The Aesthete: Dyala Nusseibeh talks personal taste

Dyala Nusseibeh has been director of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair since 2016, cementing its reputation as a major event on the Middle East art scene

Dyala Nusseibeh at home in Abu Dhabi
Dyala Nusseibeh at home in Abu Dhabi | Image: Mohamed Somji

My personal style signifier is my engagement ring. My husband Charles proposed by the sea in Cornwall and I picked up a little black pebble as a memento. He suggested I design a ring with a friend of his, jeweller Ming Lampson, who is a genius in understanding her clients. She encased the pebble in gold and added removable bands of emeralds representing grass, sapphires for the sky and diamonds for clouds. People often remark that I could do some serious damage with it. Ming Jewellery, 108 Talbot Road, London W11 (mingjewellery.com). 

The Nou Project art sneakers, from $355
The Nou Project art sneakers, from $355

The last thing I bought and loved was an artwork from Aya Haidar’s Soleless series, produced in response to an artist-residency programme to integrate Syrian refugees newly arrived in the UK. They cooked in a pop-up café as a source of income while Haidar sat with them, recording their experiences. She encapsulated the results by embroidering an image onto the worn-out soles of their shoes. The work I bought represents a father who carried his three children to safety on his back. 

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The thing I’m eyeing next is a pair of limited edition high-top sneakers that are also works of art by my friend Nour Al Tamimi. Her brand is called The Nou Project. I love wearing art on my feet! From $355; thenouproject.com.

The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi Sequoia Wood, £95 for 30ml EDP
The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi Sequoia Wood, £95 for 30ml EDP

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Al-Ain Oasis, the UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage Site and a place of immense serenity. Jean Nouvel captured this beautifully in his design for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. His inspiration was a medina, with dappled light filtering through the palm leaves of a desert oasis. visitabudhabi.ae.

Al-Ain Oasis
Al-Ain Oasis | Image: Alamy

The beauty staple I’m never without is Oskia London, my go-to brand for skincare. The Renaissance 360 Anti-Ageing & Brightening Supreme Cream keeps my skin hydrated and fresh wherever I happen to find myself. The Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum is brilliant for treating fine lines and dark circles. And I’ve just discovered perfume-designer Azzi Glasser and her Sequoia Wood. It’s a blend of red sequoia, neroli, patchouli and white musk and always gets me compliments. Oskia Eye Serum, £50 for 10ml; Renaissance 360, £74 for 40ml; oskiaskincare.com. Sequoia Wood, £95 for 30ml EDP; theperfumersstory.com.

Nusseibeh’s engagement ring
Nusseibeh’s engagement ring | Image: Mohamed Somji

A recent find is the new Edition hotel in Abu Dhabi. I love its design and location in the marina – like the city itself, it’s completely surrounded by water. From the moment you enter, there’s a wonderful play on all the senses – soothing coolness after the heat outside, wafts of Le Labo scent and cosy spaces dotted with contemporary art. The lobby features a kinetic installation by Studio Drift and The Market restaurant uses ingredients from local organic farms. Al Bateen Marina, Abu Dhabi (editionhotels.com). 

Sitt Marie Rose by Etel Adnan
Sitt Marie Rose by Etel Adnan | Image: Mohamed Somji

The best book I’ve read recently is Etel Adnan’s novel Sitt Marie Rose, which is set during the Lebanese civil war. She’s an artist too, now in her 90s. I love her sensitive style of writing. 

A work from Aya Haidar’s Soleless
A work from Aya Haidar’s Soleless | Image: Aya Haidar

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a LaDoubleJ full-length silk crepe de Chine dress with a ruched hem and sleeves that end in frilled bells. The silhouette has a vintage 1970s vibe that still manages to be contemporary. I tend to favour full-length, lightweight dresses as they’re feminine and practical. They’re nifty at hiding my Anya Hindmarch sneakers – essential as I’m always on the go. Visconti dress, £1,060; ladoublej.com.

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My favourite website is the Abu Dhabi online concept store Minbart. They work with wonderful creative people – I always discover desirable clothes and jewellery I didn’t know I needed. minbart.com.

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