Meet Naeem Khan, Michelle Obama’s Fashion Designer

UTTAR PRADESH / Mumbai, MAHARASHTRA  / New York, USA :

Designer for power women had his life changed when outgoing First Lady wore his gown for a state dinner in 2009.

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When he was an adolescent growing up in Mumbai, fashion designer Naeem Khan had just one dream.

“When I was 14 years old, I said to my then-girlfriend in India that one day I am going to design for the First Lady of America,” says Khan, who remembers being enchanted by images of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the now defunct Life Magazine.

Almost four decades later, the designer, now 57, has fulfilled his dream many times over. As one of Michelle Obama’s favourite couturiers, he has dressed her for various state dinners, as well as for more casual occasions, such as during a visit to Brazil.

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“[Michelle] likes elegant glamour and loves her arms, so you have to make sure you enhance that.”

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Since he launched his eponymous label in 2003, his uniquely glamorous aesthetic featuring figure-flattering silhouettes and lavish textiles have made him a firm red carpet favourite of some of the world’s most famous women, ranging from celebrities such as singer Beyoncé and actress Penelope Cruz to prominent public figures including Queen Noor of Jordan and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

In Singapore to present his Spring/Summer 2017 collection at Singapore Fashion Week, Khan says without hesitation that the moment Michelle Obama stepped out in his strapless, embroidered gown to host their first State Dinner for India in 2009, he knew his life had changed. He was propelled to global fame in that singular moment.

Khan was hosted at the U.S. Embassy by HE Kirk Wagar during his trip – here are the photos.

Mr Naaem Khan, Ms Crystal Meredith Wagar, HE Kirk W.B. Wagar (U.S.A)
Mr Naaem Khan, Ms Crystal Meredith Wagar, HE Kirk W.B. Wagar (U.S.A)

“I have always believed that if you are true to your dream and consistent in pursuing it, it will happen,” he says.

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He grew up with a lifelong interest in fashion and honed his sartorial instincts by “osmosis”, thanks to his grandfather and father who both designed luxurious textiles and clothing for Indian royal families. At the age of 20, he moved to New York City to do an apprenticeship with legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick of the label Halston where he rubbed shoulders with Halston’s social circle, which included luminaries like the artist Andy Warhol, actress-singer Liza Minnelli and dancer Martha Graham.

His time with his guru Halston – who coincidentally shot to fame when he designed Jackie Kennedy’s pink pillbox hat which she wore to her husband’s presidential inauguration – laid the foundations for his own label.

He says: “My style is to use textures and luxurious fabrics in a form which is classic, yet relevant to the times. It works perfectly for powerful women because the garments send a very strong message – I am powerful, confident and fashionable. Look at me.”

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The business of fashion is of course notoriously challenging, but Khan says he grew his to its current size by sticking to a simple principle. Besides his ready-to-wear business, he also launched Naeem Khan Bridal in 2013, and both lines are sold at over 100 retail outlets around the world.

“I don’t have investors and I’ve grown my business organically by watching the bottom line to make sure we are making money. It is not about having the largest business which is running at a loss,” he says. “Instead, my business philosophy is about having a good life, being profitable and enjoying what I do.”

One of his greatest rewards is having the privilege to develop relationships with movers and shakers of society, like the outgoing First Lady. “She gives full liberty to design for her. We have her form and we’ve create mannequins to drape on so it’s become a simpler process,” he says. “She likes elegant glamour and loves her arms, so you have to make sure you enhance that.”

Certainly, a designer couldn’t ask for a better muse. He adds: “She’s tall and has a great body for clothing so she is the perfect person to design for as she knows how to carry it off.

“She has said to me how much she loves my work. I love that she is so open with her compliments and has such respect for my art, which makes me want to do more for her.”

source: http://www.thepeakmagazine.com.sg / The Peak, SPH Magazines  / Home> Fashion & Watches / by Karen Tee / November 02nd, 2016

A hero of the golden age

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

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NOOR MOHAMMED who passed away in Hyderabad recently belonged to the golden era of Indian football. Those were the days when the Indian teams had a place of their own even at the international level. And when it came to talent, Hyderabad was among the top producers of this precious commodity.

In fact the widespread popularity of football in Hyderabad (the game was introduced here by British armymen) began as early as 1915 when the All India Majeed tournament was revived with great success. Over the next fifteen years the sport flourished in Hyderabad and players such as Riasath, Abdul Majeed Kazimi, Jawad, Qutub Ali, S. M. Hadi, Papaiah, Sharifuddin, Agha Mahmood and Quddus became household names.

