We’ve just arrived in Dubai and we’re already on our way to our first meeting with Noor Al Geziry, who was suggested to us to be our CoolBrands Curator for the United Arab Emirates. In the cab on our way over I pull out my iPad and scroll through my notes. “You know Noor is quite young but she has such an interesting career path and such wide-ranging interests,” I tell Maarten.
“I know!” says Maarten. “I read her profile and was impressed: she studied visual arts and graphic design, got her first job in corporate marketing and branding at a large property developer and then went on to work in the non-profit sector.”
“But at school she was really good at maths and science and she’s also a real people’s person,” I continue.
“And now she’s the vice-chairman of operations in her father’s hospitality and tourism consultancy,” says Maarten.
“It’s an ideal match for our NextWorld Storytelling platform,” I say as I close my iPad and look out of the window at the Dubai Mall rising up in the distance. “Smart, curious, experience in corporate marketing, branding and the non-profit sector, and now tourism…”
“Well, let’s go and see if she thinks so too!” says Maarten as we get out of the cab.
Noor has asked us to meet her at Café Bateel in the Dubai Mall. We find her waiting for us at one of patio tables, sipping a small cup of strong Arabic coffee and intently watching the passersby. “I should probably have studied anthropology or psychology,” she says with a laugh. “I love people watching. Or more accurately: I love learning about people and their lives. Where they come from, what they’re doing, why they do it… It’s like I have an endless curiosity to find out more.”
“And why do you think you have this urge to know more? What drives it?” Maarten – who is now also curious – asks.
Noor thinks for a moment and then says: “I guess it has to do with a desire to bring people, things, ideas and cultures closer together… If I could, I’d travel the world just to explore and experience.”
“I’m interested to know why you left the world of corporate marketing,” I say.
“Working for Emaar Properties was a real learning school,” says Noor. “On so many levels: it taught me about the corporate world, sharpened my skills, but also gave me more insight into other cultures as it’s such an international company. It was an amazing experience.”
“But?” I say.
“But in the end I just felt it wasn’t me,” she says. “That fast-paced life of the high-level corporate world… I just felt that it was not what people or the world are about. And I was curious to explore other areas and learn new things.”
“Noor Al Geziry: A constant quest for the new and unexplored!” says Maarten as if he’s reading a headline.
Noor laughs. “Well you know secretly, I still sometimes dream of studying criminology and becoming a detective… or starring in my own cartoon or maybe even being the storyteller!”
“Well in the meantime,” I say, “while you develop your cartoon alter ego and get your degree in criminology, what do you say to joining our NextWorld Storytelling project and investigating people and their stories for us?”
“I’d love to,” says Noor. “You know me: always ready to explore new things and learn more!”
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