Undefined Declarations’ List: Top 10 Tips for Making it in the Creative Industry



When I first decided to change careers from IT to journalism back in 2008, I had no idea about the way to get there. I didn’t realize that it would be a completely different route to what I was used to, or to how I eventually got my IT job. Doing things the hard way – without anyone to guide me, assist or support me – I must say that I learned the lessons in the best way possible: by trial and error.

Comparing my previous career and work experience to what I do now is a very hard task. They’re two completely different fields and work environments. But, I will give you a brief idea to help you understand and maybe get inspired to make a similar change or adjustment to what you currently do.

I had a degree in Business Information Systems from the University of Bahrain. And after working in IT support for around four years, I decided to quit my job and pursue my passion: writing. I was 28, a year later, I moved to London to take a foundation course with London College of Fashion. After completing one term of A-Level equivalent and intensive study, I decided to move to Dubai to start interning for publishing companies in the hopes of landing an editorial role along the way…It’s the year 2014 and I’m still working towards that same goal that I had aimed for when I moved here in 2010. Except that these days, I have learned so many lessons along the way and I would like to share them with anyone who is working towards a similar goal or is looking into becoming a creative professional and earning a living out of it.


1. Start doing the creative work

While it might work otherwise in other industries – get a degree then apply for a job. In the creative industry, it’s the other way around. You must start by doing the work that you aspire to get paid for. Since employers will only hire you after they have seen your actual work and how you can add value to their organization and goals. Plus, doing the actual work will greatly help in improving your skills and expertise.


2. Do unpaid work

Freelancing and offering your services for free is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a great way to build your portfolio – because you will need one in order to get paid for your work. So keep doing unpaid work for as long as it takes to get paid for your work and to be accredited for it.


3. Work 24/7

Working in a fun and creative environment is a good thing, but you must be prepared to work without taking breaks. Fixed working hours aren’t part of the game. There’s always something new to learn, some project to work on, a new and exciting idea to consider…The cool thing is that you get to be your own boss and you can manage your time according to your personal preferences.


4. Take notes of your ideas and put them into action

Whether it’s your next blog post, photo shoot, short video, web site design, you need to keep coming with fresh and new ideas. Most importantly, put those ideas into action by implementing them into that blog post, photo shoot, video or web page.


5. Love what you do

Any entrepreneur will give you this advise really. You must do what you do with passion if you want to get to anywhere. The monetary return will not appear in the first stages, so you must do what you love in order to have the passion to keep doing it even when the going gets tough and when you are not making any profit out of it.


6. Network, network, network

One of the essential elements of the creative industry is networking. Find out about relevant events and make an effort to attend them. Not only will you learn more about the market, you will also meet new people who share your interests and passions. Building positive and meaningful connections with others in your industry is vitally important.


7. Have casual meetings with like-minded people

Whether it’s over coffee, lunch, dinner or even breakfast, meeting with others from similar industries is a great way to share ideas, discuss various topics and maybe learn new tips and market information. Supporting others in their own career goals is always a great way to build positive and healthy relationships with others in your industry. The road is always more entertaining when traveled with others.


8. Work in creative hubs and open spaces

Whether you choose to work from your local neighborhood cafe, head to the nearest spot of big chain coffee shops, or collaborate with others at one of the work spaces in town, it’s always better than working from home. Being a creative professional – especially when writing – can be a lonely experience. So surrounding yourself with others in an open and busy environment is the best way to go. You will also feel more motivated to work in an environment where everyone around you is working in front of their laptops or doing some sort of productive work.


9. Read, learn, study

Taking a short course or working towards a degree in your chosen creative field will only add to your knowledge and build up your confidence. If you can’t afford a course, simply read online articles about your topic or any topic for that matter! Staying updated with what’s happening in your industry will help keep you ahead of others and boost your knowledge levels.


10. Never give up!

Reaching your goals in the creative industry and getting paid for your work could be an extremely lengthy process. It could take years before you could get published or be taken seriously by potential employers. But the trick here is to never give up and to continue working hard towards your goals. Even if no one reads your blog posts, supports you or what you’re doing, or thinks that you have great ideas, you must stay fixed to your target and aim to achieve it no matter how challenging things get. Keep reminding yourself of why you chose to do this in the first place and how long it took you to get to where you are. You must fuel yourself from your own energy, ambition and inner power.




UD Recipe Story: Aubergine & Chilli Pasta



I’ve started to go more vegetarian with my food choices recently, in an attempt to become more healthy and clean. And since I love aubergines especially when teamed with rich tomato sauce and baked in the oven – yes I’m talking about that delicious Italian starter – parmigiana.

Today’s recipe isn’t exactly Italian, but it’s a very tasty and authentic one that I got from BBC Good Food ME magazine and decided to try out.

