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A Day with Yana Chala: Candid Shots in Candyland (Model Series)

Beaming of joy, smiling all the way through the shoot and charming everyone with her fiery eyes… Some would see in her an innocent “Alice in Wonderland”, others who know her better will recognise the passionate dreamer she has always been. Her baby face hides the story of a determinate girl who loves to embrace life and explore new things, be it rollerblading, egg-painting, programming or dancing. While the camera might capture how gorgeous the model is, the story behind the picture is even more compelling. Our Model Series this time will shed light on Yana Chala, a Ukrainian student currently living in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Born in Kharkov Ukraine, Yana spent most of her life in a small boarding school before heading to the United States for her senior year of high school as part of the FLEX program. A memorable episode of her life, Yana remembers the year spent in Maine as one of her most rewarding experiences, leaving her not only with a new place to call home, but also with a hunger to explore more of what the world has to offer.

Today, Yana is majoring in Computer Science at NYU Abu Dhabi, splitting her time between writing code and making the most out of a vibrant multicultural community of students she happily calls her friends.

“Computer Science students are often associated with an image of a nerd, usually a guy with glasses on, typing on his keyboard the whole day while missing on on life. It is true that Computer Science is a demanding field and mainly male-dominated, but the image of a nerdy guy is just not reflective anymore of today’s realities. Computer Scientists nowadays can be (and are) bright women that are not scared to join the tech community and prove themselves. I often hear that I don’t look as a Comp Sci major, but words like that just encourage me to work twice as hard and continue doing the things I am passionate about, regardless of what people may think or say. Let’s just say I find pleasure in proving the skeptics wrong!”

What is there more to Yana one might think? A lot! Have we mentioned she masters the art of Egg-painting, a Ukrainian fine tradition passed on from one generation to another? Or that she is a rollerblading freak who spent the past years discovering rollerblading parks in Ukraine, the US and the UAE? I guess you get the point by now, for every model there is a story, there are passions and goals, there is a tale to be told and a person to be celebrated!

The Model Series is a collaboration between Gulf Elite and Nabeela Huda Photography

Shoot (High Resolution Pictures On Request)

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Photography – Nabeela Huda

Nabeela Huda is a UAE-based and Bengali-bred, self-taught, fashion and portrait photographer who enjoys exploring the crazy world with a working team of diverse ethnicities and personalities.

You can find her work here: www.nabeela-huda.com


Creative Assistant – Ellaine Fatima

A graduate of Fine Arts- Advertising from the University of San Carlos (Cebu), Ellaine has worked as an all rounder editorial coordinator for a youth lifestyle magazine in Abu Dhabi, to being an event and marketing manager in different fields. Apart from her daytime job, she’s also a freelance fine photographer and a creative makeup artist with experience in all aspects of media makeup: fashion, video and print.

As an HMUA, Elle’s diverse background, crazy but affable personality and experience displays a unique style accredited only to her and her artistic talent. She has the innate ability to bring out the natural beauty or a whole new different creation out of her subject, no matter the gender, ethnicity or character portrayal.


Makeup Artist – Menna Amin

Menna is a makeup artist based in the UAE. She has an obsession with makeup and everything colorful since she was 10. She got trained in Max Factor Makeup Academy. Her aim is to help every woman to show her natural beauty.

Check her blog for more info: www.beautywithmenna.com


Stylist – Sophie Arni

Sophie Arni is a stylist, photographer, art critic and student of art history. After working in different fields of the creative industry, from FIVE fashion magazine, to the auction house Sotheby’s, she founded Global Art Daily, a global art criticism publication. Besides trekking the world, visiting museums and writing exhibition reviews, she spends her time catching up with the latest fashion news and styles the world away. Follow her on instagram @sophiearni for her accounts of it all.


Videography – Adham Alsiaari

Adham is a person with a unique perspective in multimedia. He enjoys making videos because he believes it brings concepts to life with a blend of creativity and humor. He says that to stand out of the crowd, one needs to see what others don’t see.


Location – Candylicious, Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi

Candylicious is a concept representing fantasy, joy and irreplaceable childhood memories. It combines candy and the world of imagination into a hip and fashion forward candy store. Explore the colorful world of Candylicious with its visually mesmerizing pillars embedded with candy, a canopy of a lollipop tree covered with dangling lollipop favorites and the Candylicious Airplane “taking off” above your heads.

In September 2009, Candylicious opened one of the largest candy stores in the world in The Dubai Mall spanning over 10,000 square feet.

Follow Candylicious on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @candyliciousuae or visit their website!

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