x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Favourite Things: Amalie Beljafla

Amalie Beljafla, a half-Arab, half-Norwegian artist, shares with us what she's reading, doing, consuming, loving and looking at in the second of our six-part summer series.

The internationally recognised half-Arab, half-Norwegian artist Amalie-Suhaila bint Farag Beljafla grew up in the UAE and spent her summers in Norway and Spain. Growing up with her father's Bedouin family and being exposed to her Scandinavian roots, her artwork has always been influenced by the differences between the two cultures.

My favourite scent is Alien by Thierry Mugler and Dolce&Gabbana Light Blue.

My favourite book is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It was given to me by a dear person and it truly changed my life both spiritually and physically.

My favourite films are Avatar and The Count of Monte Cristo. In Avatar, there were a lot of issues and deep meanings evoked beautifully.

My favourite food is Norwegian fare: brown cheese, oxtail soup and komla, a traditional dish.

My favourite clothes are by Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen, Manish Arora and Mary Katrantzou. I love how these designers intertwine art and fashion.

My favourite photograph is Dovima with the Elephants by Richard Avedon. The contrast and lighting are just perfect.

My favourite painting is Salvador Dali's Butterfly Sails. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation, and the fact that they are used as the sails of a boat portrays a deep meaning of the journey of life we all go through.

My favourite piecein my wardrobe is my gold and red custom-made matador jacket.

My favourite place is the Maldives. I remember spending my Eid holidays there with my family. The water was crystal clear. We would snorkel around the bay with beautiful coloured fish and sea creatures that we had never seen before. I have never, ever encountered anything so breathtaking in my life. Another place I love is Vats, Norway, where my mother is from - the beautiful fjords, fresh food, green forests and the amazing mornings after a heavy night of rain.

My favourite products are my Nimue products, especially the Vitamin C Moisture Mist. I also swear by Argan oil.

Nothing to me is more important than my spiritual life and my relationships with my loved ones.

Being stylish means being able to represent yourself as an individual and having a sense of aesthetics.

The grooming treatments I can't live without are Moroccan baths, facials, manicures and pedicures.

My hero is my mother, Sofie Skogen.

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of Jeffery Campbell's studded shoes.

An unforgettable place I've travelled toin the past year is Paris, with my dear friend Nisreen. We travelled by train, and it was an experience I will never forget. We had a beautiful dinner at Ferdi and enjoyed a hot chocolate at Cafe de Flore.

A city I would most like to live in would be somewhere by the sea, with a mixed culture. A place not too far away from family or Europe in general.

I still dream to get my children's book, based on positive thinking, published this year. I also want to complete my collaboration with the Filipino haute couture designer Ezra Santos. I would also love to do my masters at the Royal College of Art in London.

My greatest achievements so far are setting up a business with my close friend Soraya Al Ali, the online fashion boutique Tresors Sauvages, and giving a percentage of the earnings from three of my paintings to the charity Kids Go Live.

The traits I value most in my friends are honesty, positivity and trustworthiness. Not all people have the best intentions for you, so I have a few close friends who I know will always be there for me. That's it. The rest are just acquaintances.

The best piece of advice I have ever been given was by my mother: "Don't cast pearls before swine. Be grateful for every little thing you have. Dream big and have faith in God and his universe and all you desire will manifest in divine time. Have no expectations from anyone. Live in the moment. Love yourself." My mother is my best friend, my sister, my everything. She pushes me on, even when doors shut down. She truly has had a huge impact on my success as an artist.

I never leave home without my camera. I love capturing memories. I also always have a pen and a small notebook, in case I get any random ideas. And my two bracelets which I never ever take off, one which my mother gave me - it's like a small gold pendant, prayed over and blessed by spiritual workers from India. It's supposed to bring luck and give protection. The second bracelet I got was for my 20th birthday. It was a gift from someone who I shared a deep connection with and admired.

My favourite way to relax is to be by the beach, laying down in the sun, thinking about nothing, reading Paulo Coelho's stories. Also, going for a long hack with my horses in the desert or up by the fjords.

Visit www.amalie-suhaila.com for more information on the artist.