Hatem Alakeel

The designer behind Snoop Dogg’s thobes
ByJasmine BandaliTuesday , 04 March 2014
Ten years from now… I want to have introduced my brand internationally and for it to have a presence in Europe and the United States.
© ITP Images
Ten years from now… I want to have introduced my brand internationally and for it to have a presence in Europe and the United States.
© ITP Images

Hatem has garnered himself a legion of fans with his Toby label, but when Snoop Dogg, who was performing in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2012, asked the designer to dress him for the concert, he admits it got 2013 off to quite a start! As exciting as the collaboration was, he was in for an even bigger surprise when the rapper decided to wear his entire collection of thobes in his Here Comes the King music video. “I was completely blown away,” he says.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Hatem went to boarding school in Switzerland before completing his higher education in Boston. Here, a stint of modelling gave him his first exposure to the fashion world, but upon his return to Saudi he decided to get a job working as a banker. But the environment stifled him, and having to wear the same cookie-cutter thobe drove him to distraction. After finding a tailor to make some modifications, he realised that people liked what he was doing, and Toby was born.

Having found his niche, Hatem has never looked back. He opened his first boutique in 2007 and chose to lay down permanent roots in Dubai two years ago. As the label continues to grow, Hatem reveals his only problem lies in being too much of a perfectionist and continuing to involve himself in every aspect of the business. “I wish there were more hours in the day,” he says. “My day is endless!”