Sara Abbas, a multi-talented artist and a "Royal Connector"
L'ÉPOQUE - A friend of women and promoter of quality since 1845, L'ÉPOQUE features some international women leaders who are making a difference with their talent and social commitment. For the June cover and lead story, L'ÉPOQUE honors award-winning artist and entrepreneur Sara Abbas.
06.07.2023 © L'ÉPOQUE USA
By Lilly Carter
L'ÉPOQUE USA - Cover No. 03 - June 2023 - Photo by © John Dole
Sara Abbas is a multi-talented artist, a diverse global leader and the award-winning founder of a brand portfolio that includes her innovative fashion company, a diversity-focused talent and consulting agency, an international financial firm, and a nonprofit organization. She sits on the board of Forbes and works with several international organizations, including Who is Who International Awards and World Innovation Alliance.
Sara Abbas has dedicated many years to her passion for strategically connecting others and building cross-cultural bridges. She brings together some of the brightest minds, earning her the nickname "Royal Connector". Many of her elite guests are diplomats, heads of state, aristocrats, celebrities, musicians, influencers and prominent CEOs, to name a few.
Photo by © Annalisa Johnson
Sara Abbas is currently designing new collections for her fashion line, has several new literary projects in the works, is developing a screenplay about the first Gulf War, and runs other projects in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. She also advises companies on practical and cost-effective ways to reduce their carbon footprint and is passionate about preventing deforestation (in conjunction with other global causes she supports).
Among her significant accomplishments, Sara Abbas has received the prestigious Nelson Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize and received an honorary doctorate in global leadership. Sara Abbas has been named one of the Top 6 CEOs in the world by CEO Rankings, she has received several awards from the Global Council for the Promotion of International Trade for her efforts in sustainable fashion, and she has been recognized fromw various non-profit organizations and UN-recognized NGOs for her efforts on a number of humanitarian causes.
In addition to supporting her portfolio and other ventures, she enjoys contributing to humanity as an author/writer, inventor, singer/songwriter, world traveler, health/fitness enthusiast, art lover, cultural ambassador and luxury brands and event liason.
Photo by © John Dole
Versatile artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. What has driven your career?
«As a former refugee of the first Gulf War, I vividly recall what brought me joy in darker times during my life; love, art, culture, kindness, music, innovation, beauty, building lasting connections with others, and so on. I spent much of my childhood in different parts of the world and, as a result, was deeply moved by numerous avenues of creation. Through the support of my incredible parents (my mother being especially encouraging), I was brought up to believe that I could be a polymath, like Leonardo Da Vinci, if it was what my heart desired. That loving support helped me to fully develop all the many tangents within my portfolio and the fulness of my life today», she said.
What are your values and priorities?
«Some of my priorities and values evolve over the years, but some things remain constant; creation and contribution are high atop that list when it comes to priorities. I was blessed with a very clear vision and purpose for my life for as long as I can remember, so following my vision and leaving this planet better than when I arrived will, too, remain a priority. It should also be said that constant learning and evolution coupled by a spirited appreciation for love, kindness, peace, beauty, art, innovation, nature, and giving back is something that keeps me centered and excited about the future as much as the present».
© Nelson Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize
In a world that does not always favour women, you have distinguished yourself by being at the forefront of various entrepreneurial activities. What challenges have you faced and what advice would you like to give to other women who are striving for financial independence but also for high positions?
«Invest in yourself first and always continue to learn as much as you can. There have been times when the projects and dreams of others have overshadowed my own; as nurturers, we are often all too happy to help or give so much of ourselves that we have little left for our own dreams. We need to be mindful to look out for ourselves first and it will better enable us to look out for others, to grow, evolve, support, succeed, and ultimately lead by example. My mother is one of the most inspiring women I know, and she always ensured that I was surrounded by other strong female figures growing up. Create a circle of those who inspire you and have varying strengths or insights from which to learn.
Our wholeness heals others, and when our proverbial cup is overflowing, everyone around us can freely enjoy the radiance of our energy».
© Sara Abbas
What are the most important decisions, but also the sacrifices, that have shaped your path so far?
«The importance of being true to myself has been one of the biggest decisions or life lessons I’ve come to learn; at certain times I had let my vision, my goals, or even my dreams slip out of sight, especially when I was unclear on how I would achieve what I wanted to accomplish. People, who typically mean very well, may try to lead you one way or another. It can be too easy to get caught up in the dreams of others (losing sight of your own) in the process, especially when one is empathetic. In staying true to my own self and personal life path, or in trusting my intuition, it has, at times, been a lonely road. There are few who understand the complexities of carrying out a grand vision or who can relate to what I have experienced in such a short period of time. So, that had been an ongoing sacrifice, but as I gained momentum and awareness, it helped me to attract others who were supportive and understanding along the way. Interviews such as this one also help that process, so thank you for the beautiful opportunity to share more of my story».
© Who is Who International Awards
Art is an essential part of your life. Please tell us about your passion for music. Where does this passion come from and how does it enrich your life?
