What the Middle East's brightest minds are reading now: Asil Attar

Like the thought of spending your day with the world’s biggest diamonds? Jewellery CEO Asil lets us into her library to see what books inspired her road to success
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What the Middle East's brightest minds are reading now: Asil Attar

Iraqi born, British-raised and American-educated Asil Attar is one of our most inspiring leaders to date. She has held the position of CEO for the past 25 years but her real passion is rooted in the finer things in life – fine and high jewellery. Asil is the first female CEO of Damas Jewellery and go-giver who continues to advocate for female empowerment in the region and beyond.  

"I am American-educated and therefore heavily influenced by American literature. Mark Twain was a literary genius who wrote about his own experiences based on poverty, racism and the political hardships of the 19th century, touching on human relationships. He was also an advocate for educating young women, which very few people know.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are two of his books that, as a 13 years old reader, meant that the world was an adventure, taking risks and gaining experiences. 

My mother, Allah yerhamha, was a huge influence in my life.  She had the face of Sophia Loren and the mind of Einstein, studying at California State University in the heart of Hollywood in the ’50s. Starting at the age of 10 and throughout my teenage years, she would hand me autobiographies of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, alongside others, and I would lose myself for hours and days fascinated with what I was reading. Their remarkable lives and glamour of Hollywood sparked my interest in the world of fashion and jewellery. I wanted to know everything about that decade, and this informed my personal style, which is very much old Hollywood.

I graduated in interior design in 1989, and started out a career in that field before fashion and retail. I come from a family of artists, architects and engineers, and I have a love for the arts and architecture, so one of the first books I purchased at the age of 16 was American Art Deco by Alistair Duncan. Art Deco is my favourite architectural style. I am obsessed, and travelled to Glasgow in my twenties to convince the Charles Rennie Mackintosh museum (Glasgow Mackintosh) to allow me to use his archives to print on textiles and wallpaper. I was deeply ambitious. 

My must-have read of 2019, which isn’t published yet is from my husband, author and lifestyle coach, Tavis Stewart.  Pocomaxa, a novel based on three generations of six women, set between the 1950’s Cold War and present day, power struggles of politics and greed.

Photos: Supplied