Inside Naoufer Ramoul’s Jumeirah Lake Towers apartment



Long before TV presenter Naoufer Ramoul had an apartment to decorate, she had chosen an interior designer. Ramoul, who is the presenter of the weekly political debate show ­Qabil li Niqash, had come across Harf Noon Design Studio on Instagram, and immediately got in touch with the company's founder, Nisrine El Lababidi.

“Naoufer messaged me and said: ‘Nisrine, I don’t own a house at the moment, but when I do, I want you to decorate it,’” El Lababidi recalls.

Months later, Ramoul started looking at apartments to buy and took El Lababidi along to some of the viewings. They eventually found the ideal space – a two-bedroom apartment on the 42nd floor of a building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai. The apartment’s previous owners had already upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms, so El Lababidi set to work on the rest of the rooms. She wanted to create a calm, relaxed space that was the direct antithesis of Ramoul’s previous apartment.

“Naoufer had been living in a three-bedroom apartment in JLT, but it was too big and didn’t have a great vibe. What she had in her previous apartment was a lot of red and black and other very harsh colours, so I knew I wanted to tone it down.”

El Lababidi settled on a muted palette of blues, greens and pastels, interspersed with pops of terracotta. She took her cues from the apartment’s expansive views, which included JLT’s man-made lake and the greens of the Emirates Golf Club. “I wanted to bring those elements in, to help create a sense of serenity.”

Ramoul’s new home represented a clean slate, so she decided to get rid of all her existing furniture and start from scratch. “She only took her clothes and shoes,” El Lababidi notes. “She had an extra room and she decided to turn it into a wardrobe. She said: ‘I have a lot of shoes and clothes, and I want them all in one room.’ That was a requirement from the beginning.”

Beyond that, Ramoul was happy to leave her chosen designer to do her thing. “She gave me her keys,” says El Lababidi. “She had a very important business trip to the US while Trump was being elected. So for two weeks, the apartment was mine. I had shown her a few mood boards before she left, and we had agreed on the basic style and colours. I knew that she loved horses and I had also shown her a picture of an Egg chair, which she liked. She doesn’t have children, so I knew we could include any kind of accessories we wanted.”

Because the space isn’t huge, El ­Lababidi placed an L-shaped sofa, from Indigo Living, in the living room, and paired it with an Egg chair in a jaunty shade of blue. Naturally, Ramoul is a huge TV fan, so the space is anchored by an enormous 72-inch screen. A glass coffee table from MQ Furniture also contributes to a sense of spaciousness, while two grey linen stools from The One add an element of flexibility to the design, and can be moved around at will. As a finishing touch, El Lababidi introduced tasteful metallic accents into the space, including a golden, three-dimensional chandelier from 2XL and a piece of abstract metal artwork from Al Huzaifa, which hangs over the sofa.

El Lababidi visited numerous homeware stores to source exactly the right pieces. There are Pottery Barn side tables, Ikea lighting and wardrobes, accessories from Blanc D’Ivoire, The One and Zara Home, bedside tables from Marina Home and rugs from the Carpet Centre.

“I think I got something from every single shop in Dubai,” she jokes. “But everything was within the budget. Naoufer didn’t want to overspend, because she had just bought a whole apartment.”

When pushed to pick a part of the design that works particularly well, El Lababidi points to the apartment’s entrance area, where an oversized painting of a white horse hangs over a slim, custom-­made console from Luz de Luna. Together, they set the tone for the rest of the space, and given Ramoul’s love of horses, introduce a personal touch from the outset.

An oversized painting of a horse also hangs over the bed in Ramoul’s room, and its gentle colour palette informed the design of the rest of the room. Walls are painted in a soothing shade of grey, while the bed – a sumptuous affair with a padded headboard – and studded leather side tables are also in grey. An orange-hued throw from The One has been slung over the end of the bed to introduce a warm pop of colour.

As per Ramoul’s initial request, an entire bedroom has been transformed into her own personal dressing room. Ikea wardrobes line the walls and are brimming with clothes, shoes and handbags. In the centre of the room, two sets of Ikea drawers were placed back-to-back to form an island, and then topped with a custom-made glass top. A nook in the back of the room was converted into a mini work area, with a small desk, and El Lababidi even managed to squeeze in a sofa bed for when Ramoul has guests staying over. Decorative features were kept simple and include Ikea’s popular Maskros pendant lamp, white orchids and perfume bottles sitting on a mirrored tray.

For El Lababidi, getting to know her clients, and understanding their likes, dislikes and lifestyles, is key to her job, and she and Ramoul have become close friends since working together.

“The most important part of my job is listening to the client and understanding what they really want,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like I’m a psychologist – particularly when it comes to couples. I’ve worked with some couples and genuinely feel like their life, as a couple, has been enhanced after the space they share has been fixed. It’s the little things – the energy in a space or a lack of light. There are things that make you stop wanting to spend time in your own home.”

