Pakistani Showbiz

Raising fever pitch

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Dhoom Events CEO Rahat Mansoor tells Umer Nangiana of her yearlong endeavour to get top designers, celebrities to converge in Doha for the glittering Pakistan Fashion Week

The bigger the event, the better she cuts it. Equipped with quintessential managerial skills, aesthetic sense, avid observation and, above all, a splendid taste for what constitutes beauty, this woman is a real show maker.

Awarded official recognition for being one of the best event organisers in town, she actively remains at the forefront of all community development and women empowerment activities. She is the founder of first ever women’s association for her Pakistani community and an active promoter of women entrepreneurship.

Meet Rahat Mansoor, the Chief Executive Officer of Dhoom Events, the brand name associated with many mega events in Doha over the last seven years.

From fashion to music shows and community celebrations to charity programmes, Rahat has always brought something new and different to Doha. True to form, later this month, Rahat is throwing open the doors to Pakistan Fashion Week, a three-day fashion extravaganza that promises to feature big names of Pakistan’s fashion industry and showbiz.

In a tête-à-tête with Community, Rahat spoke about her upcoming fashion week project, inspirations in life and her journey as a successful event manager. From her demeanour you can detect a sense of urgency. In her own words; a “hyper-active” state of earnestness.

And that is what makes you a successful event manager, she says, by way of advice to women looking for motivation.

“You need to be well-organised, possess good marketing skills, ability to meet deadlines and have a co-operative husband,” she laughs, pointing towards her life partner sitting across her.

Rahat is a multi-tasker, who takes care of her children and family while not taking her eyes off her business. And she is not willing to give up on her passion for music and showbiz amid all this busyness.

Rahat says her husband has been a huge support in chasing her ambition. “Believe me, there is also a man behind every woman’s success — and not just the other way around. Without his support, perhaps, I could not even have achieved half of what I have,” Rahat says.

Arriving in Doha seven years ago with a degree of business management in hand, she started off by doing jobs in Human Resource Departments and the banking sector before abandoning both to pursue what she truly believed in.

It was always showbiz for her. She is a trained singer and boasts acting cameos on national television back in Pakistan in 1990s to her credit — her academic years.

“I did my MBA after graduating in psychology. Then, I worked in banks and later in an airline’s HR department. But I always had a passion for showbiz. I learned singing from Sohail Rana group in Abu Dhabi where I also did my schooling. My father is a poet so it was sort of inherited,” says Rahat.

However, she entered the field of event management by choice. Rahat began by hosting exhibitions and fashion shows. She has been leading from the front in mobilising the community for charitable activities.

“I take pride in my work where I got 200 orphans from Pakistan sponsored from here and Qatar Charity (QR) awarded me with an appreciation letter. It was the greatest honour for me,” recalls Rahat.

“I reckon that we all work for ourselves and keep working to better our lives but the greatest happiness is to work for the good of others. It is a different feeling altogether,” she adds.

During the worst flooding in Pakistan in 2010, Rahat organised an event to raise funds for the flood victims. It was attended by more than 7000 people and she managed to collect QR35000 from the entry fee. She purchased blankets with that money and donated them to the victims back in Pakistan.

After this event, the Ministry of Interior in Qatar, which she says actively participates in many communities’ activities, recognised her efforts with an award for holding a well-organized and well-attended event.

“I have always had a lot of support from the Pakistani community here and the Embassy of Pakistan and I really appreciate it,” Rahat hastens to add.

So what is this buzz about the Pakistan Fashion Week?

“It is going to be a three-day event and I intend to make it a yearly feature. It will be a star-studded extravaganza as many celebrities from Pakistan’s fashion and film industry are slated to participate,” says the Dhoom events CEO.

Rahat says there will be 12 designers showcasing their work on the first day. Their products will remain on sale during the three days allowing people to do their Eid shopping.

Some of the big names from the fashion industry coming to Doha for the 25th of September show include Lagwanti, Sobia Nazir, Zainab Chotani, Maria B., Amna Ismail, Deepak Parwani and others. Pakistan’s ambassador to Qatar Shehzad Ahmed will inaugurate the fashion week.

“You will appreciate the diversity of our models walking the ramp. We have both male and female categories of designers coming from Pakistan. Imran Rajput will walk the ramp in Arabic gatra which is a new feature. We also have confirmation from celebrities from film industry including Muammar Rana, Saleem Sheikh and Hassan Soomro,” Rahat says with excitement.

There is also a ‘surprise celebrity’ attending the show, but Rahat refuses to reveal her name at this stage. For this year, Rahat says she has managed to rope in Miss Mexico besides models from many other countries to walk the ramp, wearing Pakistani designers’ clothes.

“Last year, we had recruited models from different countries like Brazil, Mexico, Macedonia and some Europeans countries and they did a fabulous job. In our eastern dresses, they looked gorgeous and carried the outfits with élan,” recalls Rahat, referring to the Pakistan Fashion show she organised in 2013.

The Dhoom events founder believes there is a huge interest among the local Qatari population for Pakistani fabric and designs besides products in leather and jewelry. In her last show, she says, more than half of the purchases were made by the Qatari and Arab audiences.

“They like the latest Pakistani fashion, especially the long dresses. However, they prefer maxis, lawn, chiffon, etc. This time we will have leather products, jewelry, and dresses which would interest them even more,” she adds.

For the fashion week, Rahat says she had to put in a huge effort sustained over one year, requiring her to travel between Pakistan and Dubai a lot. The top designers initially were reluctant about the size of market in Qatar for their products.

However, Rahat convinced them otherwise. She believes the market size for Pakistani designer clothes is fast expanding. Her judgment comes from working with Pakistani home-based women and involving them in her Pakistan Women Association (PWA).

These women were selling Pakistani brands which helped the products penetrate the market, making a ground for a bigger pie.

Part of the reason why Rahat decided to make Pakistani fashion scene more vibrant in Doha stems from complaints that not enough Pakistani products were available here, forcing people to purchase them online.

“I have been meeting a lot of people from India, Bangladesh and other countries and they would always complain that Pakistani products were not available,” says Rahat.

“I had to travel to Karachi multiple times for the fashion week and meet designers. I answered their queries regarding market and the expected response. And now they are pretty upbeat,” Rahat deduces.

She works through her team which has a presence in Pakistan’s main cities like Lahore and Karachi besides Dubai, UAE. They remain abreast of the latest development in the fashion industry and stay in touch with key players. This is a constant source of ideas for Rahat.

Rahat is confident that by the end of 2015, Doha will have at least two to three outlets of renowned Pakistani brands. As for herself, she is expanding from Dhoom Events to ‘Rahat Mansoor Presents’, her international brand which is scheduled to organise mega events under its banner in Pakistan and Dubai next year.

Pakistan Fashion Week in Doha is slated for 25th September at the Marriott Hotel.

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