Style File: Kuwait's Sheikha Lulu brings Arab art to the world

The entrepreneurial Kuwaiti who created a consultancy to promote regional art in the West, as well as western art in the Middle East, talks to M about her personal style essentials.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai - January 6, 2011.

M, STYLE FILE: Sheikha Lulu Al-Sabah (cq-al), 32, poses for her portrait and shows 'M' some of her favorite things at the Shangri-La hotel in Dubai on Thursday, January 6, 2011. Amy Leang/The National
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Three years ago Sheikha Lulu M Al-Sabah was busy organising Phillips de Pury & Company's first art auction in Dubai. At 29 she was the company's first director for the Middle East and had already spent two years as a consultant for Christie's.

Then the global financial crisis hit and, as she puts it, "Dubai had to be put on hold".

It was frustrating. It was disappointing. And for Sheikha Lulu it was a defining moment. She didn't want to have to put anything on hold. A woman of formidable intellect and culture - she studied in Boston and Paris before obtaining an MA from Birbeck College, University of London - she decided it was time to take control.

Partnered by her friend and one-time colleague Lydia Limerick (then the head of Christie's Middle East), Sheikha Lulu founded the art consultancy JAMM with the primary aim of promoting Arab and Iranian artists in the West and western artists in the East.

JAMM will hold its second auction of contemporary art in Sheikha Lulu's home country of Kuwait on Wednesday, and she hopes to build on the success of last year's auction that realised close to Dh1.8 million. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the artworks, which will be put on display at The Avenues mall in Kuwait on Tuesday, will go to the Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospital.

Sheikha Lulu was in Dubai in January to acquire works for the sale and spoke to Laura Collins about her passions and her favourite things.


My husband, Ahmad, gave me these pearl and diamond earrings two years ago on the birth of our daughter, Amaya. They're beautiful of course but I love them more because they remind me of that happy time.


I studied history and love biographies. I'm reading this at the moment, though I tend to focus on strong women: Hollywood bad girls like Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor or figures like Catherine de Medici or Catherine the Great.


Another gift from my husband. He bought it three years ago, the year we married. It's by a Lebanese designer, Nadine Kanso, and always draws compliments.


This is from an artisan shop in Beirut. I love the calligraphy detail, so rooted in the region. It's not the most practical bag but, for a night out, it takes the essentials: cash, keys and phone.


I love my career but I'm a mother first and foremost - family's at the centre of everything. JAMM is named after my business partner Lydia's sons, Jack and Matt, and my daughter, Amaya. So I guess my next child's name has to start with "M" to make it fit.


My style is classic with a twist and bold, jewel colours. I wear a lot of Phillip Lim, Vanessa Bruno and Oscar de la Renta, but I don't really enjoy the act of shopping. I got this Halston dress on, which I use a lot.


A lot of Arab families went to London during the summer but we always went to Paris. My favourite memory of those days is the fun fair in the Tuileries Garden. The Helter Skelter was my guilty pleasure - speeding down on trash bags. I loved it long after I was too old for it.


My mother's perfume is Shalimar. It's a scent I totally identify with her and I wanted that sort of signature scent for myself. I didn't stray too far, it's still by Guerlain. I've worn Samsara since I was 17.


There are so many places in the world I want to see - South America, Bali, Thailand, Antarctica. But when it comes to magical places it's got to be Venice. I've been three times and each time it takes my breath away.


MY MUSIC IS... Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones. I'm stuck in the Sixties.

MY LIFE MOTTO IS... Be true to yourself. It sounds so simple but it isn't easy. It's so tempting to follow the herd, to succumb to the allure of conformity and not even know you're doing it.

IN MY FRIDGE IS... always milk. I'm a real Arab and am constantly drinking tea with milk and honey.

MY INSPIRATIONS ARE... creativity in others, and art of course. Art can hold up a mirror to the world we live in. It can make political, cultural and social statements where sometimes words can't, and it can lift the spirit.