A letter from the editor: Celebrating a decade of Esquire Middle East
A decade or so ago I was rummaging through my life. I’d been studying in the UK for ten years but, having grown up as an expat kid, I retained that rare skillset of being able to condense much of my life into a few bits of luggage. Clothes that fit, important documents, and sentimental trinkets (my lucky Knicks hat; the kit I wore when Italy won the World Cup; and the bowling pin that I ‘borrowed’ from an art gallery back in 2007), all packed away in bags with the word ‘Dubai’ scribbled across them in child-like block letters. My handwriting back then was terrible.
Like most people, I did not know a great deal about the region before I decided to move, but another handy skill of being raised ‘third-culture’ is the nurtured ability to absorb, adapt and advance in alien situations. It was a decision that I’d been warned against. The world was in the midst of a financial crash, and Dubai had just requested a debt deferment (an announement that would cause global stock markets to drop) and landlords were demanding one-cheque rent payments for a year upfront.
But something was calling me out here. I was going through my own life crisis—albeit not one that will cause the stock market to lose any sleep—and perhaps, looking back, I related to the idea of an ambitious new city that fancied itself as a global player and wouldn’t let hardwork or dated opinions get in the way of what it wanted to achieve. I was all in.
Flashforward a decade, and it seems the gamble has paid off. A wife, a kid and my dream job at Esquire Middle East. Esquire is a brand that I had long admired. In the US it has been a culture-altering and zeitgeist-writing staple of contemporary society since the 1930s. Always smart, irreverent and dedicated to telling good stories well. Since the Middle East edition launched ten years ago this month, it has continued to honour that legacy in a region that has finally begun to realise its full potential, and started to bloom at a staggering rate.
Before any other magazine brand of its type, Esquire was on the front lines of culture (metaphorically) and politics (physically) to explore and demystify the misconceptions that people had of a region that people would tarinish as having ‘no culture’. It was here to champion the first waves of creative talents in art, film, music, fashion and literature; and would continue to do so every month with embedded reporting, awards shows, special investigations, bespoke events and exclusive access.
While ten years living in the UK taught me to veer away from self-aggrandising, a decade in the UAE has taught me that perhaps, sometimes, it is okay to celebrate success. I am honoured to be the current captain of this ship, and this issue is a tribute to the writers, editors, photographers, designers and publishers who have helped navigate it through unchartered waters, and to the readers who have ridden every wave with us.
On a personal note the last ten years has taught me is the importance of being able to absorb, adapt, and advance—something I keep meaning to write down and stick on my screen, the trouble is, my handwriting is still terrible.