Abdullah Al-Jumah, Global Sophisticate
At first glance, Abdullah looks like he could be a model – maybe a European model, an Arab one, or even a Latin one. This ambiguity, coupled with his universal good looks, is what makes him hard to miss. Abdullah charmed his way through hordes of car enthusiasts at the event, looking glamorous and every inch the style icon that he is. It’s no surprise that Cartier snapped up this handsome, young overachiever from Saudi Arabia to be one of their brand ambassadors from the Middle East. The perpetual nomad is always on the cusp on a new adventure, and we were only too happy to get a glimpse into the exciting journey of this truly international citizen.
Saudi-born, global citizen
30-year-old Abdullah was born in Saudi Arabia but educated in Europe and America. An alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Law School, he has Saudi roots, but global branches.
Man of many hats
Al Jumah is a jack-of-all-trades, and surprisingly a master of many. He is an avid traveller, author, professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, and also advises legally at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia. He has travelled to more than 80 countries in the course of the past few years, and has put his looks to good use by hosting the first ‘flashpacking’ travel show in Arabic, called Rahalla.
As if that were not enough, he is also the author of Greats Without Schools, Orphans Who Changed the Course of History, and the critically acclaimed Tales of a Saudi in Europe. He is also coming up with another book in 2017 that will take readers on a trip through Latin America through his eyes. His talents have certainly been recognised by his peers and contemporaries, as the Arabian Business Magazine Al Jumah named him one of the most powerful Arabs under 40.
On his book, Tales of a Saudi in Europe
Al Jumah documents his journey through Europe, and vivaciously describes the cultures, diversity and different outlooks on life that he encountered while on his trip. The book has enjoyed a roaring success in Saudi Arabia.
Association with Cartier
Al Jumah was picked to be one of the Middle Eastern ambassadors for Cartier, and he is especially proud of this association. He believes that the brand’s great history and commitment to quality over the years reflects the values with which he lives his own life.
One of his favourite memories while travelling
Al Jumah shares an anecdote of one of his visits to Denmark. He says, that on a visit to Copenhagen, he expressed his admiration for the altar in the Church of Our Lady cathedral. In turn, his Danish friend said that he preferred the pure whiteness of mosques, which eases one’s spiritual connection with the divine without distractions. Al Jumah recollects that he had visited mosques around the world thousands of times, but this was a thought that had never occurred to him; his non-Muslim friend had opened up his mind in a new way.
Tips for modern day travellers
Al Jumah says that in today’s era of hyper-connectivity and smartphones, people can travel the seven seas yet still carry the burdens of work and family with them. His advice: leave your devices behind, or keep their use to a bare minimum on your travels to get the most out of your experience.
From nomad to settling down
While he loves his peripatetic lifestyle, Al Jumah also considers settling down. He is open to where this could be, though, whether in Saudi Arabia or Spain, where he currently lives. He has one simple criteria: the place should allow him to evolve and grow as a person, because there is nothing Al Jumah dislikes more than standing still. Touché to that, Abdullah! We couldn’t agree more.
Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara
What has your experience in Hyderabad been like so far?
I’ve never been to Hyderabad before; it’s my first time at a Cartier event and also the first time in in the city. It’s great to be here and see so many cars that relate to India so much, and for me to understand the classic Indian car scene.
What has your association with India been like in the past?
Not as much as it should’ve been. I have been to the usual tourist spots in India like Delhi, Rajasthan, and all that, but haven’t been around quite enough.
What are your impressions of Hyderabad?
Everyone’s nice and charming, I hear it’s called the polite city of India (laughs). Everyone seems lovely. We went into town for a few hours; it was busy. One of the startling things about India is just how much is going on. There is so much activity, lots of people, and everyone’s doing business, trading… it’s all beautifully chaotic.
What’s your take on the restoration of vintage cars?
People need things to do with their cars. Often people put them away. They don’t have a reason to restore them. Having events like the Concours d’Elégance is great because it gives people something to do with their cars. Most people I spoke to here, who’ve restored cars, have done so very recently. Most cars were restored in the past year, which is remarkable. Another thing that is astonishing is that it takes a year for such cars just to be painted, but these cars have taken less than a year to fully restore. Everyone is very hands-on here and it is an amazing achievement. This event is a great reason to get the job done. The more they do, the more skills the acquire, which is splendid.
