For those of you who know Mona Al Aref know what a bubbly, vivacious and a fun-loving person she is. She is all of that and yet so much more is still under wraps and we will uncover them for you layer by layer. CIIN sat with Mona Al Aref to discuss her latest initiative “Al Tumayr” and what started off as a simple conversation ended up being a soulful talk not missing a lot of laughter and a couple of tears. Read below to learn about this amazing endeavour and the great souls behind it.
Mona decided to combine her much untapped gift for beauty and detail with an innate desire to do something for beloved Palestinian and thus Al Tumayr started taking shape and form. Partnering with designers to create jewelry and clothing that represent the Palestinian people, Mona is supporting the underprivileged Palestinian youth and is working on raising donations for charitable organisations that work on empowering their communities. Mona is currently partnering with Olive Kids, a Melbourne-based charity that works on empowering Palestinian youth in the fields of health and education.
First off let’s start with the name “Al Tumayr” as it holds such great significance. Al Tumayr is the Palestinian Sunbird which was on the brink of being stolen by the Israeli’s to be claimed as their own a few years back. The scientific name of the bird is Nectarinia Osea and it has blue, green, orange, black, and purple colors and was first sighted in Palestine in 1865. It was Mona’s daughter Haya who had fallen in love with her mother’s idea and did the required research and settled on Al Tumayr. Mona and Haya drew great inspiration from Al Tumayr bird that plays a vital role in preserving the ecosystem and spreading pollen much like Mona wants to spread love and joy to Palestinian youth. The Israeli campaign failed, their efforts to change the name of the bird to the Orange Bird fell through and the bird proudly remains purely and forever a Palestinian icon.
It all started by sheer coincidence and grew organically but with such speed and force that left Mona herself feeling grateful yet hugely overwhelmed. For those who know Mona, love her amazing sense of style and admire her eye for detail and it was because of such a gift that Mona became the informal fashion and accessory advisor of her friends and family. It all started upon one such occasion where Mona was giving jewelry advice to her niece Nour who lives in Australia and is actually on the board of Olive Kids. Nour wanted a rosary necklace that’s different from the rest. Mona was giving her niece ideas when she suddenly had the insight to add the map of Palestine with a vintage Palestinian coin to the necklace instead of the other traditional ideas in the market.
Mona followed through with the idea as she went in search for vintage coins and she found them at Souk Jara, next she went in search for a designer to execute the idea Mona had in mind. After some trial and error and due to her meticulous eye for detail Mona was finally able to locate a new and emerging jewelry designer in Beirut (Orchid Jewelry) who was able to give Mona what she wanted. In addition to Abu Iskandar here in Amman who Mona has worked with for over 10 years now for personal items and who has also started helping Mona with her endeavour.
While this initiative is still at its earliest stages, yet Al Tumayr has gained massive popularity due to the beautiful intricate designs Mona is creating, added to the fact that it’s all done for a great cause. Al Tumayr has three main designs – a map of Palestine, an interpretation of the historic Palestinian coin, and an intricate depiction of the sunbird. The pendants come in yellow, rose, or white gold, and can be customised according to customer needs. They can be adorned with ornamental beads, and customers can add diamonds to their pieces either by encircling the coin with diamonds or by adding a diamond dot or dots on the map of Palestine to signify the city or cities of their choice. Al Tumayr also includes a collection of delicate bracelets depicting again the map of Palestine and the sunbird.
The pendants were so exquisite that Mona started receiving orders for them before she had even come up with the name. What started as a 7-piece collection has sold now 79 pieces with the opportunity to order and customise your orders online. A new line for men is in the works based on popular demand and the men’s cufflinks depicting the historic coin will surely be quite the hit. Two brand-new items will be added to the collection by the end of this year and we can’t wait for the reveal.
A project with this much goodness for the world is bound to bring in so much more… Mona marvels at her good fortune and it is the smallest gestures that touched her the most. The models showcasing the collection; Iman and Sura refused payment and did the work for free…The beautiful logo was designed by Zain Nabulsi Haya’s former student, while the heart-wrenching poem below was written by one of Haya’s colleagues; Fadia Bazzi, specifically for Al Tumayr and it’s beautiful heart-breaking cause.