Q&A with a Muslim Influencer: Neollene A.

Updated: Mar 30

Our guest influencer for this issue of Battuta is Neollene A. ( neollene ), an architect by training who instead followed her passion for photography and travel.

Neollene, welcome! Please feel free to introduce yourself more to our readers.

I was an architect by training and currently a TV Director and Producer by passion. My interest in visual arts, films, and cinema has opened up many opportunities beyond what I initially envisioned. Besides my love for traveling and filmmaking, I have encountered several assignments that have sent me to explore various genres of videos in many parts of the world. My architectural background has helped me visualize arts, graphics, photos, and videos into cinematic experiences on screen.

‘‘I am trying my best to be honest in creating my art and what I post on social media’’

I’m passionate about living a very calm yet meaningful life. I aim to create content that is meaningful and to capture memories. I’ve been capturing the world for the past 12 years, and the curiosity and passion in me will always be loud while staying creative keeps me happy. Knowing new cultures and exploring new places are the things that I look forward to.

I have to confess. I had to put in more thought and read between the lines when preparing for this Q&A. You are a very private person, Neollene, yet you are a public figure and an influencer. How do you strike a balance between the two?

To be honest, I never see myself as an influencer or a public figure. I am trying my best to be honest in creating my art and what I post on social media. I consider myself an ordinary girl and normal human being who’s just doing creative things and sharing my expression, knowledge, and experience with the world. Being a private person by nature isn’t that difficult. I know I need to be more outgoing when it comes to work or show something only when it has a particular purpose. Otherwise, I think I’ll just be myself.

We at HalalTravels, believe travel begins with inspiration. What inspired and continues to inspire your love for travel and photo/videography?

I reckon what inspired me the most is my high level of curiosity, the urge to explore something new. I always believe that we can fulfill our dreams when working hard and believing in our abilities. I am a girl with a lot of dreams. I was raised by parents who believe in their daughter’s ability and support what I do in life. Growing up, I had to move from one place to another due to my father’s occupation that required shifting locations within a certain time period. I was brought up to believe that distance means nothing when you have purpose and good intentions in life. My passion for art, photography, and filmmaking has also inspired me to capture memories and places as I travel the world. Seeing the positive impact that I unintentionally created when I managed to capture them beautifully and how it could touch people’s hearts motivated me to create, shoot, edit, and share more. So I guess, as long as I am happy with what I do, and when the intention is pure, I will keep doing that.

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Einstein) What are your thoughts on this?

As a person who believes in hard work and dreams, we need both in life. If we see nothing as a miracle in life, we will work hard to achieve what we want in life, and after we work hard, we need fate or a miracle to bring us to where we would like to be.

"As a Muslim, setting an intention is paramount, followed by working hard and praying for it to work as we plan."

We only need a miracle or luck to happen after working hard and believing that God will help us achieve it.

Life is not measured by fame or money, but moments that take our breath away. Having visited over 40 countries, tell me of the places that have taken your breath away?

As a visual person who’s so into nature, I would say places that have taken my breath away are the picturesque and mountainous views that I spent with the person I love because those were the places that I managed to create fond memories at.

I couldn’t forget how astonishing it felt to drive along the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada, or to hike to the viewpoint of Mount Fitzroy in Argentina with my close friends and how breathtaking it felt to see the Sunset in between the ridge at the top of the mountains in the Dolomites, Italy with my mother. It was truly mesmerizing to see the northern lights dancing in the sky of Tromso, Norway, and Akureyri, Iceland. These are among the places where I would like to spend my time again with my loved ones.

Does your architectural background still make a comeback whenever you travel?

Most people might not know, my long studies in Architecture had brought me to many places during my early travel days. Architecture and filmmaking have always been my passion, but we can only choose one path to walk in life. I reckon the knowledge that I got from my architectural studies has helped me develop the love of sightseeing not only in nature but also in the cities. It encourages me to see, and study and criticize buildings in their architectural aspects more than other people who don’t have any background in architecture. Architectural studies have helped me recognize the certain style and history of buildings and helped me compose my photography and videography even better.

“It’s about how we see things but from a slightly different perspective.”

I know Poetry is very close to your heart, and I had to mention the poem that you captioned during your trip to Turkey. How do you relate to these words and poetry in general?

Kalp deniz, The heart is the sea,

Dil kiyidir, The tongue is the shore,

Denizde ne varsa, Whatever is in the sea,

Kiyiya o vurur. Is what is found on the shore.

( Rumi )

Whatever we utter from our mouth comes from the condition of the heart. This highlights how important it is to have a pure and gentle heart because then only good and kind words will come out of our mouths. I love how Rumi relates it with the sea, where we can see the sea is full of concurrent waves with varying magnitudes and amplitudes. And there are a lot of things living or dying beneath it. It is similar to the heart.

What kind of trips do you prefer? Plane trips or road trips and why? Are there any travel tips you would like to share with our readers? As a Hijabi, what have your travel experiences been like?

I think the best method of transportation will depend on the places that we would like to explore. Some are better to be experienced by car or road trips because by doing that, we could experience driving the scenic routes through the mountains, and rivers and lakes such as in Banff and Jasper National Park, or the scenic route in Arizona, or Arthur’s Pass in New Zealand, where we can stop by the road any time we want to take pictures or drop by any attraction places along the road. It will be nice to travel by train, such as taking a Trans-Siberian train to travel from Beijing to Moscow.

If there’s any tip I would like to share, always study the places you wish to go to ensure you get the best experience. Some of the parks or routes are closed in certain seasons, like in winter, and the closing time is different for each country. Study about the weather too, because it affects the activity you can do. For instance, if we travel far enough to Iceland in the hope of seeing the Aurora, studying the weather, KP index, and cloud movement would enhance the chances for us to see it. Always subscribe and look for airline promotions to significantly reduce the cost of traveling to a faraway country. Search for unique and picturesque places through social media using hashtags. You’ll be surprised to find a lot of beautiful places.

As a hijabi, I feel grateful for not having any bad experience other than a curious glare by strangers on the street or the train. Think positively about it, and continue to show good examples such as smiling and being kind and warm to anyone you meet, and you’ll be good.

You say, “Dare to dream!” You have dared by switching careers and visiting countries off the beaten path. Tell me whether there is more to this dream?

Always and will be more. There are still a lot of places that need to be discovered, and my actual dream is to direct my first feature film with my own original story. And my personal goals in life are to help as many people as possible with my arts, photos, videos, and writing, embrace kindness and make people feel loved and happy.

I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to our questions despite your busy schedule. Any final thoughts that you would like to share?

My last words to the readers will be; Life is a beautiful journey. Set a good intention, have a good heart, dare to dream and just do it. If we don’t believe in ourselves, no one will. Life changes the day you start doing it.



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