You look like quite the English gent one reads about in a P.G. Wodehouse novel. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Why thank you (laughs)! I live in Goodwood in England and my family has been there for 300 years. My father is the 10th Duke of Richmond. Our sporting estate, where we have horse riding, motor racing, and cricket, is a famous sporting estate which also has the earliest written rules of cricket it the world, in the archive. The 4th Duke of Richmond lent Thomas Lord the money to buy the Lords a cricket ground in London. In fact, the earliest game of cricket played at Goodwood was in 1702. We still have a lovely cricket pitch and still play there.
Does your style have a lot of thought put into it?
I wear suits mostly, and also veer on the side of being formal. Right now I am wearing an Indian climate-friendly linen suit.
Kanwar Dhananjai Singh and Princess Mrigesha Kumari of Khimsar
You are the quintessential handsome, young royal couple. Tell us something about yourselves.
MK: I am from Rajkot and have been married in Khimsar, which is 60 kms away from Jodhpur. My husband and I have been married for five years and our daughter just turned two.
DS: We have been regulars at the Cartier Concours Travel with Style show; we’ve been there for the past few shows in Mumbai and Delhi. It’s a fantastic change to be here in Hyderabad and great to see Manvendra Singh Bharwani, the curator of the Cartier event in India taking the rally around the country. One gets to meet new people and see new cars from all around India, and this time it also happens to be at a breath-taking venue.
You’ve been participating at the Cartier event with your collection of vintage cars from the very beginning. What’s been the most memorable part for you?
DS: There is no one particular thing that stands out as memorable because they never repeat the same cars here. Every experience is very different. You get to see different fantastic cars, and each moment is quite special.
MS: Sometimes we have our cars in the Preservation category and sometimes in the Restored category, so it is never the same. You can’t really say which the best is; they are all at par with each other.
What’s your favourite part of the show?
DS: One tends to learn a lot as an owner of vintage cars, and meet a lot of people under one roof, from all spheres of life, internationally as well. All the distinguished people who are judging the cars, from all corners of the world, are hard to come by at once usually. If one wants to meet them they’ll have to go all around the world, but here they are all together.
MS: My husband is one of the youngest car enthusiasts here (smiles), so it is always enjoyable for me to accompany him to all the Concours where he exhibits our vintage car collection. He is so dedicated to the restoration of our collection throughout the year, alongside all the other activities that he pursues.
Were you always interested in cars?
DS: Yes, I have been fascinated with cars from a very young age. I had a huge collection of small toy-scale models when I was growing up. Eventually, the collection evolved into a collector’s scale model, so they are not mere toys, but collectors’ pieces. As I was growing up, I began to develop an interest in the cars that used to belong to our family in the past. While travelling abroad and visiting various automobile museums, my interest was piqued further.
MS: Our families also gave away lots of vintage cars.
DS: We are just trying to get things back, as they’ve been part of our family’s legacy.
What’s it like being a royal in modern India?
MS: Cracking a balance in today’s world is very important; you need to keep up with the times as well as maintain and preserve the customs and traditions of the past. We have grown up this way and will be certain to instill the same values in our children.
DS: We love preserving the past and the rich history that it comes with. We are proud of our heritage and try to live our everyday lives with the values that have been in our families for generations.
What are your other interests?
DS: I am a hotelier, and our old palace and the fort has been converted into a hotel called Khimsar Fort. We are with ITC Hotels, and right next to that we have a sand dune resort, which is a one-of-its-kind in India. And the third property is in the Himalayas. I am also a politician with the BJP.
Priyadarshini Kumari Dungrapur
How has your experience at the Cartier event been this year?
The day has been wonderful, we’ve been attending the show for the past two years but this time the cars have been of a great quality. There is immense beauty with the restoration work and of course the venue is almost magical. We have a family history with restoration of vintage cars. My husband has been into it and has been incredibly passionate about it. It is true the boys never outgrow their toys (laughs)!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am less into cars and more into making my home (smiles). I am originally from Jodhpur and was married into Dungarpur. I look after my children, in laws, and palace. I am really into food and also run a palace called the Udaivilas Palace.
- Suneela Kirloskar