The colourful personalities of some players attracted the attention of sports lovers. S. M. Hadi was a genuine sportsman and excelled in cricket, hockey and tennis besides football. He later became the founder secretary of the Hyderabad Football Association. Kazimi who was a teacher by profession was one of the best centre half’s that Hyderabad produced while Qader Khan whose parents hoped that he would become a religious teacher had other ideas and took up football to become a top class goalkeeper by the time he was sixteen. His services were so much in demand that the Nawab of Tadbund had him kept under close watch (sometimes even under physical restrictions) to prevent him from defecting to other teams.

Later the football traditions were continued by other well known players such as S. K. Moinuddin, N. A. Fruvall, S. K. Azizuddin, Shaik Jamal, G. Eeriah, Ghulam Laiq, Noor Mohammed, Anthony Patrick, Yousuf Khan, Susai and Doraiswamy to name a few. Such was their skill and dexterity that players from Hyderabad were in great demand throughout the country and the clubs from Calcutta and Bombay were keen to grab the available talent. The contribution of City College Old Boys Club (CCOB) towards development of Hyderabad football was also considerable and many a great player made his beginning from CCOB.

Fruvall was one of the leading figures in the Hyderabad City Police team first as a player (he was rated to be one of the finest right backs in the country) then as a successful coach helping the police team to win thirteen All India titles including Rovers and Durand. Jamal along with his brother Noor Mohammed and Anthony Patrick were a formidable trio in midfield. Patrick was an outstanding right half and represented India in the Asian Games.

Among the frontliners Moinuddin popularly known as Moin was one of the best forwards seen on the football fields in Hyderabad. His speed and sharpshooting made him one of the most dangerous players in the Police team. He also represented India on numerous occasions including Helsinki Olympics and Manila Asian Games. Another dangerous forward was Doraiswamy, a tall and strong player who often caught rivals napping with a sudden burst of speed.Among defenders none could come up to the standards of Azizuddin a strongly built man with a powerful kick from either foot and a difficult man to get past. Besides leading Hyderabad to National title triumphs in 1956 and 1957, Aziz represented India from 1949 to 1958 and led the National squad in a quadrangular tournament in Dacca in 1955.

S. A. Lateef was one of the notable products of the CCOB Club and he made a name for himself playing in Bombay and for India. Other notable Hyderabad players who represented the country in the Olympics at various stages include S. A. Salaam, Yusuf Khan, Md. Zulfiqar, T. Balaram, Ahmed Husain, S. S. Hakeem, Peter Thangaraj and D. Kannan. These players from Hyderabad played with distinction for their country and were a source of inspiration for those who followed such as S. Kaleemuddin, Habeeb, Akbar, Shabbir Ali, Victor Amalraj, Fareed and others like Naimuddin, Rahamatullah and Samad.

However despite having produced several notable international level players, Hyderabad’s greatest contribution to Indian football was probably S. A. Rahim rated by experts of those days to be as knowledgeable and effective as any European coach. For several years he was the country’s chief coach and it was under his guidance that India chalked up that memorable fourth place at the Melbourne Olympics. Rahim during his travels in Eupore watched the coaches there, picked up points and implemented them after adapting them to Indian players and conditions. He was adept at his job and left a lasting impression on Indian football.

Many of these great players of Hyderabad came from humble backgrounds but had one thing in common – their love for the game and their burning ambition to excel at it. Noor was a typical example. Son of a bangle shop owner, Noor had himself confessed that he was not very good at studies and academic prowess never interested him. Instead he was drawn to several sports at a young age. A frequent visitor to the Victory Playground (which is still a cradle for sport in the city) Noor used to watch volleyball, basketball and football matches with avid interest. The skills that sportsmen posseseed and their display of strength and stamina impressed him and he quickly became drawn to sports particularly football.

Experts never rated Noor as a gifted player but his determination and hard work made him a fine performer. Moreover he never had a very robust physique. Old photographs of Noor Mohammed during his prime show a slim young man of average height with straight jet black hair and a bony face. Not the kind of appearance one would associate with a sports superstar. But then as they say appearances can be deceptive. Noor made up for everything with his uncanny knack of being at the right spot at the right time and a superb football brain.

While his father was busy at the bangle shop, Noor was busy playing football. He gave up studies at an early age much to the disapproval of his elder brother Sheik Jamal who was himself a state player. Later Jamal was to recognise the immense potential that Noor had and encouraged the latter to achieve greater heights.

