Noor Al Muhaideb is the CEO & Founding Partner of Opaal Interiors and Detay Living. She earned a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from the American University of Sharjah in 2002. She gained her remarkable portfolio over her fifteen years of professional expertise by implementing and completing several residential, hotel, and commercial developments for Emaar Properties.
Clients and coworkers alike hold Noor in high regard for her extraordinary inventiveness, design sensibility, organizational prowess, and capacity to lead diverse teams. With an eye for elegance, craftsmanship, and quality, she is renowned for her world-class visionary style and designs that set trends whilst remaining fresh and timeless year after year.
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Noor Al Muhaideb:
Describe your professional journey as a business leader.
I have always had an eye for beauty and a deep appreciation for lovely spaces. Throughout my childhood, this disposition blossomed into a skill-set as my creative mind explored the possibilities of design. I set my sights on the American University of Sharjah and pursued a Bachelor of Interior Design degree. After graduating in 2002, I was hired as Interior Design Director with Emaar Properties. My fifteen years of extensive experience at Emaar furnished an impressive portfolio. I relished the opportunity to implement and deliver countless residential, hospitality, and commercial developments. As my confidence and first-hand knowledge grew, so did a real drive to complete each project in a timely manner. Now, at the helm of Opaal Interiors, I love to nurture the young designers here. I have not forgotten what it was like to be a fresh graduate and I give each young designer a voice and opportunities to use their gifts. I look for strong, creative, competent thinkers. They each bring immense value to the table, and my hope is that they are empowered here at Opaal to step bravely into the world of design. I take great care in the hiring and training process, ensuring that each candidate understands our unique business model.When we first began, I focused mainly on design for property developers so that I could build a strong business case in one specific area, but now we have really branched out into all kinds of projects and developments. I know this is only the beginning for us!
Who inspires you to wake up every day and keep making a difference in the interior space?
I am a mother of four, and my family is absolutely my greatest inspiration and support. This profession is so rewarding; seeing the vision taken from rough sketches all the way through to the end result is just an incredible feeling. I also love to read books about successful business leaders. There is a bit of a reality check in observing what has been sacrificed, but there is so much wisdom and inspiration in seeing the road to success. I’ve been particularly inspired after reading Shoe Dog and the challenges Phil Knight faced and overcame while building the empire that is Nike. I never assumed that success would be inevitable. There are many factors outside of our hands, as business-owners, but I do know that what I can control is my dedication to put in focused time and effort. And it has truly paid off.
As the CEO and Founding Partner of Opaal Interiors, what challenges have you faced while establishing and running the business?
The biggest challenge proved to be the very early stages of the company. Building client lists and relationships with those clients takes time, and there is no way around it. We’re up against well-established firms, so providing excellent customer service and being willing to go above and beyond helped us build our reputation from the beginning. I am happy to say that the patience and determination to stick with the process has paid off. We’ll still lose a pitch occasionally, but I’m far better at handling those moments now. My reactions to a challenging moment like that are now far more rooted in my knowledge of the complexity of the design world and the many factors that contribute to those decisions.
Brief us about the operations of Opaal Interiors, its mission, vision, and core values.
At Opaal Interiors, we are committed to finding the balance between the ambitions of the user, the needs of the industry, and the shape of the physical space. With ingenuity, enthusiasm, and 50 years of combined experience, we desire each client to feel a sense of partnership in the process of design and creation. We believe that an expertly designed interior is fundamental to a lasting first impression, and take on this responsibility with great gladness and great seriousness. Eager to realize each client’s vision, we combine our understanding of materials, textures, finishes, and colors to elevate the space in a way that authentically represents each client’s vision.
What exactly Opaal Interiors is doing differently in acquiring and sustaining customers for itself?
I believe what sets us apart is, most importantly, the vitality of our client/designer connection. Both strong creative leadership and real client partnerships exist side-by-side. This is our greatest motivation to hire well-rounded professionals with strong communication skills. Working at Emaar also gave me insight into what was missing in the market. Quick execution and timeliness are of high importance, but we never rush the planning process. We are especially meticulous in the concept phase, listening carefully to the client’s needs and requests. We can take a very rough idea and patiently collaborate with the client as the vision becomes more specific. Due to the subjective nature of design, we never assume we know exactly what the client wants, but we communicate several options we know could satisfy their needs and place a high value on their input.
What creative ways have you employed to make the work environment of Opaal Interiors vibrant?
Virtual work has really helped with brainstorming; it may sound counter-intuitive, but away from distractions in the office, our team has really been able to be productive in the idea-generating stage of each project. Even since we returned to the offices in August, the ideas have continued to flow more freely. Perhaps there’s a collective sense of confidence now that we have surmounted the obstacles of 2020. The question we are asking ourselves now is, “How can we enhance even further the way we’re operating?” We believe that good ideas can come from anywhere, and we are open to creative problem solving and innovation of all kinds.
In terms of future growth, where do you see yourself and Opaal Interiors?
As I look into the future of my own career, I see so many thrilling opportunities for growth. Three years ago, we opened a sister company to manage furniture procurement. It is the perfect complement to Opaal Interiors, and I’d love to grow that business so that we can offer an even more robust, holistic experience to our clients. Another huge development in the near future will be the opening of an office space in Saudi Arabia. We see many exciting opportunities to continue expanding globally, and have our sights set on an eventual location in North America. I know this is only the beginning for us.
What do you think are the essentials of being a trendsetting businesswoman?
A strength many women embody is the gift of precise and insightful communication with others. I’ve learned that as businesswomen, we can harness that for the success of our endeavors. Client partnerships are a critical aspect of most businesses, so the ability to place ourselves in the shoes of the client will give us a real edge on the competition. Staying on top of trends (or better yet, setting trends) can seem daunting. Keep your eyes and ears on consumers’ desires and remain true to your unique vision, and you’ll be sure to stay competitive and relevant.