progress shots) make her worth a follow, it’s her realistic and positive attitude that we love the most. She’s the first to admit she wasn’t born a yogi (in fact, she only started yoga a few years ago), and is open and honest about the moments in life that aren’t Insta-perfect.
Jessica Olie Jessicaolie.com
Nigerian beauty Gbemi Giwa shares her fitness adventures, healthy snack recipes and even the mouth-watering dishes you should order when you eat out and don’t want to over indulge (like a recent ‘Eat Your Cake and Have Abs’ post – yes please!). She’s also known for designing workouts for her followers inspired by her active wear – this is a woman after our hearts! We screenshot her WOW posts (workouts of the week) to make a handy guide for when we hit the gym.
Gbemi Giwa Dubaifitfoodie.com
Full disclosure: every time we watch one of Nadine’s videos or check out one of her superwoman-type shots we’re all like ‘Fierce!’ in our heads. This is a woman who had a sprint-off with a race car, does hill runs in the middle of a Dubai summer and nails a back-clap mid-pushup. A scroll through her account has literally been the motivation we’ve needed on many occasions to get off our butts and get moving. She’s also a life coach, trainer, and contender for smiliest-person-around.
Nadine du Toit Glorygirlfitness.com
Fashion ed, stylist and blogger Millie covers everything from the latest fashion trends to Dubai’s coolest hot spots (with a healthy dose of insider knowledge – she’s lived in the city for 25 years!). We love her ability to mix high-street with high-end (she’s done collabs with everyone from New Look and Gap, to BCBG and Harvey Nichols), feminine, slightly-boho style and her practical fash-advice (like how to tackle longer-length skirts).
Milli Midwood Designandconquer.me
In a region where things change quicker than hemline trends, Mariyah’s Mahryska blog, which embodies her fashion philosophy based on minimalism and simple cuts, has stood the test of time. Since 2009 she’s been sharing her fashion mag-worthy pics and easy-to-wear style with her readers, amassing a loyal following (us included!). If you don’t want to sacrifice comfort for style, this is your blog!
Mariyah Gaspacho Mahryska.com
Street style photographer and blogger, Olga launched Sand in The City in 2012 to document Dubai’s eclectic community. It’s so refreshing to see such a wide range of styles and ‘realistic’ fashion – “There’s much to see off the runway as there is on the catwalks,” says the Russian-born media specialist. We couldn’t agree more. She’s always on the look-out for blog fodder (especially at events) so keep your eyes peeled and your outfits on point!
Olga Lobanova Sandinthecity.net
Swedish Finance grad and ex-crew manager turned stylist and fashion blogger Theresa Karpinska is a living proof that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. Her quirky style (she’s a big believer in daytime sequins – what’s not to love?!) and realistic ‘How to wear’ section (like how to clash prints: “go with muted shades and opt for a safe stripe with an Aztec print.”) have us head over Rebecca Minkoff boots in love.
Teresa Karpinska Styledrifter.com
TV host Nardine presents celeb gossip show E.T Bil Arabi and Arabs Got Talent Extra and has recently expanded her career to include acting, starring in the Egyptian series Fok Mostawa Al Shobohat). She’s also passionate about bringing a voice to women’s issues on a global scale, and hopes to do this with a show of her own one day. Want to find out more? Nardine regularly shares her day-to-day (and great outfits!) via her Instagram account.
Known to her listeners on Dubai 92’s Homerun show as Pricey, Natalie regularly has us LOLing as we drive down SZR. We love her blunt and hilarious takes on co-star Harry’s dating life, her willingness to share even her most embarrassing moments, and her brushes with celebs (including our current cover star Rita Ora – and if you haven’t seen the video of her getting jiggy with Will Smith, hit up her Insta account right now).
Looking for some fitspo? Amy, via her Physique TV show On the Go and her popular Instagram account, is it. The bikini model, former Miss Great Britain and presenter makes keeping active even when you’re travelling look so good, it’s enough to get you off your sun lounger and onto the beach, kettlebell in hand. Beware though, her global travel shots will leave you with a serious case of wanderlust.
As the Editorial Director of Ahlan!, Sarah says she’s in the ‘happiness business,’ making her readers’ lives better in any way that she can – whether that involves getting them a deal on blow-dries, telling them about a new TV series or giving them the heads-up on the hottest nights out. Not only is she tight with the UAE’s biggest influencers (thanks to the infamous Hot 100), but she’s met some major global stars, too.
Sarah Hedley Hymers
Where would we be without Tala Soubra and her Dubai restaurant guide: Fork It Over?! The pretty posts are a great (honest!) guide to the hidden food gems we need in our lives, as well as not-so-good ones we shouldn’t waste our money on. We love the occasional recipes and travel journeys of hers, as well as her guide books that feature photos of mouth-watering dishes she has discovered across London, Dubai and Beirut. A scroll through her Insta feed will make you want to order dessert and hold it aloft or on your lap for a Tala-inspired pic.