Noor’s abilities saw him rise rapidly in the sport and he went on to represent the Hyderabad City Police team which was then a formidable outfit. Noor became one of the key players in the side and it went on to many victories in national tournaments including a five-in-a-row triumph in the Rovers Cup in the early fifties.Noor married at an early age and sceptics felt that family responsibilities may affect his game. But Noor was made of sterner stuff. He continued to work on his game and even rose to greater heights as the years passed. Noor represented India in the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 and also the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.

Before the Melbourne Olympics Noor was not too confident of being selected in the team. By then he was 35 years old and the talk prevailing in football circles then was that there should be young blood in the team and players in their twenties should be given preference.

But Noor’s consistent performances could not be ignored and he found himself in the team which went on to record one of the best ever performances by an Indian team in the Olympic Games when it came fourth.

Noor recalled later that the team was determined to put up a better show than the one at Helsinki and its dedication and hard work paid off. Noor’s other accomplishments included playing for the country in three Asian Games including New Delhi, Manila and Tokyo besides playing in the squad on its foreign tours to Phillipines in 1954 and Russia in 1954- 55.

But even great players have to quit the field sooner or later and in Noor’s case it was a little sooner than expected when during a match against Mohammedan Club of Pakistan he was brutally tackled and felled and his leg badly injured. He was never the same player again. Noor said later that the injury virtually crippled him otherwise he may have continued to play for another couple of years.

Noor went on to become a selector for AIFF and then took up coaching children. He always felt that young children held the key to the future development of the sport. The only way to promote football and raise standards was to enthuse the children and inculcate in them a burning desire to excel. If the players did not have hunger for success then they could never improve he always used to say. Perhaps he remembered his young days of watching players and gaining inspiration.

Unfortunately this fine player and gentleman fell on bad days after his playing career was over. Nowadays in the era of multi- millionaire sportsmen it seems grossly unfair that a player who did so much for the country should have to live in the way he did in his last years. But it remains a fact that Noor (as indeed is the fate of many other former sportspersons of this country) was soon in dire straits financially. Noor’s pride and principles prevented him from asking for favours from the establishment and there was none to fight his case.

After retiring from the police service, he spent his days in a small house in a nondescript lane in Osmanpura. Not many even knew that he was a double Olympian and that his feats had helped to maintain national pride and prestige on football fields throughout the world.

To make things worse he developed tuberculosis but despite his frail health he always made it a point to be present at the Lal Bahadur stadium in Hyderabad whenever a major tournament was in progress there. Always a simple and modest man Noor was always happy to have visitors especially from the media at his house for then his favourite topic football could be discussed.

But a couple of months ago, it was clear that his fragile health was deteriorating. When the end came a pall of gloom descended on football circles in Hyderabad. Condolence messages flowed in from far and near. A host of football luminaries including officials, coaches, players of the past and present all attended the funeral to bid goodbye to this great player and fine gentleman.

Another famous name in Hyderabad football – Yousuf Khan – ex Olympian and Arjuna awardee, made a relevant observation in his tribute when he said that Noor was an inspiration for him (Yousuf) and generations of players who followed.

“Noor’s tactical brilliance, flawless technique and steely determination were an inspiration to all of us. We learnt a lot from watching him,” said Yousuf Khan who is himself unfortunately not in sound health.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sport / Online Edition / by Abhijit Sen Gupta, Hyderabad / Saturday – June 17th, 2000

Nazeer Ahamed Mohamed Zackiriah

BRUNEI DARUSLALAM  :

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Brunei :

Mr. Nazeer Zackiriah, Permanent Resident of the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, is an Indian-origin entrepreneur who has strengthened the links between India, Brunei and the Indian community of Brunei.

He has actively supported Government of India initiatives and events and has ensured meaningful interactions with local and Indian entrepreneurs for visiting Indian delegations.

He has heightened respect for the Indian community in Brunei by his active charitable endeavours, both in his individual capacity and as President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce of Brunei.

By virtue of the recognition that he has obtained from His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei for these charitable and community-building efforts, he has been instrumental in raising the prestige and profile of the Indian community in Brunei.

Mr. Nazeer Ahamed has achieved notable success in the textile retail sector in Brunei.

From humble beginnings, through hard work and acumen, he has built up the largest chain of textile stores of Brunei which is now providing significant employment and promoting trade.