Here’s the recipe from the magazine:

recipe from BBC Good Food ME magazine
recipe from BBC Good Food ME magazine


I decided to get spaghetti instead of the type of pasta recommended in the recipe, because I wanted to go for the whole grain choice…




The main ingredients:



You start by cutting your aubergine into bite-sized cubes:



Then chop the tomatoes and onions…



Start cooking the onions, aubergine and oregano…



Then add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and 200ml water…



While this colorful mixture cooks on low heat for 20  minutes, you can start cooking your choice of pasta…



Once your sauce is thickened in the other pan, and the tomatoes reduced and softened, you can add the vegetables to the drained pasta…







And voila! there you have it!



Note: I skipped the red chilli in this recipe – not because I’m not a fan of spicy food – but because I could only get a pack with tons of it and I didn’t want to buy a whole army of chillis…However, I must admit that the chilli is a main ingredient in this dish and skipping it will greatly influence the taste of the pasta.  It still was OK, but I could tell that there was something missing. So I highly recommend that you add the chilli to give this dish the zest and rich flavor it deserves 🙂


Aubergine and Chilli Pasta
Aubergine and Chilli Pasta

Personal Post: When Business Always Comes First



Upon observing my long-term single status and extremely selective approach to men, a friend directed this question to me: “What do you look for in a man?”.

I answered with some simple traits like someone who is mature, wise and understanding. I also like people who are very deep and intellectual. But I forgot to mention a highly important quality that is probably at the top of my list – except that it’s not something that is constantly on my mind. My response to my caring friend’s question would’ve been something like this: “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t view me as a business opportunity or investment.”

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with controlling, highly opinionated and self-centered parents. They would always put their careers and business matters as a top priority, and wouldn’t let anything else get in the way. Even if that other thing that required their attention was their own children! Now I won’t get into too much detail as this article won’t be sufficient enough to talk about this subject, but I will give you some examples to make my point clear. Throughout my school years, my dad would often ask me about the names of the fathers of my friends and what they did for a living – not out of simple curiosity – but purely to see if there was an underlying business connection that could be of interest to him.

While on a leisure trip to a nearby Arab country, the private cab driver – who we hired for the short trip – noticed how my mom’s commutes revolved around her business and relevant exhibitions or meetings. After a few days of the same routine, the witty and observant driver asked my mother why she wasn’t giving any attention to my needs or my interests to visit places for the main cause of any leisure trip: fun!

But now that I live relatively far away from my mostly selfish and business-obsessed parents (the UAE was the furthest I could go for now), I was recently faced by another similar situation. A specific incident is what inspired me to write this post. Having visited a highly reputable dermatologist in town a couple of times, I was incredibly shocked at the way she ended my last visit to her. She has decided that since I am no longer continuing with the skin treatment that she has prescribed to me (due to undesirable side effects), that she no longer needs to see me again. Now, what was surprising is that I still had a few months on the medication and I was asking her if I could come back for a follow-up once I am done…but she made it clear that she doesn’t want me to come back for a follow-up. The thing is that the follow-up session is not free of charge, and most dermatologists usually see their patients at the end of any skin treatment to review the results (I’ve been going to dermatologists since I was 10), but what I concluded from my visits to her and from her business mindset, she didn’t want to see me again because she had more important (and most likely more valuable) patients on the waiting list!

When did medical care that was created for the sole purpose of “caring”, accommodating and supporting people’s needs turn into this greed-centered and purely commercial game? Why was this popular and experienced dermatologist treating her patients as business entities and cash flow machines? Does she think she is in such high demand that no one would ever complain or spread negative stories about her personal ethics and immoral ways of dealing with patients?

My parents and the extremely greedy dermatologist are not the only ones who have contributed to my hurtful memories and scarred soul, but I will leave the rest of my stories for another post.

So to answer my loving and caring friend’s question about what do I look for in a partner, it’s as simple as this:

I look for someone who doesn’t see me as a business opportunity or investment. But someone who is genuinely interested in me and in who I am as a person and a human being. Someone who is truly loving and caring, who will constantly support me and be there for me through thick and thin.

If what I’m looking for sounds too idealistic and unrealistic for today’s world, then I’d rather live in eternal solitude than repeat the painful story of my past and sadly recurring present.

Cultural Post: The “Bubble” Life



As most days in the city of Dubai, it was hot and sunny and I was walking at the Marina promenade after a nice breakfast at a cafe in the area. And as I was lost in my own trail of silly thoughts – mostly about planning what to do next – a certain sight caught my attention and brought back intense and sad memories.

