The 'Hi'gh Life

"Oprah has been my idol for a long time," says the impressive Sima Ved
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The 'Hi'gh Life

The vibrant Sima Ved is undoubtedly a woman to emulate. To begin with, she is the Vice Chairman of the Apparel Group which has over 620 stores, more than 50 international brands and is still growing at an astounding rate. As if this wasn't a lot already, she hosts her own TV show right here in Dubai, Hi Tea with Sima Ved, where she interviews B'wood's stars and even gets them to share their recipes right in her kitchen in front of an audience! With a fantastic sense of humour that will have you rolling on the floor and a penchant to throw some of the best lunches, replete with conversation that is both intellectual and fun, Sima has depth, range and a wicked sense of fun beneath the shrewd businesswoman's exterior. We chat with one of Masala! Awards' most vivacious judges in her lovely home...

You have worked in entertainment and in the corporate world; which professional arena do you prefer?
The entertainment world is exciting and new for me as the people can be unpredictable and totally eccentric. It was a lot of fun meeting Bollywood's icons, most of whom we all tend to have preconceived notions about. What's more, some of them completely surprised me with their humility and modesty.

I have seen the corporate and business worlds up-close through my father, brother and husband's professions. Therefore, I was
never unfamiliar with the workings of the Apparel group.

However, between the entertainment and corporate worlds, I would choose the latter in the long run as I am definitely more geared towards it. Our expansion into F&B with Tim Hortons has been a huge eye-opener. The serpentine queues outside the Sheikh Zayed Road restaurant have surprised us all pleasantly. I am very excited to explore the bevy of brands our group is planning to add to our F&B portfolio!

What would you say is the most challenging undertaking of your life, both in your personal and your professional life?
Personally, it's challenging being a businesswoman, a mother and having a social life at the same time. It is solely due to the support of my husband, Nilesh and my extended family, that I am able to think out-of-the-box and pursue my dreams.

On a professional level, it's quite difficult to get back into work mode once you take a sabbatical. In my case, I had to take one for nine years to have my children. I must admit, it has been tough getting back into the swing of things and being as productive as before.

Your show Hi Tea With Sima Ved was a hit – can you tell us how you conceptualised the show and made the entire thing happen?
In my opinion, Oprah changed the face of television; she has been my idol for as long as I can remember. Her success and confidence, despite her fluctuating weight, really inspired me to start a show of my own.

The original concept of Hi Tea With Sima Ved was to highlight local people, causes and inspirational companies. However, somewhere along the line, the focus changed to Bollywood which everyone seems to enjoy. I am hopeful that
Hi Tea with Sima Ved will return to its initial concept in the future.

Are you planning on doing another season? What Bollywood guests are on your wish-list this time?
If I do another season, it definitely won't be Bollywood-centric. Aside from wanting to interview Rishi Kapoor and Aamir Khan, I would love the opportunity to explore more local personalities as well.

Can you tell us what is your most memorable Masala! Awards moment is?
?My favourite Masala! Awards moment was when Karan Johar sat on our table and criticised Dubai society for being so star-struck. Within the next three minutes I had asked him for a picture. The look on Karan's face was simply priceless (laughs)!

What are you most looking forward to at the awards this year?
I am really looking forward to all the meetings and discussions before the actual event takes place. It is astounding how hard and serious the process really is.

Do you know what you are going to be wearing at this year's awards?
I am a moody and a convenient dresser. So even though I am toying with the idea of a sari, I will not be surprised if I opt for an evening gown on the big night instead.

Did you go on any great holidays this year?
Wow! This year has been quite a whirlwind of travel. I have been to Prague, London, Paris, Delhi, Jammu (for Vaishno Devi), Seville, Rome and I am going to London again very soon as Nilesh is taking me to see George Michael at the Royal Albert Hall as an early birthday present.

Your home is lovely – did you design it yourself?
Johann Krugger and I designed it together. Being Sindhi, I adore crystals and Johann had to spend most of his time pulling me back from my over-the-top and ostentatious ideas!

What is your favourite corner?
I am very fond of the round sofa in my daughter's room. It is perfect for a couple of girls to lounge on and play a board game. I love the Moroccan-themed area in my formal living room – it is my sanctuary.

What piece in your home means the most to you?
One of the most treasured pieces in my home has to be a Buddha that I recently bought when I was in Jodhpur. Not only does the Buddha have the most serene smile with his eyes closed but it is also from my father's hometown, which just makes this piece all the more precious to me.

What would your dream home look like?
In all honesty, my dream home would be very similar in colours to my current home. I would however, add a spa, a larger area for my kids to play in and a proper bicycle track around the house. I would love to have my very own fruit and vegetable garden where I can plant mangoes, bananas and whatever else will grow in Dubai's climate.

If you had to change or amend anything in your home, what would it be?
I would definitely want to build a bigger basement so that I can create various game rooms in my home.