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The Lighthouse Conversations

Arts • Business • Society-and-culture

Hashem Montasser, Founder of the The Lighthouse Restaurant & Concept Store in Dubai Design District, is a raconteur who avidly follows the work of arts, culture, technology and, of course, food. In a series of conversations aimed at introducing its audience to the Middle East’s entrepreneurialRead more

Popular episodes

“Food is an open ended problem, we’ll never perfect it.” Amir Allam, Founder of Egypt’s biggest food discovery platform Elmenus on his obsession with problem solving & how he will meet his biggest challenge yet - building Elmenus to scale.

Nov 25 • 43:15

On this week’s episode, Hashem caught up with Amir Allam, a fellow Egyptian and graduate of the infamous DEO, the German school in Cairo. Amir Allam is the Founder of Elmenus, an F&B marketplace boasting digital menus & delivery for over 6000 restaurants across Egypt. Founded just days shy of the Egyptian revolution back in 2011, Elmenus is now—10 years on—Egypt’s biggest ...

“Investors look for traction and Founder’s pedigree.” Ramy Adeeb shares his journey from computer science to building his own venture capital firm, 1984 Ventures

Nov 10 • 43:39

As fellow Egyptians and graduates of Harvard College in the 90s, Hashem and Ramy Adeeb initially shared a similar path that led them from Cairo to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We caught up with Ramy this week via Zoom in Silicon Valley to follow his journey from young computer programmer writing software at age 12 to his pivot from startup to venture capital and back again. D...

“Success in design means finding a good recipe and dreaming big.” Design wunderkinder David & Nicolas on 10 years as a successful brand and what makes their partnership click.

Oct 28 • 49:03

Hashem is joined this week— via Zoom call from Milan— by David & Nicolas, the Milan/Beirut-based design duo whose retro-futurist work is featured in the acclaimed Nilufar Gallery and Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Hashem and David/Nicolas discuss their fixation on time as a “marker” and how it affects their designs; the hybridity of their identities; the aesthetic influences...

“Investing is about proving a thesis.” Feras Jalbout on the nascent investing culture in the region, crypto currencies and launching his trading app Baraka

Oct 14 • 45:36

In today’s episode, Hashem caught up with Feras Jalbout, founder of fintech app Baraka. A UAE-based platform, Baraka’s motto is empowering the investor and encouraging broader financial literacy among millennials and Gen Z’s in the Middle East. Hashem and Feras also discussed his pivot from private wealth management to launching Baraka, the future of crypto currencies, and...

“Barbeque is an analogue experience.” Hattem Mattar on the subtle science of live fire cuisine and why he finally made the jump to a full time gig

Sep 30 • 45:59

Welcome back, listeners! In our first episode post-summer, host Hashem Montasser caught up with Hattem Mattar, founder of The Mattar Farm for specialty artisanal smoked meat, brisket and third culture barbecues. Hashem and Hattem chatted about the hybridity of his upbringing; life as a father of two young children; and what finally pushed him to turn The Mattar Farm from s...

“Nothing is more important than the founder.” Khaled Talhouni on his journey from venture capital to supporting startups with Nuwa Capital

Jul 22 • 47:02

This week we dive into the world of venture capital and startup investing as Hashem catches up with Khaled Talhouni, Founder and Managing Director of Nuwa Capital, a Dubai/Riyadh-based investment platform he set up with partners Stephanie Nour Prince and Sarah Abu Risheh. Hashem and Khaled discuss his journey in the early days of venture investing in Dubai and why he prefe...

“I had a feeling of hybridity that I wanted to both capture and express” Hashem Montasser on his journey from Wall Street to building The Lighthouse from the ground up

Jul 8 • 50:32

This week we reunited with one of our favorite podcast guests from 2020, Fatafeat founder and overall renaissance man, Youssef El Deeb. Having met last summer just as The Lighthouse reopened post-lockdown, Hashem and Youssef formed a bond over chocolate cake, books and a shared nostalgia for Egypt’s ancien regime. In this episode, the tables were turned with Youssef playin...

“When it comes to homegrown concepts in Dubai, this is only the beginning.” Sandy El Hayek on Dubai’s F&B scene & how to play it for the long haul

Jun 17 • 45:36

This week Hashem caught up with Sandy El Hayek, the newly minted General Manager of Dubai’s Time Out Market which launched in April in collaboration with Dubai mega developer Emaar. A veteran of Dubai’s F&B scene, Hashem and Sandy talked about her childhood as the daughter of Lebanese immigrants in Halmstad, Sweden, how her family dynamics influenced her passion for work (...

“The artist’s box doesn’t have to be small or exclusive.” Maha Maamoun on her multidisciplinary art practice and the importance of making art accessible to a wider audience

Jun 3 • 50:15
In today’s episode, host Hashem Montasser, a collector of Middle East art, catches up with multi-disciplinary and award-winning Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun. Maha expands on how her series “Domestic Tourism” and “Cairoscapes” came about and shares the fascinating stories behind the composited photographs. Hashem and Maha discuss the importance of displaying art to a broade...

“Curiosity is a blessing and a curse.” Manal Ataya on why curiosity became an essential trait in navigating her career as museum director.

May 19 • 39:06

In our first episode since Ramadan break, Hashem is joined by Manal Ataya who, as the Director General of Sharjah Museum Authority, sits at the helm of 16 museums documenting and consolidating the cultural heritage of the region. They discuss the “inner workings” of a museum director and why Manal finds curiosity and hunger for knowledge so essential to success in her fiel...

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