x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A therapeutic craft: Huda Al Haddad

We meet Huda Al Haddad, a London-based Emirati who left a career in medicine to make a name for herself as a jewellery designer.

The jewellery designer Huda Al Haddad.
The jewellery designer Huda Al Haddad.

Huda Al Haddad is getting married in August. As with most women in her situation, she has been embroiled in all the stresses of planning her special occasion down to the finest detail.

In the living room of her north London home, she keeps a fat, cream-coloured wedding diary bursting with material samples, notes, receipts and lists in which everything about the big day is carefully documented – seating plan, entertainment, button holes and food.

"I'm a control freak," she happily admits.

However, Al Haddad is getting more hands-on in her involvement than most brides-to-be by designing and creating much of the wedding paraphernalia.

So, as she ties the knot with her fiancé Richard, Al Haddad will be sporting a headpiece and posy made from artificial flowers and intricate beads and brooches that she made herself.

She took an unusual route to becoming a master craftswoman, by giving up a promising medical career to pursue her dream of becoming a jeweller.

Born in Sharjah, then raised in Abu Dhabi, the 32-year-old Emirati first came to England in her late teens to attend boarding school.

After that, she stayed in the UK to train to be a doctor. It was during her studies that she first found a passion for jewellery making.

"An Australian friend of mine bought me some beads as a present and I didn't touch them for ages, but then I started to find it therapeutic to do it in the evenings while I was at med school," she explains.

But there was one particular incident where she realised her hobby could provide a counterbalance to the traumatic nature of her profession.

"There was one night when a six-month-old boy was brought in and he was in arrest," she recalls. "We were all trying to get a line into him but he was cold and blue and I could hear his mum wailing and saying: 'Please save him.'"

"I think she had been asleep in bed with him and had smothered him. He died. Well, he was already dead, really. Anyway, that evening I put these beautiful Swarovski beads together and I made Evie. I name all my pieces and Evie means life. It was for him."

Al Haddad says she still cannot bear to part with that particular piece, a necklace of blue and clear beads.

Over the years, she taught herself how to make more intricate designs and eventually began to find the work more fulfilling than medicine. So she took a hiatus from her career to concentrate on jewellery.

"I won't say I'll never go back into medicine," she says, "but I have a new-found respect for doctors after a year in the trenches with them. But being a doctor is one part of me, it doesn't define me. I like life, people, animals and I want to meet people who aren't stressed because they're sick or dying."

Now she combines semi-precious stones including jade, glass beads, imitation pearls and crystals in producing her pieces. Recently, her works were on display at Cafe Arabia in Abu Dhabi, while she sells others on her Facebook page. But for now, it's all about creating exquisite pieces for her wedding.

To see Al Haddad's work, go to www.facebook.com/jewellerybyadusia