Living & Working in Dubai * Hayet Zerelli


7 Moksi Women answering my 7 questions : how they are Living and Working in Dubai. 

I was so happy all these 7 women wanted to participate - even more when I could work with the lovely Rebecca Rees - who photographed all their outdoor portrait photo's. We only had 1 day (a crazy busy day!) to make it all happen, since everyone has a busy schedule. So in one day we drove around Dubai in the heat and visited them all.

People have a certain image in their heads when thinking of Dubai. Instantly only thinking of the luxurious side of living - which is here too. But there are more people simply living their normal everyday lives - being a mother, being a creative or running their business. They mix this all together - most of them doing so while creating their home away from home. To me, that's what makes them great & inspiring Moksi Women.


This week, meet jewellery designer Hayet Zerelli.

Hayet is one of these people who - by simply meeting her - will make you feel good. Her soft spoken voice and truly kind personality made me come back to wherever she was selling, for a chat or a purchase. After living in Tunisia and England, Hayet is living in Dubai for the last twenty years. With her knowledge of being a creative entrepreneur in the ever changing market scenes, Hayet is a well known name at the artisans markets in Dubai. 

Her collection is very recognizable - especially her use of Chain links and the Hand of Fatima. This symbol (also known as Hand of Miriam or Hamsa) is well used in Middle Eastern, North-African and Jewish jewellery - it's believed to protect the wearer against evil. By combining culture and modern day styles, her collection is timeless and is worn world wide by a variety of women in different cultures.

I like Hayet very much and always went to the market where she was selling - for a chat or a purchase. I'm a fan of her beaded bracelets in various colours, with a small silver Fatima hand attached to them. At our wedding party, I gifted one to all the women attending. Hayet truly surprised me, by agreeing to custom design and hand make all the foot bracelets for me and the 7 bridesmaids (we were barefoot in the desert, but that's another story).

If you are on the lookout for classic hand crafted jewellery from Dubai, visit Hayet online [details below]. 

Thanks Hayet and I will see you again when I'm visiting Dubai! 

** What inspired you to start your business / work in this branch?

I've always been creative - in my twenties I studied art. Jewellery making and designing each item started first as a fun hobby in my thirties, which then developed into a business. It began slowly - thanks to my friends, who started placing orders of necklaces, which I was first making for myself. 


** In your work, what is your favourite creation you have made so far?

I make what I like to wear myself, so I love all my designs. I keep one item for myself from nearly all my creations - you can imagine how many necklaces I own by now.


** Working in Dubai, how would you describe it to anyone not living here?

It's not an easy process as there is not much support for artisans to start up their businesses and this can be costly. When I started my business nine years ago, I was lucky to have found the Arte market. It's the artisan market of the Emirates, where everything is locally handmade. Later a friend of mine - who was the managing director of Objects & Elements - offered me the opportunity to operate under her umbrella and have my jewellery in a showroom inside her gallery. But the Arte market is where you can find me. It's every second and fourth Friday of every month at the Times Square centre and every third Friday at the Mercato Mall.


** Which side of running your own business / working in this branch excites you the most?

I love to create, so I would say designing and making my jewellery. But I also like shopping for the beads and the special parts I use in my designs. When I travel abroad, I can be ahead of the jewellery makers here in Dubai and that makes my jewellery stand out in the crowd. 


** As a working mother, how do you keep a good balance between work and your life at home?

It can be quite challenging at times with 4 kids, but thanks to my husband and my older daughters (who are a great support and help out often) I manage to juggle my work and being there as a mom. This way I can even fit a few buying trips in my schedule.


** Do you have any tips for other women who want to start their own business or work here in Dubai?

Don't be put off by the cost of setting up your own business and in the beginning start small. Being your own boss is the best thing that can happen to a woman or a mother, as you are in control of your working hours.


** And last, what is the best part of living in Dubai?

We have been in Dubai for 20 years now and we started our family here. There is so much diversity of races and cultures and living in Dubai is a great opportunity for our children - to be raised in such a melting pot - that's what we love about living here.

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*Photo Hayet by: Rebecca Rees for Moksi Collective

*Join Hayet on Instagram: @hayetzerelli or visit her on Facebook: hayet.jewellery

*For international orders or questions: