Zainab Alsalih, Founder and Creative Director of Carousel Events Discusses Celebration During a Global Pandemic

Lindsay Judge   |   14-09-2021

Over the past eighteen months, there have been many times when celebrating feels wrong. But the reality is, however big or small the occasion we all love to recognise special events or moments in our lives and the lives of our loved ones.


While the concept of large scale events or parties may never be the same again, the world is adapting to provide solutions and new ways of celebrating with the ones you love in a trusted and safe way. In the UAE, many events and parties have had to be cancelled or reworked to adapt to the updated government guidelines around COVID-19, and ensure that guests can celebrate in the safest and best ways possible. Someone who knows all too well how the event industry has had to adjust this year is Zainab Alsalih. As the Founder and Creative Director of Carousel Events, a Dubai-based event planning company, Alsalih has had to adapt her business over the past eighteen months in order to adhere to the new needs of clients and government regulations, as well as ensuring the safety of her staff and event attendees. Her core message of creating a memorable experience for clients that makes them feel happy is always at the heart of everything she does and it’s something even more crucial at a time when many are anxious about the future. As the world gears up to start celebrating again, we discover more on event trends and the outlook for the future of the industry.


What are some of your favourite event décor trends for this season?

Minimalistic and organic décor, as well as preserved flowers. I am also loving monochromatic colour palettes. Perhaps as a result of the hectic 18 months we have all endured, there is great appeal to the calming effect of clean and simple design, and this is perhaps why I am now more drawn to pure and minimalistic décor. It is just so calming and light.



What are the colours we should be looking out for when it comes to event decoration?

When picking your colour palette look at the colours that you tend to wear and decorate your home with, they are usually the tones that you are happiest around, and you can start to build your palette from there. You can either pick shades that are in contrast to one another or pair bold colours with more neutral and natural ones. Contrast warm with cool and always pick a metallic accent such as gold or silver. When in doubt, monochromatic and pastel colour palettes, as well as all whites, are always timeless.


What are some of the simple ways you can recommend for glamming up your house before an event in the home?

By working with what you have around the house and integrating lots and lots of candles. Candles always add glamour to any home or dinner set up. Simple florals, in beautiful colourful containers, can also do the trick. Don’t be scared to experiment and mix and match colours and patterns.


In this issue, we are talking about celebrating – what does a celebration mean to you?

A celebration is first and foremost about the people you celebrate with. Weddings and events are becoming more and more guest-centric. This seems to be driven by people feeling the celebration isn’t simply for and about them, but rather, it’s for and about the people they love and who love them: their family and friends. This notion has been an overriding sentiment, especially in the last 18 months as we have all learnt that what really matters in life is who we share it with.



Are there any table décor trends you are particularly enjoying at the moment?

Mixing and matching flatware and dinnerware, whether within the same colour palette but with different patterns, or different colours within the same pattern. It is so much fun! It also allows you to create multiple unique and personalised table-scapes, never repeating the exact thing twice.


Where is your favourite place to celebrate in the UAE?

Oh wow, difficult question, there are so many beautiful venues, restaurants and locations in the UAE. One of my favourite restaurants to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions will always be Le Petite Maison, but nothing beats celebrating in your own home.



What are some of the things that should be considered when choosing a venue?

First and foremost the size of the celebration, then the occasion, theme and format. When selecting a venue you will have to make sure that it is in line with your vision for that celebration as some venues dictate the style or even the size of your event.


Which flowers should we be considering when hosting a celebration this year?

When it comes to flowers and other décor elements, authenticity and sustainability are becoming more and more important when decorating. Natural and local flowers, as well as dried and preserved ones, are very popular at the moment. I personally also love succulents, fruits and herbs when decorating dinner tables at home.


This past year has been difficult for the events industry – what are some of the ways you have adapted as a business during the pandemic?

Naturally, due to the nature of the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the wedding and events industry was one of the hardest hit, as everything came to a screeching halt overnight. Most of our weddings and events were cancelled and with the uncertainty, most people decided to put their lives and planning on hold. As it became clear that we would not be going back to “normality” anytime soon, I recognised that we had to adapt to these uncertain times and be able to reinvent ourselves. Then, came the idea of Carousel Casa Of course, celebrating life beautifully has always been at the heart of what we do at Carousel and we have spent the past 10 years creating stunning events to help people elegantly celebrate the most significant milestones of their lives. Now with Carousel Casa, we will apply that same creativity and experience to help people celebrate your everyday life with style and beauty. Now more than ever, there is a deep appreciation for the things that really count: family, home, comfort and health. Carousel Casa helps our clients create beautiful memories with those they love, making every moment a memory to cherish and turning every ordinary day into an extraordinary one.


What are some of the safety precautions you are still taking into consideration?

We are of course adhering to all the government guidelines when it comes to events and celebrations whether at home or in venues. Health and safety are ultimately the most important part of what we do, we do not take any chances and we ensure that that our clients understand that we will not break any rules. My whole team and I have been fully vaccinated too.


What is a lesson you have learnt from this time?

That there are always things outside of your control, and that ultimately, health and family are what matter most in life. I have also learnt that we truly must live in the present and savour every moment.



How do you keep calm and stay motivated when things go wrong?

By always being prepared and being one step ahead of any challenge that we may face, and anticipating what’s to come. It’s important to know and accept that things will always go wrong, and with experience comes the confidence of knowing that my team and I can manage any unforeseen circumstance.


What’s the biggest challenge you face today in what you do?

Managing the fallout from all the cancellations as we navigate a very delicate balance of remaining positive but realistic during these trying times. We also have to make sure that we look after ourselves and each other: our clients, our vendors our staff, and our business. There is no easy way to deal with this, but we must remember that we are all in this together and that how you deal with this situation now will determine how people will remember you and your business after this period is over. This has been one of the greatest tests of character, and in the end, how we handle it will define who we truly are, and what we are made of.


What is the motto you live by?

Do it with passion or not at all.