Sabia Fatayri: "Mediocrity Is not an Option"
Posted on November 25, 2015

Sabia Fatayri, an Ogilvy creative grew up during the war, yet was not affected negatively because she was surrounded by love. When she became her own person, she took it upon herself to bring joy back to people’s lives and every passing day affords her many chances to do exactly that. Following are some of the insights the Senior Art Director at Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai revealed about what makes her excel.

What first sparked your interest in advertising?
Growing up in a war-torn country allows you to unknowingly grow survival skills and be creative. I remember when my sister and I would be watching a movie and the power would go out leaving me to imagine what the ending could have been so I could tell her. On that subject, my favourite movie was E.T. I love E.T.! In my mind, he never left and always stayed with Elliot. 
I also remember when we had to run down to the shelter to escape the shelling. We used to call it our ‘Cave of Fun’ and would come up with the best games to kill time. We didn’t fully understand what was going on, but knew something was wrong. Although I was exposed to harsh circumstances, I didn’t want sadness to triumph and I promised myself that one day, I will bring joy to people who have lost the ability to feel it. That, coupled with my sense of imagination drove me into advertising. 

What gets you up in the morning?
Knowing that everyday I have an opportunity to do something that can positively affect people and how they live. The first award I won in 2009 was truly an eye-opener; it made me realise that even though I am not a politician or a businesswoman, I too have a powerful tool in my hands: the power of communication. As a creative and along with my team, we constantly think of innovative ways to communicate to people, raise awareness on issues and most importantly, encourage them to take action by creating solutions for them.
So, what gets me up in the morning is knowing I can create ads that speak to people, campaigns that answer problems and just like that, start global conversations. I’m proud to have created an idea that did exactly that, and as a result won the Middle East’s first Titanium Cannes Lion for “UN Women -The Autocomplete Truth”.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The unknown. Every morning, there is an issue that needs new solutions and innovative ideas. It’s such a diverse industry, which leaves no time to get bored. I could be looking at a new way to sell diapers one day and the next create an awareness campaign for women’s equality. 

What would you say is your strongest skill?
Positivity. I don’t focus on the negatives. In this industry, we are constantly facing challenges and having to come up with solutions, which is why to survive, you have to take on feedback with a positive attitude and find a new solution that suits all parties.

Who do you ultimately want to become?
I want to stay myself. I want to achieve many things in the future, yes; but I’ll get to them in the future. For now, I am happy to grab every opportunity and continue to achieve my goals. I want to touch people’s lives and draw a smile on their face. I want them to see that they deserve so much. And for them, I want to come up with initiatives that will make them and myself proud. That’s why I want to stay myself. 

What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?
What don’t I do! Of course, like many other creative souls, I visit a whole list of websites and try to watch as many movies as possible, no matter what language they’re in. I also travel every chance I get. Seeing how other cultures live helps me understand how trends are born. And best of all, it feeds creativity and inspires innovative ideas. 

What’s your motto in life?
My motto in is inspired by Rumi’s saying: “Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”

What keeps you in the game?
As a creative in a fast-moving industry, I constantly have to challenge myself to improve my skills, strive for perfection – mediocrity is not an option – I always have to learn new techniques and stay up-to-date with the latest trends. 

What keeps you up at night?
My neighbours having fun at their house party! 

What music have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been hooked on reggae music lately. There’s something about it that’s so soothing to the brain and the beat just puts me in such a good mood! 

What is the gadget you cannot live without? 
Definitely my phone! Nowadays, our phones are what keep us connected to one another and to what’s happening around the world. 

What can we find on your phone? 
My dad’s picture. He is my role model, a determined man who, in times of war, spoke his mind, stood by his beliefs and died for his beliefs. I have grown to know him through the legacy he left behind. And he is the reason I don’t give up. 

What quality do you most look up to in a woman?
Confidence. A confident woman will achieve whatever she sets her mind to. 

Who would you like to sit next to on a seven-hour flight?
I would love to be seated next to a storyteller and let the words take me into a different world. 

What business tip would you give the newbies?
Conformity is creativity’s kryptonite. People stand out from the crowd because they’re different and to be different, you have to be yourself. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Happiness is peace of mind. It’s when you’re content with yourself and who you are. 

Where can we find you on a Friday night?  
Having fun regardless of where I am.

If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
The power of healing, because if I can contribute in any way to help someone, I wouldn’t hesitate one second to do it.

What is the one word you catch yourself saying too often?
“Why” – While some believe that curiosity kills the cat, I believe it’s what makes us better humans. 

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
Everywhere and anywhere. Every place in this world has its own unique charm and people.

What’s the last book you read or movie you saw? 
I recently watched the movie “Everest” and was rather disappointed. The script had no unexpected twist, or uplifting ending; not even a morale to take out. 

What is the one thing you wish you have designed?
I will let you know once I design it.    

Who Are You?

I am… a determined woman
I like… beauty and all its imperfections 
I want... to continue to raise awareness on global issues 
I have... a list of goals to achieve
I wish... chocolate made me lose weight!
I hate... the word “hate”
I fear... losing loved ones
I Google... everything and anything!
I wonder... what my doppelganger is like
I regret... saying no to dessert last night
I love... being surrounded by people I love
I need... to get to my grocery list, asap
If I ruled the world... I wouldn’t have time to be creative!
I dream… in black and white, sometimes.