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Nada and Noor Alawi, co-founders, Annada. Image credit: Annada.

MENA's creative entrepreneurs talk on what it's like to turn a passion project into a business venture, and share their insights for pursuing creative ambitions in the MENA region. 

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The -based Annada made quite an impression when it launched in 2011 offering scarves featuring original artwork by two regional artists, and co-founders (and sisters) Nada and Noor Alawi have since proved themselves to more than just a flash in the pan- the company’s range has grown to includes apparel as well as leather and paper goods built in collaboration with regional artists.

The venture’s success should serve as an inspiration for other wannabe entrepreneurs wanting to follow their passion- Creative Director Nada Alawi, for instance, used to work in the oil and gas industry, before launching Annada with her sister. “The brand is in our DNA, we know it, we’ve developed it, it is our way of life,” she says. “We had set off with two highly celebrated artists; Abbas Almosawi and Hassan Haidar. We set up our shop online at and from there, the collection continued to grow. We have now collaborated with over twenty artists from the region, and have gained a loyal following to whom we are ever so thankful.”

THE Q: What’s your advice for designers looking into developing their own line of niche products?

“Listen to where your heart wants to go, then show up, and do the work to get there. It’s as simple as that. Every day will be a new challenge, as if you were in a reality show, and each episode has a different theme. The key is to break apart the challenge into small pieces, and tackle them one at a time. Throughout this nonstop journey, you will have your ups and you will have your downs, but always remember, the most beautiful things await you on the other side.”

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