He has contributed towards strengthening the link between the Indian community and Bruneians by organizing the active participation of the Indian community in Bruneian national events like the National Day of Brunei and the Birthday Celebrations of His Majesty the Sultan.

source: http://www.pbdindia.gov.in / Pravasi Bharatiya Divas / Home> Profile of Awardees / 07-09 January 2017, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

A hero who comes to the rescue of the dead

KERALA / UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) :

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Until December 2016, UAE-based businessman has helped transport 3,886 bodies to 38 countries

Heroes are often made out to be those who save lives, but here is one who comes to the rescue of the dead and their families. Ashraf Thamarassery, a UAE-based businessman, is credited with helping the final journey of the dead to their home countries.

The 41-year-old, a native of Kerala, was in Bengaluru to participate in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an event which saw him being conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Award in the past.

“It was 2002 when I saw the struggle of a family I knew when the father passed away,” he said, recalling how his tryst with the dead began. As he learnt of the money involved in transporting bodies to their home countries, the lengthy procedures, and the large amount of paperwork, he decided to dedicate a significant amount of his time to helping those in similar situations.

Until December 2016, Mr. Ashraf is said to have helped transport 3,886 bodies to 38 countries. Transportation to India is one of the most expensive, he said. This is because Indian airlines charge per kilogram of weight of the body, which often ends up becoming a huge financial burden on the grieving families.

“What if it is a poor worker here? Their families will have to contact around 16 departments and pay hefty airline charge,” he said, advocating for government intervention on this.

Though often perceived as morbid, his family is completely in support of what he is doing, Mr. Ashraf said, making it clear that he will continue to remain a call away for those who want his help at one of the most difficult times of their lives.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by K. C. Deepika / Bengaluru – January 09th, 2017

Awarding PIOs in recognition of their services

BRUNEI / LIBYA  / SAUDI ARABIA  :

President Pranab Mukherjee honours Dr. Antonio Costa, Portugal Prime Minister, who received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, as Suriname Vice-President Michael Ashwin Adhin and Union Minister V.K. Singh look on, in Bengaluru on Monday. | Photo Credit: G R N SOMASHEKAR;G R N SOMASHEKAR -
President Pranab Mukherjee honours Dr. Antonio Costa, Portugal Prime Minister, who received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, as Suriname Vice-President Michael Ashwin Adhin and Union Minister V.K. Singh look on, in Bengaluru on Monday. | Photo Credit: G R N SOMASHEKAR;G R N SOMASHEKAR –

Winners of Pravasi Samman Awards include Portugal Prime Minister Dr. Antonio Costa

Her son was three years old when she realised that there was no school she could send him to. British and American schools were too expensive and she didn’t want to send him to a local school.

That prompted Zeenat Jafri to start the second Indian school in Saudi ArabiaInternational Indian School — in 1982 with her husband. She was among the 30 people feted for her achievement on Monday during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, when the Pravasi Samman Awards were given away by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The 64-year-old MBA graduate from Bhopal, who was given the award for her contribution to the field of education, said she started the school from her house, gradually scaling it up   to now educate 12,000 people.

Another person of Indian origin who was recognised with the award was Ariful Islam, coordinator and nodal point in the Embassy of India in Libya.

The electrical engineer relocated from India to Libya in 1980 following a pact between the two nations. He has seen his adopted country go through the worst of times, but continues to live there alone, though his family has moved back to Aligarh. “I have spent half my life there. We have successfully rescued many Indians,” he said.

The rescuer

The most recent episode he was involved was in the rescue of three abducted Indians from the IS in a dramatic operation in 2016 from the deep Libyan deserts.

Among the organisations that were awarded were the Singapore Indian Association in the category of community service.

The event saw double the number of awardees as it was being held after an interval of two years.

Among the other prominent winners of the award were Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Luis Santos da Costa, Labour Member of the European Parliament representing the West Midlands Neena Gill, British politician Priti Patel and Mauritius Minister of Finance and Economic Development Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.

Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the United States Department of State, who was also among the 30 awardees, said persons of Indian origin, who were building bridges and connecting in an “increasingly divided world,” retained strong ties with India, she said.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National / by K.C. Deepika / Bengaluru – January 10th, 2017

Ariful Islam

Aligarh, UTTAR PRADESH / Benghazi, LIBYA :

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Libya :

Mr. Ariful Islam resides in Benghazi, the second largest city of Libya.

Mr. Islam has been providing selfless service to Indians in Libya and has been instrumental in building trust between the Libyans and Indians.

Mr. Islam helped during the evacuation of Indian nationals from Libya during the civil unrest in 2011 and was amongst the last to leave from Libya.

His assistance in extricating Indian nationals from the eastern region was invaluable and was appreciated and recognized by Indian as well as the Libyan authorities.

