Free Shipping on all orders above Rs2999

Sale Live Now.

Nani's Subscriptions

Hassle-Free Solution to Childcare Essentials

Tamreez Inam: A Visionary in Cultural Strategy and Creative Arts

Tamreez Inam: A Visionary in Cultural Strategy and Creative Arts

Nani PK |

In the dynamic world of cultural strategy and creative arts, Tamreez Inam stands out as a pioneering force with over 15 years of experience shaping vibrant narratives across the UAE and the UK. With a multifaceted background spanning leadership, consulting, and program management, Tamreez has left an indelible mark on diverse sectors, including education, international trade, economic development, and consumer & retail. 

As the Assistant Festival Director and Head of Programming at the Emirates Literature Foundation, Tamreez orchestrated the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Arab world's largest celebration of literature. Collaborating with hundreds of renowned authors, speakers, and thought leaders, Tamreez curated events that were not only entertaining but also deeply insightful, captivating audiences year after year.

Tamreez's journey in international development, trade, and investment consulting has been equally impactful. With engagements at esteemed organizations like OCO Global, the British Embassy in Dubai, Oxfam, and the United Nations, Tamreez honed skills in program management, strategy, client relationship management, strategic communications, and business development, driving meaningful change on a global scale.

Based in Dubai, Tamreez's passion for making a difference extends beyond professional endeavors. With a background that includes work in Pakistan, the UK, and Dubai, Tamreez's commitment to learning and growth is evident in every project undertaken. Whether in the arts, trade, or development, Tamreez Inam is a beacon of inspiration, dedicated to cultivating creativity and fostering connections that transcend borders.

This new series of interviews by Nani aims to shed the spotlight on amazing Pakistani women who share their insights about work, motherhood, and more, providing a platform for their stories to inspire and empower.

As the Assistant Festival Director and Head of Programming, how did you ensure the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was not only entertaining but also insightful and engaging?

In curating the programme of the festival, my goal was to come up with a programme that would be interesting to the general public - from university students, individuals to families and young children - but would also tackle some of the burning questions in the world, would offer inspiration and thought leadership on issues that matter. It was done through storytelling in multiple event formats, from discussions and talks to film screenings, art displays, musical, theatrical and poetry performances. Another key consideration was to ensure the programme was as diverse as possible, making sure we had authors and artists from around the world and a variety of backgrounds. The UAE is a diverse and multicultural place and I wanted the festival to offer something special to every community, so that everyone felt a sense of belonging - that this was 'their' festival. One of the ways we did this was to offer events in multiple languages, from English, Arabic to Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, Italian, Tagalog etc.

With an extensive background in leadership and consulting, how do you approach building and leading high-performing teams, especially in dynamic and creative sectors?

My approach to leadership is to empower people within my teams. I am a very hard worker myself and believe in leading by example, but at the same time I try not to micro manage and set clear expectations. Open lines of communication and flexibility in terms of policies are also important in fostering a positive work culture. I am also quite open and vulnerable with my teams and believe in sharing, creating opportunities for learning, fun and laughing together.

Can you share a situation where you had to adapt or pivot a program or project strategy in response to unforeseen challenges, and what was the outcome?

The 2022 Emirates LitFest was perhaps the most challenging work project I've ever had to pull off (and thankfully it was a big success in the end!). This was because we were planning for it during the pandemic in 2021 - there were a lot of logistical and covid-related issues we had to deal with, the rules kept changing, and people were anxious to travel and attend events. Our priority was to deliver the festival in the safest way possible for our team as well as the speakers and audiences. When we finally finished the programme and put the tickets up for sale on the website in December of 2021, the government announced the weekend would change from January 2022 to be Saturday and Sunday, instead of Friday and Saturday. Most of our prime events were programmed over the weekend, so we had to change the whole programme, consult the speakers and re-book flights and accommodation.

With over 200 speakers, you can imagine it was an administrative and logistical nightmare! For two weeks, the entire team barely slept and then we re-launched the programme again. During the festival as well, we were constantly testing for covid cases and there were some authors who had arrived in Dubai but had tested positive, so they weren't able to participate. We just put on brave faces and big smiles infront of the speakers and audiences, whereas behind-the-scenes we were panicking - we were the proverbial swans, serene above the surface but frantically paddling underwater! Overall, the festival was a huge success but it really took everything I had to pull it off!

Tamreez, there has always been an internal drive within you to enhance your skills and acquire new ones. Could you share a bit about that aspiration with us?

I consider myself to be a generalist and a lifelong learner aka a geek! I love learning and one of the things I find exciting about a new role is to learn about a new organisation, industry or sector. Otherwise as well, I'm constantly reading and learning. I'm also a huge fan of life coaching and any kind of masterclasses or workshops I can get my hands on, from writing skills to setting up a vision board.

What are the most significant lessons or insights you've gained throughout your career?

My career has been quite a surprise to me. When I was at university, I was clear I was going to work in international development. But with motherhood and changing countries because of my husband's work, I've had to be flexible. I haven't stuck to one industry or field. I have changed and pivoted multiple times during my career and what I've always asked myself is: what do I love to do and where can I add value? Then I follow my instincts about what I'd like to take on next.

Given your background in diverse sectors, do you have a specific area or cause that you are particularly passionate about, and how do you envision making an impact in that space?

I've worked across diverse industries, but what has always been important to me are my core values of fairness and justice. I've always wanted to make a difference in the world, no matter what I do. So whether it was by working in international development or by championing lesser known narratives and underrepresented perspectives in the arts and culture space, I've always been guided by my values.

What's your biggest dream? What long-term goal do you envision for yourself years down the line?

My lifelong dream has been to make a difference in Pakistan, especially when it comes to women's rights, education and opportunities. In recent years, I haven't directly worked in that domain, but I do hope one day I'll be able to bring my diverse skills together to do something that can make a difference in some way, inshallah.

How do you stay so fit? Are you a health buff?

Thank you, I'm surprised to hear it! I don't think I'm a huge exercise or health buff, but I've always been someone who likes to be active and interested in eating in a balanced way. After turning 35, I forced myself to start going to the gym (very reluctantly) for health reasons - not for weight loss, but for strength and stamina. I have developed back pain recently because of spinal disc degeneration, so I've taken to more gentle stretches, pilates and core-strengthening exercises. I have been advised to switch to yoga but I haven't tried it yet. I like going on walks. Recently, inspired by Julia Cameron's advice in her book Write for Life (which focuses on creative recovery and inspiration for writers) I've started going on walks by myself without my phone and I'm surprised by the ways in which I connect with my surroundings and how my mind opens up to new ideas and possibilities. 

What's something someone has said that has stayed with you throughout your life?

I can't think of anything specific that someone said to me, but my greatest source of inspiration and learning in life has been through books. It's strange but no matter what topic I'm thinking of, I'll turn to a book for answers - whether it is work challenges, motherhood, writing advice or spiritual inspiration.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.