'About Face': Huda Kattan talks living in 'progressive' Dubai in Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's new Quibi show
The beauty mogul also revealed her struggles in setting up her business as a woman
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s new beauty show, About Face, has landed on Quibi, and the second episode features the model flying to Dubai to interview beauty mogul Huda Kattan, who lives and runs her business in the emirate.
“I am here in Dubai and I am really excited, because I am going to be meeting up with a friend of mine, Huda Kattan,” Huntington-Whiteley says as an introduction to Kattan on the show.
“Huda is arguably one of the most famous and iconic YouTube make-up artists in the world … I am going to hear all about what it takes to run a $1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) beauty brand from the Middle East.”
Running Huda Beauty from the UAE
Kattan is the Iraqi-American make-up artist and entrepreneur behind cosmetics giant Huda Beauty. She has lived in Dubai for 12 years.
At the beginning of the six-minute episode, Huntington-Whiteley is seen walking into the Five Palm Jumeirah Hotel, where she meets Kattan.
“I am so happy to be here!” the model exclaims as she greets Kattan, then she describes Dubai as: “This is heaven.”
“What is it like to run this billion-dollar beauty business in the Middle East?” she asks the entrepreneur, whose business began on Instagram.
We’re lucky because we’re in Dubai and Dubai is super progressive ... and they love beauty here, so that is great
“We are lucky because we are in Dubai, and Dubai is super progressive, especially compared to other parts of the Middle East. And they love beauty here, [so] that is great,” Kattan says.
“But it is challenging as a woman. When we first started, people treated me, constantly, like it was a hobby, objectifying [me], not making [me] feel like [I'am] capable of it, that was a hard thing, to be honest,” she says. “They would constantly make eye contact with my husband [and ask], ‘How do we do this?’ and my husband would be like, ‘Ask the big boss’.”
Kattan has been married to Christopher Goncalo since 2008; the couple met at high school. They have a daughter, Nour, 9.
Huntington-Whiteley asks Kattan about where she works in Dubai, and she describes “a big, tall, black building”, saying it’s “crazy because I always looked at New York City as, you know, the goal, and we have a building that looks like it is out of New York".
The Huda Beauty headquarters is located in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Huda Kattan on feeling like an 'outsider' as a child
Kattan moved to the UAE from Nashville, Tennessee.
I just looked very different from everyone I was at school with. Being Middle Eastern and being also a westerner, I always felt like an outsider
“I just looked very different from everyone I was at school with. People would find reasons to say, ‘You are super weird’ or just be really mean. Being Middle Eastern and also a westerner, I always felt like an outsider ... at the time, I wanted to be appreciated by everyone else,” Kattan says.
She later says that perspective is key, and any issues she had “stemmed from my childhood, of never feeling good enough, never feeling accepted".
“Now I have a lot of love for myself, I’m not going to stress [about] how people feel,” says Kattan.
The episode is peppered with footage of Dubai, from Palm Jumeirah to Downtown, the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina.
During the show, Kattan reflects on her sister, Alya Kattan, as being her early make-up inspiration; her humble origins as a make-up artist who could not find paid work; the “scrappy” beginnings of Huda Beauty; her loyal following of more than 40 million on Instagram and the “game changing” 60-second tutorials that made her a name on the platform.
The show also features issues of Cosmopolitan Middle East and Vogue Arabia with Kattan on the cover.
Towards the end of the conversation, the pair are joined by Huda’s younger sister, Mona Kattan, with whom she runs Huda Beauty. Huntington-Whiteley describes Mona as Huda’s “driving force, to see her own potential [and] talent”.
How to watch 'About Face' on Quibi
To watch the episode, download the Quibi app. You have to sign up for a subscription, which costs Dh29.99 per month – on international app stores it costs $4.99. The series can be watched on phones or tablets.
In the six-part series, Huntington-Whiteley will also be joined by Kylie Jenner, Glossier chief executive Emily Weiss, South Korean beauty influencer Park Hye-min – known as Pony – celebrity make-up artist Sir John and Jen Atkin, hairstylist to the stars and founder of Ouai hair products. All episodes are available to stream now.
Quibi is an American short-form streaming platform, which launched in April this year. All of the shows on the mobile-first platform are less than 10 minutes for an episode. Quibi is also home to content by Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba, Joe Jonas, Reese Witherspoon and Kevin Hart.
Watch Huda Kattan talking about growing up in the US in an Iraqi immigrant family:
Updated: August 17, 2020 05:27 PM