In the latest installment of HYPEBEAST Diaries, we follow a day in the life of Cheb Moha as he shines a light on Dubai’s hottest creative and cultural hubs.
For the Iraqi, Dubai-based multi-hyphenate creative, the city is a melting pot for emerging talent. This bubbling scene continues to inspire his work across a range of projects as well as providing a unique perspective to global campaigns. “I can create based on my existence here,” he explains. “Whether it’s places I go to hang out, where I like to eat, what I like to do. It’s like we’re best friends, me and Dubai.”
Cheb Moha, however, wasn’t always designing, taking photos or directing, speaking on his first love he says, “Growing up, football was my main priority in life.” This passion turned into reality when he received a sports scholarship at a university in Canada but after being dropped from the team, he was faced with spare time to focus on other outlets. Here is where he found photography. Bringing his cultural identity to shoots with the likes of Majid Jordan and Pharrell, his images have been featured in several high-profile publications. “I was going out every day taking pictures. That was my life,” he explains on his journey as a photographer. “I never knew it’ll lead to this moment where it’s actually a job now.”
Meeting up with artist and Shabab Intl. creative, Chndy at their studio, Moha takes Hypebeast through some unreleased products from the label. “We’re trying to create a new design language,” says Chndy. “Every time we create something [new], we create another design language. We’re in 2050 already.” Even though next year they’ll be celebrating a decade since the launch of the brand, Moha still feels Shabab Intl. is at the start of its journey. 10 years in, the brand’s ethos remains the same, “The main thing is to have an Arab identity through a streetwear lens that people can have access to,” Moha explains.
Walking through Alserkal Avenue, one of Dubai’s key cultural hubs, Moha and Chndy reminisce on the area that provided them with a platform during their come-up. It was here where they held their first pop-up, exhibited artwork at the Concrete gallery space as well as connected with local creatives. “It’s a free space where everyone can come and be themselves,” Moha says, as he reflects on how he’s been able to explore and nurture his creativity. One of their highlights was being enlisted to design the interior of the nearby independent Cinema Akil, kitting the foyer out with vintage posters and up-cycling the entire seating area of the main screen rooms.
“I’ve always had this magnet that would push me to Dubai. It pinpoints all the things that make me who I am,” he says of the city. “It allows you to be independent as a [creative].” As well as stopping by Amongst Few’s lifestyle store and the Omakase restaurant Moonrise, Cheb Moha not only sees the founders as business owners but as friends that share the same cultural heritage, creative vision and desire to spotlight regional talent. Together, they breathe creative energy into the city with new stories and ideas. Speaking about his hometown, Moha explains, “There are amazing designers, photographers and artists from the UAE. It’s cool because it’s a space where I can collaborate with other people.”
Check out the full HYPEBEAST Diaries episode with Cheb Moha in the video above.
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