Meet Saudah Saleem, the interior designer making a name for herself on Instagram

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Saudah Saleem is known for her sense of style when it comes to clothing and interiors. (Supplied)
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Saudah Saleem is known for her sense of style when it comes to clothing and interiors. (Supplied)
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Saudah Saleem is known for her sense of style when it comes to clothing and interiors. (Supplied)
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Saudah Saleem is known for her sense of style when it comes to clothing and interiors. (Supplied)
Updated 13 August 2019

Meet Saudah Saleem, the interior designer making a name for herself on Instagram

  • The African American is known for her fashion, styling and curated spaces
  • She is one of a few visibly Muslim designers in the US industry

LONDON: Saudah Saleem, the founder of her own award-winning interior design firm, is not your average entrepreneur. 

“I am an African American Muslim,” said the woman behind Saudah Saleem Interiors, who wears a hijab without compromising elegance and freshness. 

“I have always felt that being stylish and maintaining a Muslim identity are not mutually exclusive,” she explained. “There are few visible Muslims in the interior design industry in the US. As such, my hijab style has become sort of my calling card,” she stated.

She sometimes refers to her hijab style as “fashion meets faith.” What is equally interesting is Saleem's personal style.

“I am well known for my eye for fashion and styling and enjoy creating beautiful curated, vibrant spaces tailored to exceed my clients’ expectations and unique lifestyle needs. I love using pattern, texture, vivid color, and a mix of elegant and eclectic design elements to create an aesthetic that is both sophisticated yet approachable.” 

Typically, she dresses in layers with statement pieces like a bold-printed hijab or a vintage Chanel handbag. Saleem uses a classic piece combined with eclectic elements to create a sophisticated yet practical look.

“Dressing modestly in a society and culture that emphasizes the concept of ‘less is more' does require a bit of ingenuity,” she said.

She said that the fashion industry caters more now for modest clothing because of demand, but not necessarily and “specifically for Muslims.”

Her design career began when she was a newlywed designing her first apartment. “I became acutely aware of my ability to make impactful changes in my space and loved it,” she recalled.

It was then that Saleem realized she wanted to become an interior designer and is now aiming to expand her services globally.

The ingredients to her success, she said, are faith, resourcefulness, perseverance and courage. Influenced by her love of art, history and world culture, she is inspired by the Muslim women in her community who maintained their unique heritage during a time in the US when Islam was still seen as quite foreign. 

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I love that my clients weren’t afraid of mixing prints, colors or materials to achieve a fresh look for their living space. . . One of my favorite pieces in this modern family living space is this contemporary glass and wood end table. I love the mix of materials! It allows for a blending of styles, provides great storage and makes for a pretty cool conversation piece. . #realestate

A post shared by Designer Fashionista BossMom (@saudahsaleeminteriors) on

Saleem has had to overcome some challenges as a mother of five and business owner. “It is important to me to ensure that I am spending time with family as well as cultivating and maintaining client relationships,” she explained.

As for her advice for those seeking to become entrepreneurs, Saleem offered this: “Firmly ground yourself in your beliefs, invest in your passion and persevere.” 


Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

The Italian establishment’s first GCC branch is a welcome addition to the Dubai scene. (Supplied)
Updated 25 min 30 sec ago

Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

DUBAI: With organic ingredients and an eye-popping variety of authentic Italian dishes, the Dubai-based Tonda Pizza is a perfect choice for fast-casual dining.

The roots of the business lie as far back as 1948. The Italian founders apparently used to sell pizza to holidaymakers on the beach in Pescara, by the Adriatic Sea. The small-pan pizzas were ideal for people who wanted to grab a snack on the go.

Tonda Pizza has multiple branches around the world and is planning to bring its concept to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but its first regional outlet opened recently in Index Tower, in Dubai International Financial Center.

At the doorstep of the restaurant, you will be welcomed by the friendly staff who are enthusiastic and happy to serve you. Some of the Italian words may be hard to understand, but the waiters will be able to answer any questions.

The interior is cosy and just as welcoming as the staff. The atmosphere is classy, relaxed, and quiet. For the many employees in the area, this is a great spot to take your mind of work for a while.

The restaurant serves a seemingly endless variety of pasta and pizza made with organic flour, olive oil, and tomatoes imported from Italian farms. It also offers a range of special homemade starters and desserts.

Tonda, meaning ‘round,’ offers “guilt-free” pizzas. The thin crispy slices are full of authentic Italian flavor, but the dough does not contain animal fats, and it’s gluten-free.

It always fun to watch your food being cooked right in front of you, and Tonda’s open kitchen means you can do just that. The service is impressively fast, too.  The meal is best accompanied by one of Tonda’s traditional Italian drink offerings, which include Chinotto, Gassosa, Limonata, and Spuma. 

The tasty burrata salad was a more-than-generous and delicious starter. Fresh balls of cheese decorated the bowl, which was overloaded with mixed tomatoes and fresh basil.

Next up was a delightful range of pizza. Thick mozzarella cheese (10 out of 10 on the cheese-pull test), shreds of well-cooked beef, and a sprinkling of rocca leaves coated each slice of the thin-crust bresaola, while the tartufo boasted a delicious truffle spread and mushroom topping.

The undeniable highlight of the meal, however, was the salamino pizza. Its spiciness might make your eyes water as well as your mouth, but it was well worth it. The salamino was topped with organic peeled tomatoes, spicy beef salami, extra virgin olive oil, and decorated with oregano leaves.

The pasta that accompanied the bolognaise gave a good firm bite — perfect for those who like their Italian cooked al dente. The portion was ideal for one person. 

 

Once you are done with the main course, the restaurant offers a tasty selection of desserts too. We’d recommend its unique Nutella pizza topped with sliced bananas as a must-try.   

Tonda may be a little on the expensive side for what is, essentially, fast food (albeit high-quality fast food) — an appetizer, main course and beverage could cost up to $21 — but we’d say it’s worth the price for some tasty, healthy fresh Italian fare.