Kamelia ZaalA new business, a new garden, a new beginning

I have had an exceptional couple of months, between working on Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi, speaking at the International Plants Expo Middle East and most importantly, deciding to set up my own company again. It’s been, to say the least, hectic but, in saying that, I have never felt so positive in my life.

'The Beauty of Islam' Design Kamelia bin Zaal. Photo Fiona Ericsson

‘The Beauty of Islam’ show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015. Design Kamelia Zaal. Photo Fiona Ericsson

I have loved this year in its entirety and something has shifted for me and I believe that Chelsea Flower Show was the catalyst. I am still reeling over what an experience it was and will never take for granted the confidence that it gave me to really push myself even harder to reach my goals.

After Chelsea I obviously felt pretty flat for a while as its hard to come crashing down to earth after such an experience and more than anything you miss your friends you make along the way, most of whom I now consider family. I honestly suddenly questioned what I wanted out of life and so the doubt crept in and the lack of self-confidence came back. But all for a good reason; it’s times like these that make us re-evaluate and hopefully come out on top. This was when I felt I needed to break away from the last 10 years of my life working with the family.

It was the toughest decision of my life but the most freeing. I have given my all in creating Al Barari with my family, the most sustainable and eco conscious development of the UAE, however sometimes you have to cut the cord so that you can fly, and so I am hopefully about to take off.

BEFORE: Nurai Island reception area

BEFORE: Nurai Island reception area

AFTER: Resort reception area Nurai Island

AFTER: Resort reception area Nurai Island

AFTER: Installing the new planting for the reception area

AFTER: Installing the new planting for the reception area

During this time I got the opportunity to work at Nurai Island by Zaya, an equally amazing project off the capital of Abu Dhabi. I am obviously slightly biased as the project was developed by my very talented sister Nadia Zaal and, with its beautiful very exclusive estate villas, water villas, boutique resort and spa, its right up my alley way. So I was called in to give the landscape an overhaul.

BEFORE: Entrance to Frangipani restaurant

BEFORE: Entrance to Frangipani restaurant

AFTER - entrance to Frangipani restaurant

AFTER – entrance to Frangipani restaurant

AFTER: Frangipani restaurant

AFTER: Frangipani restaurant

The first stage was completed mid September, which included the reception area, entrance, main pathways to the aptly named ‘Frangipani’, all day dining restaurant, and Smokin Pineapple, the beach/pool bar. I’ll keep you posted as it progresses.

BEFORE: Pathway behind the Pool

BEFORE: Pathway behind the Pool

AFTER: Pathway behind the Pool

AFTER: Pathway behind the Pool

Pool area paving during construction

BEFORE: Pool area during construction

AFTER: Nurai island pool area

AFTER: Nurai island pool area

AFTER: Nurai island pool area

AFTER: Nurai island pool area

At the beginning of last month I had the priviledge of speaking at the International Plant Expo. IPM Dubai has established itself as the leading trade show for the horticultural industry in the Gulf Region. During the event there was the Middle East Floral Design Excellence Award and seminars on Garden and Landscaping.

However what I found the most fascinating was what a huge industry it is and how ignorant I was about where the flowers are grown. The flower suppliers are from all over the world; South America, Africa, China, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Germany and USA to name a few…well those other than Holland. Although cut flowers are not my thing it was amazing to see the strength of an industry up close. I did however find some great nurseries from Europe that supply some beautiful specimen trees and plants and so it was a very productive afternoon.

Middle East Floral Design Excellence Award

One thing I am getting excited about is how Dubai is preparing for Expo 20/20 and what steps the Dubai Municipality are taking to make our landscape green and lush for 20/20 but at the same time balance this with sustainable landscaping techniques. A topic I think I will look into and share with you further as we closer to the Middle East Smart Landscaping Summit in April 2016.

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Kamelia Zaal

About Kamelia Zaal

After studying landscape garden design at London's renowned Inchbald School of Design, Kamelia returned to Dubai inspired to create intuitive and stylised outdoor living spaces. Shortly thereafter she began her career as a freelance garden designer working on residential villas until she established her own landscape architectural practice, Second Nature, in 2006, working on both large commercial projects and unique residential jobs. Kamelia later formed an association with her family's prestigious property development company, Al Barari, where Second Nature, now part of Greenworks, created the lush botanic surrounds and themed gardens that the address has become recognised for. In 2013, she was featured on the front cover of The UK Garden Design Journal for her work with Al Barari and several other projects. She is regularly cited as an expert in the garden landscape industry, having been featured in Inside Out, Garden and Landscape Designers Association Compass magazine, and Landscape Middle East. In her free time, Zaal goes trekking and mountain climbing for charity, and spends time with her son.

One thought on “A new business, a new garden, a new beginning

  1. Wonderful to see how much more plant-filled this resort became after you got involved!

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