Saudi-born fashion designer Hatem Alakeel believes that freedom, health, empathy, companionship will triumph over wealth, power, status and greed.

How are you finding the transition to a new way of working/life?
It’s a very interesting time to say the least. Especially when it comes to productivity, from the manufacturing to retail. Although, it’s a time for “physical” distancing, it’s a time to connect with family, friends and even your clients. Even on social media, we all have an obligation to uplift each other. Humour is the best medicine. We should not stress too much about what we cannot control and instead try to stay positive on what we can control.

What have been the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges are such as not being able to visit my family in Saudi as I live between Dubai and Jeddah, being forced to close down my boutique in Jeddah. This actually may be a step that many designers who are retailers need to take. We need to all start deep diving into taking the necessary e-commerce steps. Sometimes, some things are a blessing in disguise and we need to look at things more objectively. This will no doubt force all of us to get out of our comfort zones, which is always a good thing.

What’s been the most pleasant surprise?
The most pleasant thing is definitely the sense of online community, empathy and humanity we are all developing not just with close family and close friends, but people we usually overlook such as neighbours, and people in need, or who are less fortunate during this overwhelming lockdown. I also find myself connecting with old school friends, who I have not had the chance to connect to which is also quite a blessing. The most pleasant surprise is to notice how the quarantine has triggered in all of us a sense of humanity and empathy. As mentioned the small things in life that we took for granted from going to the gym to meeting up with friends. Freedom, health, empathy, companionship have triumphed over wealth, power, status and greed. Literally overnight,  a return to more substantial and important values.

What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future are that we take this experience as a red flag and an eye opener into realizing what a wrong turn our world was taking and how it was certainly a time for a major “Reset  “and reboot both in the way we treated our planet and how we treated each other. We cannot go back to the way were and must move forward in our thinking and our sense of humanity.

What message do you have for Grazia readers?
Remember that: “Tough times don’t last but though people do.“ We must remember that the distancing maybe challenging, but it will save lives and we will all come out of this stronger and wiser and as a stronger unit with our friends, families and communities. We are definitely witnessing a rise of humanity here let’s keep it going even after quarantine.

Photo: Supplied