That’s not so in Ramoul’s apartment, El Lababidi says. “There’s a lot of light in the apartment and a good flow of energy – we put in mirrors to reflect light into the darker areas. It feels like there is good energy in the space. And it’s not about spending a lot; it’s about being tasteful and picking the right elements and getting the size of your furniture right.”

Ramoul, who shares her new apartment with her cat, Radisson – so named so because she rescued it on the streets near the Radisson hotel – could not be happier with her new home.

“When I first met Nisrine, I told her I wanted an elegant, comfortable, warm interior,” she says. “From there on, the journey has been full of excitement and joy. Nisrine kept a simple classy touch, and translated my life and style into my dream home.

“Going back to my apartment is like being in love. I’m excited to use my new bed; happy to sit on my pristine new sofa. And even though the project ended four months ago, I’m still living my honeymoon. I want to cherish my beautiful nest every night.”

sdenman@thenational.ae

SPECS

Engine: 6-cylinder 3-litre, with petrol and diesel variants
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 286hp (petrol), 249hp (diesel)
Torque: 450Nm (petrol), 550Nm (diesel)
Price: Starting at $69,800
On sale: Now

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.

If you go

The flights 

Emirates flies from Dubai to Funchal via Lisbon, with a connecting flight with Air Portugal. Economy class returns cost from Dh3,845 return including taxes.

The trip

The WalkMe app can be downloaded from the usual sources. If you don’t fancy doing the trip yourself, then Explore  offers an eight-day levada trails tour from Dh3,050, not including flights.

The hotel

There isn’t another hotel anywhere in Madeira that matches the history and luxury of the Belmond Reid's Palace in Funchal. Doubles from Dh1,400 per night including taxes.

 

 

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

The specs: 2018 Renault Megane

Price, base / as tested Dh52,900 / Dh59,200

Engine 1.6L in-line four-cylinder

Transmission Continuously variable transmission

Power 115hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque 156Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 6.6L / 100km

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The Intruder

Director: Deon Taylor

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good

One star

What is the definition of an SME?

SMEs in the UAE are defined by the number of employees, annual turnover and sector. For example, a “small company” in the services industry has six to 50 employees with a turnover of more than Dh2 million up to Dh20m, while in the manufacturing industry the requirements are 10 to 100 employees with a turnover of more than Dh3m up to Dh50m, according to Dubai SME, an agency of the Department of Economic Development.

A “medium-sized company” can either have staff of 51 to 200 employees or 101 to 250 employees, and a turnover less than or equal to Dh200m or Dh250m, again depending on whether the business is in the trading, manufacturing or services sectors. 

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6

Power: 540hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 600Nm at 2,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed auto

Kerb weight: 1580kg

Price: From Dh750k

On sale: via special order

Tips to avoid getting scammed

1) Beware of cheques presented late on Thursday

2) Visit an RTA centre to change registration only after receiving payment

3) Be aware of people asking to test drive the car alone

4) Try not to close the sale at night

5) Don't be rushed into a sale 

6) Call 901 if you see any suspicious behaviour

Opening Rugby Championship fixtures:Games can be watched on OSN Sports
Saturday: Australia v New Zealand, Sydney, 1pm (UAE)
Sunday: South Africa v Argentina, Port Elizabeth, 11pm (UAE)

BlacKkKlansman

Director: Spike Lee

Starring: John David Washington; Adam Driver 

Five stars

GOLF’S RAHMBO

- 5 wins in 22 months as pro
- Three wins in past 10 starts
- 45 pro starts worldwide: 5 wins, 17 top 5s
- Ranked 551th in world on debut, now No 4 (was No 2 earlier this year)
- 5th player in last 30 years to win 3 European Tour and 2 PGA Tour titles before age 24 (Woods, Garcia, McIlroy, Spieth)

In the Land of Saints and Sinners

Director: Robert Lorenz

Starring: Liam Neeson, Kerry Condon, Jack Gleeson, Ciaran Hinds

Rating: 2/5

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work

Afghanistan Premier League - at a glance

Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Fixtures:

Tue, Oct 16, 8pm: Kandahar Knights v Kabul Zwanan; Wed, Oct 17, 4pm: Balkh Legends v Nangarhar Leopards; 8pm: Kandahar Knights v Paktia Panthers; Thu, Oct 18, 4pm: Balkh Legends v Kandahar Knights; 8pm: Kabul Zwanan v Paktia Panthers; Fri, Oct 19, 8pm: First semi-final; Sat, Oct 20, 8pm: Second semi-final; Sun, Oct 21, 8pm: final

Table:

1. Balkh Legends 6 5 1 10

2. Paktia Panthers 6 4 2 8

3. Kabul Zwanan 6 3 3 6

4. Nagarhar Leopards 7 2 5 4

5. Kandahar Knights 5 1 4 2

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat


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