A woman of many talents, Sebaa Orabi’s passion extends far beyond the world of design. Constantly seeking out challenging adventures, she took her love for sport and hiking to the next level by participating in an Everest Base Camp Trek. Her belief in the correlation between a sound body and mind fuels her to push herself athletically. “I wake up every day at five in the morning to make it to the gym by six because it keeps me sharp” Sebaa began, “For me, the challenge starts from early on in the day.”
As the Head of Interior Design at SSH, Sebaa finds that an early workout keeps her creative juices flowing. And with her deep-rooted love for all things design, Sebaa decided to pursue her passion for video games by extending her expertise and gaining a certification in Video Game Modelling. But when you ask Sebaa about her favorite adventure, she says it’s her two daughters, “One is 13 and the other is 11, they are my everything,” Sebaa gushed. So we sat with her to learn more about her experiences and her passion for interior design.
Starting her career as a freelance designer upon graduating from the University of Damascus in 2002, Sebaa found herself working on several smaller projects with different design firms. In 2010, Sebaa’s experience and passion landed her the opportunity to join SSH as an interior designer where she continues to lead her dedicated team to this day. While at SSH, Sebaa went on to get a Master’s degree in Architectural Management and Design from the I.E. University in Spain in collaboration with The Royal College of Art in London. Graduating at the top of her class, Sebaa’s unique degree and experience deemed her eligible for heading the department of Interior Design. Her first order of business: To expand the team and take on bigger projects.
With her team in place, Sebaa took on their biggest project yet – the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center. Working on that project gave them the inimitable opportunity to take on the Amiri Diwan as a client and to work on the interiors for the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Center, Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center and the Al Salam Palace. “I had no time to relax!” Sebaa laughed, “I jumped right in after my Master’s degree with no breaks and it was hectic. But it wasn’t just me, I’ve been working nonstop with a very strong and talented team that I owe a lot to.” Refusing to take the glory all to herself, Sebaa acknowledges the hard work and talent of each of her team members. “Working harmoniously and in a positive environment has given us all the chance to show off our skills,” she stated.
Having worked on several projects and honing her design skills over the years, Sebaa believes that the project that taught her the most when it comes to the technical side of things was the Oman Convention and Exhibition Center. “But the project that’s nearest and dearest to my heart,” Sebaa smiled, “is the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Center.” Creating the drawings and plans for the project, Sebaa and her team had to work quickly and efficiently. “It was such a rush, drawing up plans one day and the next watching them being executed,” Sebaa explained. Working on the plans while the building was being built provided Sebaa and her team with the unique shot to alter and create plans according to reality. “At the end of the day, the renderings don’t do the building’s interior justice!”
Sebaa draws inspiration from the clients’ requests and what the brief entails, making her design-style superbly malleable. “I believe that my job is to translate the client’s needs and add value and functionality,” Sebaa continued, “You need to really understand what the space will be used for and how they interact with it to create what they envision.” While it may be challenging to do so, Sebaa views these challenges as positive experiences. Having learnt a lot from even the most difficult of clients, Sebaa has grown and benefited from each and every project. Her love for interior design hasn’t stopped Sebaa from growing and absorbing as much as she can from everyone around her. “I love what I do and I love working at SSH,” she explained, “I feel like I belong here.” And in terms of what’s next for Sebaa and SSH, “It’s a surprise,” Sebaa laughed.
Up close and personal questionnaire
What do you most value in your friends?
That they don’t let me do crazy things alone.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Happiness is the feeling I have when my body is relaxed, my mind is at peace, and I’m watching Family Guy, surrounded by the people I love.
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My absolute intolerance for stupidity.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I can’t make up my mind. I am stuck between dishonesty, hypocrisy and people who answer “K” instead of Ok.
Which living person do you most admire?
Not one, but two. My precious daughters Leya and Tala.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I am weak in front of a beautifully designed pair of shoes.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I always preach that it is ok not to have experience. As long as you are committed, and you put in the hours, you will make it.
What is it that you most dislike?
Laziness and lack of ambition.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I have always wanted to play classic guitar like John Williams. Specifically, his technique in “Asturias.” He displays pinpoint accuracy and articulation. I just admire that.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
I would still choose to be an Interior Designer. I love what I do.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
What I have accomplished so far in my career at SSH.
What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is not a thing, it’s the good memories I have from my travels. Especially my hike to the Everest Base Camp. It was valuable time spent meditating and self-reflecting.
What is your most marked characteristics?
I would say hard work, commitment and my love for dark humor.
Where would you most like to live?
It doesn’t matter, as long as I am with the people I love in a house I designed myself, with a huge open-space concept, cooking and hosting get-togethers for those I value the most.
What are your favourite words to live by?
I don’t believe in words to live by, I hate people who live by words, as I am a doer. I design, I create and I let my work “speak” for its self.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser @yousefcam.