Tala Soubra Forkitoverdubai.com
This Aussie health food fan is also the most fun influencer around. Her blog, Secret Squirrel Food, is a collection of delish, easy, and healthy recipes that she created and photographed to spread awareness in the Middle East for better eating and a happier life. From her hula hoop videos and her song lyric captions, to her animal-inspired snacks (who doesn’t want a plate of nut hugging peanut butter bear cookies?!) and infamous fruit and avocado roses, Karen’s posts exude happiness and positivity. We’ll have what she’s having!
Karen McLean Secretsquirrelfood.com
Scottish vegan Jess Smith’s blog is the best of two of our fave worlds: food and adorable pets (her cute fennec foxes Nala and Zara). We love Jess’ original content that shows that eating vegan is anything but boring. Her wholesome, plant-based recipes from smoothies to meals are supported by beauty tips (her mantra: inner beauty = outer beauty) and her passion for promoting animal right and cruelty-free products. Foxes and Food could convince even the most staunch meat-eater to swap their steak for salads, trust us!
Jess Smith Foxesandfood.com
Talk about friendship goals: Nancy and Namrata, foodie bffs since high school, discuss their favourite Dubai eateries on their blog She said, She said. With a range of variety of sections – She Eats, She Loves, She Cooks – and a playful, fun style, it’s clear why they’re one of our faves. Namrata has also ventured into video journalism, giving us a more intimate take on their adventures. Forks at the ready, ladies!
She Said, She Said Shesaidshesaid.co
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Emirati Malak is the chief executive of her own company, surveying and architecture firm 3Dimension, which is paving the way for environmentally-friendly villas in the UAE that use eco-conscious materials and utilise natural light and ventilation. She’s also passionate about creating a green firm of female architects that will promote environmentally-sympathetic buildings.
Malak Ali Hassan 3dimension.ae
Not only do you read Maz’s Cosmo column every month, and listen to her on Virgin Radio Dubai’s ‘Trending 20’, but she’s also seriously passionate about leading social change, and wants to use her position to inspire women to be whoever they aspire to become. As a child of refugees (her parents fled Afghanistan before she was born), she’s worked with numerous agencies and charities to promote education and inspire women in third world countries.
Five years ago, Amna was unhealthy, depressed, and a few kilos overweight. Then she decided to turn her life around. Today, she’s a pro athlete competing on an international scale, was one of the 1 of the 7 female athletes in the UAE Weightlifting National Team that qualified for the Rio Olympics, is sponsored by Nike, and holds the honour of being the first Emirati, GCC national, and Arab woman to compete at Crossfit Asia in 2012.
Amna Al Haddad
Natalia is a former competitive athlete and social scientist, who decided to chuck in her corporate marketing career and follow her passion: Encouraging people to become the best versions of themselves. She’s now a bilingual speaker, writer, coach, vlogger and brand ambassador who helps people and companies develop and market themselves and therefore live their best life.
Radio and TV presenter Anna believes that everyone should have the tools and confidence to give their ideas a voice – and it’s this thinking that led her launching her company Nudge. The advisory agency helps entrepreneurs and CEOs develop ideas through training and workshops, as well as providing hosting, MC and scripting services. Practical advice (like ‘How to Survive Your Work Christmas Party’), paired with her entertaining and relaxed delivery make hers a name to know.
A bit of a star in the Middle East start-up market, Loulou was the first person to introduce a platform for the freelance marketplace via Nabbesh.com and never misses an opportunity to push herself outside her comfort zone. Using Nabbesh, people across the region can offer their talents and services to people or businesses, and from there, companies can find, hire, manage and pay screened and handpicked freelancers to get any work done.
Loulou Khazen Baz
Fashion and beauty editor-turned-entrepreneur Samantha’s Beem app is the first digital beauty concierge in the region. If you’ve ever cringed while booking your regular waxing appointment from your desk (“Yes, a Brazilian please!”), you’ll love Beem, which lets you navigate, book and manage your beauty appointments through an app and a website. And we hear there’s even more Beem news to come, so stay tuned!
Food trucks are so popular in the UAE it’s almost hard to remember a time when they weren’t there. And we have Amal and Deem, founders of Salt, the famous burger food truck-turned-eatery, to thank for that. Even if you’re not obsessed with their burgers and lotus softies (honestly, who isn’t though?!), their launch social media campaign - #findsalt – was genius, and has seen anyone who’s anyone line up for a taste.
Amal Al Marri and Deem Al Bassam
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