Updated: Jan 8
‘shazaira’ Travel & Fashion
In the “Influencer Q&A” section of this issue, we feature Saira Arshad. She is essentially a nomad with her best friend being her passport. A quick look at Saira’s Instagram page is enough to get an idea about her contagious energy. Saira tells us about how traveling made her grow spiritually and how she became more appreciative of her surroundings. She also shares helpful tips for hijabi travelers on how to pack smart.
Join us to learn more about this incredible individual and how she works hard toward making a difference in the world to make it a better place for everyone.
Would you kindly share a little bit about yourself for Battuta readers? Who is Saira?
Hiya! My name is Saira Arshad; I go by ‘shazaira’ on Instagram! I am a Canadian expat who has been between Kuwait, Dubai, and Toronto for the past 6 years, I’m a self-proclaimed nomad who loves to travel and take a million pictures at once, sharing the things I love with the world!
“Traveling starts with inspiration” is one of our mottos. What inspires you to travel?
I travel to experience the realities of other people I share the world with. New sights, smells, and people inspire me to get up and go!
Your Instagram page is artistic, entertaining, elegant, and informative. As an influencer, how do you keep your 93.6K followers engaged?
Thank you! It’s never been a numbers game for me to be honest. I share what I genuinely love and enjoy, and if others love my loves and are interested in joining me on this journey of life, they’re more than welcome! It’s very easy to let the numbers consume you and begin to believe in this façade of social media being a complete representation of reality when it’s only a very small part of ones life being shared. I’m not too keen on getting warped into that mindset!
You have a strong emphasis on holism on your Instagram. You said “pay more attention to the details of your story and the way it’s unfolding. if you focus too much on the ending, you might miss out on the whole story". In this issue, we also talk about how traveling allows an individual to grow spiritually. How have your travels allowed you to grow spiritually?
They’ve made me slow down. To appreciate and pay attention to the small things; the conversations had with local tuktuk drivers, how finely the onions were chopped in my curry, or the sounds of crickets in the evening as I fall asleep. Traveling has opened my mind and my heart to the actual wonder and beauty of God’s creation and appreciate how in awe I am of it every time; both of it’s incredible beauty and in gratitude for being able to experience it. Not a leaf falls but that he knows it, and he’s given me the opportunity to be at this exact place at this exact moment of time! #mindblown #alhamdulillahalways
You are involved in several projects including #helpyateem. Any recommendations for our readers and other influencers as to how they can be an agent of change in making our World a better place?
I majored in International Development and started university with the intention of wanting to save the entire world lol. I had one professor whose words have always stuck with me; after crushing my dreams of saving the world with a ‘that’s impossible and never going to happen’, he reminded me that as a citizen of the world, each and every one of us has a global responsibility to do whatever we can in whichever capacity we can to help make the world a better place both for ourselves and the people with whom we share the world with. No matter how big or small, even the smallest act is impactful in ways we might not even know. My advice would be to never think any action isn’t good enough or going to matter in the long run; that’s not why you’re doing it. You’re doing it because it’s your moral obligation and simply the right thing to do.
As you were featured in a book titled “Modesty: A Fashion Paradox” and were featured in Vogue Arabia’s website as one of the forces behind the modest fashion movement, what are your Style Secrets? Any recommendations for fellow Hijabi travelers in terms of how to pack for their trip?
I’d definitely suggest outfit planning before you leave; this includes everything from top to bottom including shoes and accessories. This way you don’t pack unnecessary items, extra scarves, or 5 pair of different hoop earrings, hoping something will match while you’re away! This also ensures you wear everything you pack, and tends to leave you with extra space for some local shopping!
When things go back to normal and we start traveling again the way we used to, what destination is on top of your list? Where do you plan to travel first with your friend (AKA your passport :).
Omg anywhere and everywhere! I’ve got serious withdrawal of airports and traveling and sleeping on planes and I can’t wait to see the world again! Kenya, Bali, Paris, and Istanbul have been ones which keep coming up in conversation (and in my flight searches lol) so fingers crossed we’re headed someplace
Lastly, do you have any recommendations for Battuta readers on traveling during the pandemic?
Stay safe and travel responsibly! We’re each responsible for our own actions.
This was a delight, and thank you sincerely for taking the time to answer our questions.