He facilitated repatriating 287 Indian citizens from Benghazi by ship to Malta in August 2014.

He again helped the Mission in December 2014 January and February 2015 to evacuate subsequent batches of Indian nurses from Benghazi and arranged for their safe passage till Labrak airport, about 250 km from Benghazi, while the security situation was very fragile.

Although, he does not have active business now due to the civil war like situation and continuous fighting in Benghazi, he returned to Libya to assist in the evacuation of our nationals and to attend to other consular matters of our citizens and to follow up with the local authorities.

source: http://www.pbdindia.gov.in / Pravasi Bharatiya Divas / Home> Profile of Awardees / 07-09 January 2017, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

School for expats in Saudi Arabia wins Muslim woman top award

Bhopal, MADHYA PRADESH / SAUDI ARABIA :

Zeenat Mussarat Jafri with her sons at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru on Monday
Zeenat Mussarat Jafri with her sons at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru on Monday

Bengaluru :

“A Muslim from Saudi Arabia being recognized and awarded by the BJP government. This is India.” This is how Syed Mohsin rejoiced when his mother was conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman  017 in Bengaluru on Monday.

Zeenat Mussarat Jafri, 65, was given the award by President Pranab Mukherjee for providing quality education to children of Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia. She started the first Indian school in Riyadh in 1982. “My mother is also the first woman of Indian origin from Saudi Arabia to get the Pravasi Samman,” Mohsin’s elder brother Syed Mudassir told TOI.

A native of Lucknow and a former teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Zeenat went to Saudi Arabia in 1979 with her husband Musarrat Jafri, a former DRDO scientist who later joined the Saudi government as a chemical expert.

Zeenat said: “I was moved by the plight of Indians living in Riyadh. Most of them had left their children behind in India because of a lack of educational opportunities. We wanted to do something and that’s when we met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when she visited Riyadh in 1982. We requested her to speak to Saudi authorities and get permission to start a school for Indian children. We got the green signal.”

Zeenat established the International Indian School in Riyadh from the family’s savings. From the first batch of 20 students in 1982, the school now has 12,000 students and is affiliated to CBSE. “I get angry when people pull their children out of schools. I want them to complete graduation,” said Zeenat, who is running the school for the past four decades.

But what’s more Indian about Zeenat and her husband Jafri is that they haven’t given up their Indian citizenship.Since Saudi Arabia does not allow for dual citizenship, they have accepted permanent resident status. “I am an Indian and I will always be an Indian,” she said.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Bangalore News / by Rakesh Prakash / TNN / January 10th, 2017

Ayazuddin Patel only artist from Karnataka to participate in international art camp in Europe

KARNATAKA :

Lalit Kala Akademi Awardee Mohammad Ayazuddin Patel will be participating in the 5 th International Cultural-Artistic event from July 8. | Photo Credit: ARUN KULKARNI
Lalit Kala Akademi Awardee Mohammad Ayazuddin Patel will be participating in the 5 th International Cultural-Artistic event from July 8. | Photo Credit: ARUN KULKARNI

National Lalit Kala Akademi Awardee and noted artist Mohammed Ayazuddin Patel will be participating in the 5th International Cultural-Artistic Event, a fortnight exhibition of painting and workshop-cum-art camp in Greece-Kosova-Balkan in Europe from July 8.

Mr. Patel is the only artist from Karnataka to attend the event which attracted 30 artists across the world. The event, which is jointly organised by Municipality of Suva-Reka and Department of Culture, Kosovo and Greece, provides a common platform for artists to exhibit their talent and get international exposure.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Patel said that five of his digital art works were submitted online for the selection to the event. The 46-year-old artist has bagged 20 prestigious awards including 55 th National Lalit Kala Akademi Award, National Award for Photography and National Award for Digital Painting recognised by the Ministry of Culture.

Mr. Patel has also participated in international group exhibition in six countries and displayed his digital art works painting and photography during exhibitions at 34 different places and organised 20 solo exhibitions across the country.

Mr. Patel is known for digital painting and mixed media and his works adorn several walls in important State buildings.

As per the event schedule, the selected artists would be visiting famous museums, art galleries, historical monuments and old places in nine European cities including Istanbul in Turkey, Thessaloniki in Greece, Suva Reka in Kosovo, Budva in Montenegro, Mostar in Bosnia, Sarajevo in Herzegovina, Dubrovnik in southern Croatia, Tirana in Albania, Ohrid in Macedonia and Kavala in Greece during the 15 days camp.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by  Correspondent / Kalaburagi – June 27th, 2017