An Emirati interior designer has been quietly leaving her mark on international hotel brands in the UAE and airport lounges across the world.
Amani Al Lauz is passionate about her day-to-day work at Emirates and excited about her latest project – the refurbished Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah.
Designing the decor of a luxury hotel is no mean feat. And the secret to Amani’s success in the field is sound knowledge and years of experience, she says.
“I’ve been with Emirates for almost 15 years. It depends on how many projects you handle – the more you are on site, the more experience you get,” says Al Lauz, who was promoted to vice president, facilities (interior design & maintenance) a year ago.
The Dubai-based designer says it all started in school.
“I loved art while I was growing up,” Al Lauz explains. “After school, I graduated from UAE University in Al Ain and then I got a diploma in interior decoration from Chelsea in London.”
While art inspired her in life, it was Fujairah’s mountains and beaches that inspired her work, which was part of the Dh25 million refurbishment of 105 rooms at Le Méridien Al Aqah resort – about a 90-minute drive from Dubai airport.
Al Lauz says the undulating Hajjar mountains and the waves of the Indian Ocean are all reflected in the carpet design, the art on the walls and even the upholstery.
“For me, the colours of Fujairah are the grey and green of the mountains and the blue of the sea,” she explains. “The carpet is the main feature of the room that catches your eye the moment you enter.”
Patrick Antaki, the general manager of the resort, says: “Amani added modern, Arab and local touches to the rooms. The beauty of having an Emirati designer is that she has made the room comfortable for both Emirati guests and foreign guests.” The renovation was completed in early December.
Al Lauz also played a role in the interior design of the towering J W Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, owned by the Emirates Group, that opened last year on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. She describes it as a real challenge because it was “a massive project”.
“Actually I’m very proud that Emirates developed and executed this project with a small team.”
Probably more so, because Al Lauz personally looks after quality management.
“It’s very important for us, because when we design something, we review the materials to ensure their quality and if it’s easy to maintain in the long run,” she says.
Despite being vice president, Al Lauz strongly believes in an all- inclusive approach while working – whether it is the general manager of the hotel or the housekeeping staff.
“At Le Méridien Al Aqah itself, I shared my ideas with the housekeeping because they already know the functioning and the problems they face. It’s all about looking at the bigger picture – that’s the secret of success in the long run,” she says.
Surprisingly, working on a limited budget excites Al Lauz. ”Oh, I love that part. You need to look at your budget without compromising quality. It’s a challenge I like most.”
Al Lauz’s daily work involves looking after the design and maintenance of Emirates’ offices and airport lounges across the world, and says she owes her success to her boss, Ali Mubarak Al Soori, the executive vice president, chairman’s office – facilities/projects management.
Some of the Emirates airport lounges she has designed are in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai, Gatwick and Heathrow in London, and a recently refurbished lounge in Milan.
“The one in Rome is opening in February,” says Al Lauz.
But the Emirates headquarters in Dubai, which opened in 2008, will always remain her favourite project.
“It was huge – in size and responsibility. I was managing materials, contractors and keeping in mind many different users. I also dealt with police and the customs – we have a mini arrival and departure area downstairs – and I have lovely memories from then.”
Al Lauz feels reaching high-level posts is no longer a challenge for women in the UAE because it is all about the knowledge you have in your field.
“You need to have knowledge to get anywhere. Now I see more women in different fields. Maybe in 10 years, more women pilots will be flying us,” she says with a smile.