O Concept revealed

We visited the café, shop, gallery, and generally nice place to hang-out, for a quick look around

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We have to hand it to Omar Mohd. Bin Kediya. This 37-year-old Emirati is not one to rest on his laurels. It was a only a mere seven months ago that he decided to open O Concept, which is sure to be one of Dubai’s most talked about and visited boutiques of 2009.

Perhaps referring to O Concept as a boutique, however, is not entirely accurate. Part clothes emporium, part purveyor of design pieces for the home, part art gallery all finished off with a dash of quirky objects and garnished with covetable accessories make it somewhat difficult to define. Oh, and did we mention the café?

On paper this jack-of-all-trades establishment sounds a bit helter-skelter, but somehow it all works. This is due in no small part to Keyida’s vision, his own personal style and the motley assortment of friends and family that he’s brought in to work on the project.

‘This is what I’ve been searching for in all my travels. I wanted to make something for Dubai that I would like to visit myself and hang out in,’ says Kediya who studied business administration in the UK. And, on this point, he’s true to his word. During the course of writing this article, Time Out visited O Concept four times and on each Kediya was present. ‘I am passionate about this,’ he says. ‘I’m here all day, everyday, working with my manager, helping to train the staff, talking to our customers. We’ve only been open two weeks, but we have regulars already.’

We’re not surprised that people are coming back. The atmosphere is welcoming and the customer service is understated yet helpful when required – there is deliberately no shoulder-shadowing here. ‘We want people to feel comfortable. We want them to feel free to stay all day, to browse and to sit down and have a coffee, and then look around again.’

Built in what was once Keyida’s childhood home, O Concept is most striking at first glance because of its design. Conceptualised by Keyida’s close friend and Central St Martin’s graduate Pam Oshal, the space invokes an idiosyncratic mix of European street café, industrial chic and Scandinavian minimalism. The furniture is French-inspired, the floor is a glittery mess of polished concrete, and the dressing rooms bring back memories of trying on dresses in Spitalfield’s Market in London.

It’s flashy, not trashy, but spacious without seeming austere. ‘I call it industrial glamour,’ says Oshal, who not only designed the interior, but has also assisted with the buying for the store as well. ‘We like to support up-and-coming designers, people who we see have real potential,’ she says. Of these Time Out particularly adores the sparkly kitten motifs on T-shirts and tops by Siren, Ruth Eritokritou’s pieces that look a little Missoni-esque and Dari Maya’s cute baby-doll dresses. The men are well looked after too with a range of funky cowboy shirts from Bogosse and printed T-shirts from Super Superficial.

Other standout pieces include sculpture from Rubik’s cubes, pop art canvases and the classic deck chair upholstered with James Bond movie posters. There’s also a range of jewellery, handbags and shoes to covet.

This, of course, is all well and good, but is Kediya worried about his chances of success given the current economic climate? He shrugs his shoulders. ‘We have things here for sale from Dhs25 to Dhs25,000. There’s something here for everyone, and if we can make it now, we can make it at any time. Good or bad.’ And with his obvious passion, optimism, style and nous, we think that he might be right.
O Concept (04 345 5557), Open 10am-10pm daily. Beach Residents Building, Shop Number two (near Saladicious and The ONE), Jumeirah 1

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