Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Portrait of a Nation: the Emirati behind Fujairah’s official brand identity

Ruba Haza speaks to Kholoud Al Kendi, a talented designer of eye-catching logos for Fujairah FC and the emirate’s Rulers

Kholoud Al Kendi, founder of Retaj Design, is a young Emirati entrepreneur who left her job as a banker to follow her passion for graphic design Reem Mohammed / The National
Kholoud Al Kendi, founder of Retaj Design, is a young Emirati entrepreneur who left her job as a banker to follow her passion for graphic design Reem Mohammed / The National

Kholoud Al Kendi left her job as a banker to follow her passion, and now owns her own design and media solutions company.

The young Emirati entrepreneur, 33, now owns a business that began with designing a logo for her uncle’s restaurant and now has UAE Division One team Fujairah FC and the emirate’s government among her clients.

“I grew up with a passion for the arts and my parents encouraged me to bring out my talent,” says Ms Al Kendi. “They would provide me with paper and colours. I wasn’t that good at painting but I enjoyed mixing colours and drawing.

“Art played an important role in my life and helped to create the person that I am today. My eagerness to find my true passion led me to graphic design.” After graduating from secondary school Ms Al Kendi was accepted to the business administration college at UAE University in Al Ain.

But everything changed in her second year when another student introduced her to Photoshop.

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“I couldn’t believe that it could change lots of parts of a picture, particularly the background, and it immediately caught my attention,” Ms Al Kendi says. “I bought my first laptop and used it to find out more about how to use Photoshop.

“It was a whole new world to me and I couldn’t stop reading up on it. In my third year, one of my friends asked me to design their graduation invitation and that’s when I first started real designing.

“It opened many doors for me and a lot of people started contacting me and asking me to create invitations. I couldn’t say no because I loved it.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she began working at a Fujairah bank.

“While working at the bank, my uncle asked me to design a logo for his restaurant,” Ms Al Kendi says.“It was a turning point in my career.”

In 2011, Ms Al Kendi resigned from her role at the bank and used her savings to open Retaj Designs and Media Solution, with four employees.

“I didn’t make a profit during the first three years but it was worth it and I was happy,” she says.

Two years later, Ms Al Kendi received a call from a member of Fujairah’s Royal Family.

“I designed a number of logos and branding for Sheikh Maktoum bin Hamad Al Sharqi, chairman of the Fujairah Sports Cultural Club, who then nominated me to modify the Fujairah FC logo,” she says.

In 2015, Ms Al Kendi won a Shamsa bint Suhail Award for creative women and last year she launched her Fujairah FC logo to celebrate the arrival of a new coach, none other than Diego Maradona.

Football legend Diego Maradona poses alongside the Fujairah FC logo designed by Ms Al Kendi Fujairah Football Club. Courtesy Fujairah Football Club
Football legend Diego Maradona poses alongside the Fujairah FC logo designed by Ms Al Kendi Fujairah Football Club. Courtesy Fujairah Football Club

“It’s a shield-shaped logo that is part of the emirate’s identity and heritage, combined with dome shapes that represent the area’s history,” she says. “The sketch of a wolf’s head in the middle reflects the club’s famous nickname – the Red Wolves.”

After that, Ms Al Kendi was asked to design the Fujairah government’s new logo.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was a dream come true and having this opportunity to design the government’s new identity was part of my duty to the country and a way to show my appreciation and loyalty.

“Seeing my designs printed on all the government’s official documents and events made me feel proud of my work.

“It gave me the opportunity to create more designs for other government entities.”

Since then Ms Al Kendi has created the logo of the Fujairah Fine Arts Academy and Fujairah Adventure Centre, and events such as the Fujairah Arabian Horse Championship and the sixth the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, which was held in the emirate this year.

“My next big project is to design the theme of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Russia next year,” she says.

Updated: December 21, 2018 09:45 AM

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