As Fatima Helal Al Blooshi walks onto the set of our photoshoot, her natural beauty radiates. A flawless complexion and gentle eyes, she is softly spoken, but don’t mistake the 35-year-old’s tender demure as shyness – as I quickly discovered when we settled into our conversation.
Fatima has a genuine kind-hearted spirit, and an energy that’s irrefutably magnetic. Professional? Yes. Intellectual? Unquestionably. Graceful? Absolutely. It’s no surprise Fatima has already achieved so much in her multifaceted career which includes positions at the UAE Armed Forces, franchising restaurants and a successful tenure as editor in chief of a luxury lifestyle magazine. The newest string in the illustrious bow of Fatima’s ever-growing list of impressive accomplishments is as director of Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council – a position that both fuels and enables her passion for supporting female entrepreneurs.
Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, Fatima is the middle child of seven siblings. “We are five girls and two boys,” she reveals as she proceeded to tell me that family is immeasurably important. “My family forms the core of my life and is the driving force that keeps me motivated and inspired. My mother was an English teacher with a passion for education. Her achievements were remarkable. My father worked in the military.” Both parents had a profound effect on nurturing and shaping Fatima into the entrepreneurial professional she is today. “From an early age, I was told I had great potential by my mother,” Fatima explains. “I had an interest in fashion, and I remember telling my family about my dream to have my own brand someday.” This, a dream that has never strayed far from Fatima’s mind.
As someone who clearly thrives on learning and seizing new opportunities, Fatima whole-heartedly immerses herself into everything she does. “My position at the armed forces was an important role that significantly shaped my character and taught me the value of commitment and accountability. Becoming an editor in chief was also a substantial and unexpected achievement. It was actually rather overwhelming,” she remembers, “particularly since the magazine, Zahrat Al Khaleej, inspired me throughout my childhood. The role was a huge responsibility, and I received a wonderful response from the community. Transitioning from head of fashion to editor in chief marked a pivotal moment in my career, and provided the opportunity to significantly hone my skills.”
In what is perhaps her most surprising chapter to date, in 2019 Fatima found herself stepping into a very different role alongside her thriving publishing career. “A friend approached me for some advice on an idea she had about opening a restaurant,” Fatima explains. “We brainstormed several concepts and settled on one of my favourite dishes, midye dolma (mussels stuffed with rice) – a popular Turkish street speciality I adore. We discussed and developed the concept in depth, and I was asked to come onboard as a partner. I just thought, why not? I love taking risks.”
Officially opening the doors to Addicted, a name Fatima came up with to pay homage to the Turkish delicacy she self-proclaims being “addicted” to, the Abu Dhabi-based seafood restaurant was an immediate hit. “The restaurant was a huge success, and we ensured the interiors were Instagrammable, which I believe helped in its appeal.” Fatima explains. It wasn’t long before offers to franchise the concept started to roll in, and in its first year of business, Addicted impressively grew to five outposts across the UAE. The victorious entrepreneurs sold the business at its peak, fuelling Fatima’s ambition for future endeavours.
“The experience of Addicted taught me many invaluable skills that have greatly assisted in my new role at Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council,” Fatima shares. “I experienced first-hand the challenges a business owner might face, and I’m now equipped to help find solutions to support and advise other businesswomen. Opening a restaurant was one of the most successful projects I’ve ever been involved in. Dealing with employees, suppliers, marketing and branding was something I didn’t know I had in me.” Fatima smiles. “The experience taught me resilience in trying, in taking risks, and in just going for it. My knowledge and confidence soared on this particular adventure.”
While she is so accustomed to pulling the strings behind the scenes, Fatima is on an upward trajectory to dizzy new heights in the spotlight herself. “Directing the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council and working with the community by empowering others gives me immense motivation and gratification,” she explains. “The role aligns with my values of hard work and giving back to others. What is unique, is the infinite potential to support entrepreneurs, strengthen Abu Dhabi’s business landscape, and contribute to its sustainable economy. The position has also awoken the vision of launching my own brand.”
While Fatima’s own career soars, she is resolute in her mission of championing and nurturing other women in the region, particularly with Emirati Women’s Day around the corner (August 28th). “I truly believe in women supporting one another. Emirati Women’s Day celebrates women’s contributions to the UAE over the years, as well as their aspirations for the future. We should use this day, and every day to cultivate a culture of compassion and to embrace solidarity. My own journey was positively influenced by female leaders who supported me both personally and professionally,” she shares. “I look up to my mother as a role model. She exemplifies the qualities of a wise, strong, successful woman.
Additionally, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak inspires me with her initiatives which support women and recognise their role as the family’s foundation. You can see today how women are shaping the future because of Her Highness’ vision.” Fatima explains. “My objective is to guide the way for others on their own journey, whatever that may be.”
As for the grand plans of launching her own fashion label, she reveals, “The dream has definitely been re-ignited. You will have to watch this space…”
acting editor in chief & creative director Nina Catt
photographer Amer Mohamad
stylist Daniel Negron
makeup artist Julia Rada
photography assistant Yasir Ali
styling assistant Lamya Roslyn
location Garage Studio, Dubai
all jewellery CHAUMET
This article was originally published in Villa 88’s autumn 2023 edition. Subscribe here.