Hashem Montasser, Founder of the The Lighthouse Restaurant & Concept Store in the UAE, is a raconteur who avidly follows the work of arts, culture, technology and, of course, food. In a series of conversations aimed at introducing its audience to the Middle East’s entrepreneurial landscape, Hashem asks his guests about their life journeys, inspirations, successes and failures and everything in-between.
New episodes available every second Thursday.
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“The thrill of the chase has always been my thing.” The Lighthouse friend Ayman Fakoussa on launching The Qode, balancing friendship with business, and why he can’t let go of Microsoft Excel.
Diving into the joy of Guatemalan retreats and the love of Microsoft Excel, Hashem sits with Ayman Fakoussa this week to have a wide-ranging conversation. Hashem and Ayman chat about his experience growing up in Saudi Arabia before eventually moving to Dubai and embarking on a multi-faceted career that culminated in launching his own communications firm, The Qode, at the young age of 30 (with partner Dipesh Depala). Hashem and Ayman also discuss the entrepreneurial energy of Dubai, navigating the pandemic, why The Qode decided to enter the Saudi market, Ayman’s dedication to philanthropy, and…the ubiquity of proverbial buses!
Summer Throwback: HE Zaki Nusseibeh on the importance of storytelling in building identities
In this throwback episode to our live episode at The Lighthouse: HE Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh shares personal anecdotes from his childhood in Jerusalem, the early days of the UAE when he worked as a translator for HH Sheikh Zayed and the development of its arts and culture scene. While sharing snapshots from his various life experiences with the arts, Zaki weaves a thread between his passion for the arts, storytelling and their impact on not just our imagination but also our identity. We’d love to hear what you think of the live episode.
We’ll be back with new episodes in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can connect with us on on Instagram and find all of our episodes on our website.
Summer Throwback: Ahmad Al Marri on launching Canvas Gelato against the odds and why community support was crucial to his success.
In this throwback episode from 2022: Hashem invited Ahmad Al Marri, Founder of Dubai-based ice cream brand Canvas Gelato to the hot seat. Launched in 2017, Canvas Gelato’s raison d'être is to produce ice cream that is made exclusively with “real” ingredients and delivered at negative 70 degrees celsius. Ahmad’s ice cream delivery concept proved successful and was soon supplied to major outlets including local chocolate maker darling Mirzam and featured by international media such as Monocle magazine.
This was a deeply candid conversation where Ahmad talked about his entrepreneurial journey including imposter syndrome and, well, we ate lots of gelato! You can leave us a review in your podcast app, and find us on Instagram.
Summer Throwback: Myrna Ayad on the evolution & perception of Middle East art (2019)
In this throwback to our first episode from 2019: Hashem talks to Mryna Ayad, the former Editor-in-Chief of art magazine Canvas and now an independent art consultant who continues to shape the way art & artists from the Middle East are represented internationally. In addition to her professional journey that took her from Canvas to Director of Art Dubai, Mryna shares her perspective as a working mother and her mission to shape the perspective of external audiences when it comes to Middle East art.
Myrna has since then, among many other writing and art related activities, released the book Sheikh Zayed: An Eternal Legacy which she talked about on the episode. She was also the conveyer for the new book release Cairo Eternal by Mai ElDib, whom we’ve had on the show this past June.
We would love to hear back from you on what you thought about this episode. You can leave us a review in your podcast app, and find us on Instagram.
“As a Khaleeji guy, I had to prove myself over and over.” Meshary AlNassar on finding his footing as a designer, navigating interior design trends and the benefit of having a good eye.
Our guest is up-and-coming designer Meshary AlNassar. Hailing from Kuwait, Meshary’s journey into interior design started during childhood with American TV pop culture influences The Oprah Winfrey Show and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Hashem and Meshary discuss his “design education” surrounded by an all-female cohort and how he managed to navigate societal disapproval as a Khaleeji designer. Meshary shares how he balances aesthetics vs. technical know-how, maximalism vs. minimalism, clients’ expectations vs. personal input, and how his Kuwaiti dentist became an unlikely pivotal client. Hashem and Meshary also chat about all things Kuwait and why Kim K’s house went viral!
“There is nothing wrong with romanticizing Cairo.” Mai Eldib on her book ‘Cairo Eternal’ and what makes Cairo magical.
Cairo, mon amour! This week Hashem catches up with Sotheby’s veteran Mai Eldib, whose recent book release ‘Cairo Eternal’ was instantly sought after even by the iconic Fifi Abdou. Hashem and Mai bond over their experiences in Cairo—from overbearing doormen to the perpetual noise factor. Leaving giddiness aside, they agree that what makes Cairo magical, beyond its vast history and layered complexity, is the communal mindset of its people.
Mohamed Elshahed on tracing Cairo’s human experience, one building at a time
Nadia Wassef on narrative structure, trafficking in nostalgia and life after publishing a debut memoir