The image that made me look was that of a teenage girl wearing a loose fitting grey T-shirt and short denim shorts speeding away on a skateboard. While this could be a very ordinary sight for most people from Western countries, for me; this was nothing but a purely broken dream!

As a Saudi teenager living in Saudi, and at the same time being exposed to the Western world and lifestyle through TV, books, travel or the city’s expat residential compounds, I very badly wanted to own a skateboard and ride it somewhere (even if it’s in our house’s garden). I must admit that I was more of a tomboy back in those days. So being able to skateboard was my ultimate dream at the time. But because I was living in a country where you had to adhere to certain rules and regulations, and because I was the daughter of highly over-protective and controlling parents, my dream was buried and never saw life.

When I reflect on this incident today, as a 30-something year old Saudi living in the UAE, I can say that my restrictions have diminished, but surely haven’t been completely eliminated. I believe that even after our physical restrictions have been removed; in my case it was my parents’ controlling and over-protective behaviour, the effects and imprints of those conditioned beliefs continue to haunt us.

The ironic part of it is that I’ve seen this kind of unconscious attachment to restricting thoughts or actions in some of the people I have met who don’t necessarily come from strict countries or cultures. We all share one thing in common though, we were raised in a restricting environment, and have been trained to always act, behave or speak in a specific manner. We were always under the scrutiny of someone, whether it was our parents, spouses, family members or even the communities we lived in.

It’s astonishing how we continue to limit ourselves and our life experiences long after those boundaries and restrictions have been removed. Sometimes, our thoughts follow the same confining patterns that we have developed over the years. And it becomes almost impossible to break free from limiting behaviours and thoughts that we don’t agree with or want to possess.

After many years of being confined, oppressed, and judged for the simplest of things, an imaginary bubble is created. Sadly for some of us who have lived in that bubble for the most part of our childhood, adolescent and adult life, breaking away and bursting that bubble for good proves to be a highly challenging and time-consuming task.

Luckily, the Universe has helped me meet some good people – who later became friends – who share my “bubble” life story, can understand my struggles, and can strongly relate to my dreams and aspirations. Despite the fact that we are all still relatively living in that bubble, I believe that with the support of a strong social circle, we can all grow and evolve to become the free spirits that we were born to be.

Having said that, I’m not so sure how I would look wearing a casual T-shirt and hot denim shorts while skateboarding in my fifties! As it might take me a while to eventually get to that kind of personal freedom. I guess we’ll have to wait and see :)



UD Recipe Story: Chickpea Tomato Soup

Chickpea Tomato Soup
Chickpea Tomato Soup


When I’m not blogging, commuting to the other end of town to attend a lecture at University, working on my school projects, complaining about being single to almost anyone who would listen, or doing anything that will add some value to the world and the human species, then I can be found doing something of major relevance: day-dreaming about being a house-wife who spends the day trying out different recipes, watching repeats of cooking TV shows, going for Pilates, yoga or other fitness classes, catching up with friends, and writing on this blog in the evenings.

OK, maybe my life isn’t that far fetched from my imaginary one…the point is, that I absolutely love and truly enjoy doing my own thing! Ever since I was young, I would plan out my day into different slots – each with a type of activity. At the time, they could be things as silly as watching a certain TV show, or doing rounds around the house! Yes, I used to be a very weird teenager 🙂

Hopefully, if I continue to work hard towards my dreams, one day I will meet prince charming and those day-dreams of mine will become a reality 😀

I would still like to write my biography though….so that would be one activity that I would dedicate some time for 🙂

Enough ranting about my life, let’s move on to talking about this recipe post…


As many of you know, I was feeling a bit under the weather last week. And since I live alone, I decided to cure my cold and make myself a home-made soup from scratch! I must admit, I do feel much better now, especially after trying to eat more freshly made salads at home and try to eat less at restaurants.

My previous recipe post – if you missed it – was for a super healthy and nutritious smoothie. You can check it here.


I got the recipe for this tasty and wholesome soup from a food blogger’s web site. You can get the ingredients and the recipe from her blog here.
I’ll take you through the steps of when I made the soup with pictures.

1st, the ingredients:




The Ingredients
The Ingredients


This is what the soup looked like while it was being cooked 🙂




Et Voila! A healthy and tasty home-made soup 🙂




Having coconut milk in soup adds a new dimension to the flavor. It also gives the soup more richness and so it becomes more filling and could also replace a meal.

If you don’t like the taste of coconut milk in soup or in food in general, then I would suggest that you simply skip that ingredient and just make the soup without coconut milk.


I’m really excited to try out more recipes (that include solid food!) when I get the chance. I also plan to get my friends involved and have them make their favorite home-inspired dish or appetizer. So, stay tuned to the blog and the Facebook Page for more ideas, inspirations and healthy lifestyle posts 🙂