«Music has always had a special place in my heart having had such an international upbringing. I was exposed to so many kinds of wonderful music. I traveled frequently with my family and was blessed to have parents with very different musical tastes, as well as grandparents who were thrilled to share their own preferences with me as well. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents, which helped me appreciate more classic genres. My father was also particularly musical and could pick up nearly any instrument and play by ear. I always idolized this talent of his and it helped me to discover that my own instrument was my voice, and that was the beginning of music for me… I would create original music and even musicals as a young child, often to accompany things I would write or a performance I would choreograph. I would sometimes include original fashion or drawings in this, so these early childhood productions that my dear family so lovingly tolerated (bless them!) served as a foundation for what I hope to continue to create later in life. Music always helped me cope with intense times or unusual circumstances, I could get lost in the creative process and would come out stronger every time».
Photo by © John Dole
You work hard to disseminate medical and scientific information. What scientific or medical issues do you advocate?
«I am a big advocate of a healthy mindset, first and foremost. I believe the mind is the key to our success with any medical or scientific approaches to health, as all is ultimately connected. That being said, some things I encourage others to do is to get plenty of sleep, meditate, pursue happiness, follow dreams, enjoy life more, carefully educate themselves, and reduce stress whenever possible (or change your reaction to it). I find there is great power in living a less stressful life; promoting a genuinely positive outlook and reducing as much stress as possible in my life better enables me to stand up for others in the long run».
You were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by Nelson Mandela. That is a significant achievement. Can you explain what led you to this goal and how you use your resources to promote peace?
«Receiving this award was truly one of the most heart-warming occasions in my life and it was a supreme honor for me to see this come to life the way it did. It reminds me that there is always work to be done, and to be grateful for the ability to serve others. I have always felt a great sense of responsibility with any visibility or following I may be blessed to have. I strive to use it wisely and for the benefit of the greatest good, so I actively liaise with several organizations, global non-profits, charities, and NGOs, to make an impact and share impactful opportunities with others, while also showing how to integrate these values into everyday life. I believe that “we rise by lifting others”, so I am constantly trying to shine any light I can on those who are serving humanity. Somehow, in doing what feels right and natural, the impact caught the attention of the Nelson Mandela Nobel Peace Award Academy, and I will continue to promote peace in any way possible for as long as I can (hopefully even after my own departure from this life)».
© Who is Who International Awards - Sara Abbas with Mr. Dimitrios Goris, Mrs. Vicky Papageorgopoulou and H.R.H. Prince Nereides Antonio Giamundo de Bourbon
You work with a number of international organisations, including the Who is Who International Award. How did this cooperation come about and what has it achieved so far?
«I believe I came to learn about Who is Who through the wonderful work of Sheikha Instisar Al-Sabah, who is doing remarkable things for refugees and women in the Arab world especially. Her work has always inspired me and I learned that there were others, at Who is Who International Awards, who shared my interests in highlighting others making a serious impact on a global scale. Because our values and interests aligned so well, a partnership made perfect sense to us all and we have since been able to expand the circle and the spotlight on those who are making change. The ripple effect of our collaboration has been nothing short of amazing».
© Sara Abbas
We read that you are developing a fashion line. Can you tell us more about it?
«Thank you for asking, this is a project that is also dear to my soul because for years I had designed things for myself that I was unable to find in stores. The natural progression for me was to create some innovative pieces for others, share my love for flattering the female form, secure some patents, and expand this into creating beautiful, timeless designs for others as well. Currently the brand sustainably manufactures all pieces in Italy and seeing these designs come to life has been a deeply rewarding process on many levels. We typically do couture evening wear and occasion pieces for women, but collections also include ready-to-wear lingerie, swimwear, and resort wear, with more in the works (including some things for gentlemen as well). While we expand our collections, we are also preparing to hit runways again, as early as this summer».
© Who is Who International Awards - Sara Abbas with H.H. Princess Maja von Hohenzollern
You are also active in the entertainment industry and are currently developing a script about the first Gulf War. Can you give us a little preview?
«This is another project with deeply personal ties, of course, so I’m delighted to share more. I have collected journals and firsthand documents throughout the first Gulf War and compiled stories from family and those around me. I have original video footage that I recorded as well and hope to eventually work it all into the film. What has unfolded is a drama based on a true story about an unlikely couple finding love in spite of war, health barriers, and cultural differences aplenty, all while exposing some of the war’s best kept secrets. It details some of the nuances overlooked by international media during the war and also gives the perspective of civilian impact without an agenda; that is often not fully portrayed in films about war, as they often show more of the perspective from a military or government standpoint».
Photo by © Matthew Chevalier
There are countries like Iran or Afghanistan where women are still dying for the conquest of their rights. What would you like to say about that?
«First of all, “thank you” is in order for anyone brave enough to stand up for what they believe to be right and just. Progress is not made without effort and when the stakes are high, it’s heartbreaking to see the peril of so many courageous women, but also it gives me hope that change is near. I pray that all women and anyone experiencing oppression of any kind can rest peacefully in the faith that they are making a difference. Humanity has a heart of its own, and that heart cannot fully beat until balance is restored».
And finally, as a philanthropist, what are your goals?
«I am constantly awed and inspired by these organizations I partner with and by the remarkable people I encounter through them who are giving back in a major way. I am learning as much as I can in the process to eventually grow my non-profit and make a large-scale impact as well. I am deeply moved by peacekeeping, refugee relief efforts, human rights, women’s issues, economic empowerment, arts / culture, environmental impact, and an array of causes impacting the planet. Each day I discover new ways I want to help and so the challenge will likely be deciding how to focus philanthropic efforts as things evolve».
What is your motto?
«The way you are different is the way you will shine!
Embrace being you and all the beautiful glory of your uniqueness.