January 21, 2008 10:00 ET

Los Angeles-Based Designer Has Designs on Dubai

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 21, 2008) - Lebanese-born interior designer Lamia Maalouf is tapping into the building boom in Dubai. She traveled to the Emirate recently for meetings with key developers and is bidding on projects. The co-owner of MI Design in Sherman Oaks says, "All of Dubai is a job site." She quickly learned during her two-week trip, that life there is very fast paced and she calls the traffic situation, "chaotic." Fluent in Arabic and English, the 37-year-old is as comfortable doing business in Dubai as in Los Angeles. Maalouf says it is important to be sensitive to cultural differences when conducting business in the region. "Do your homework. Learn the acceptable business practices and remember to always play by their rules," Maalouf says.

Maalouf's career began in her native Lebanon where, at age 22, she was designing custom furniture in her own woodshop. A young woman running her own business in the patriarchal society was a rarity. Maalouf next set her sights on Paris where she opened a design firm and again met with critical and financial success. She moved to Southern California to continue her education and after graduating teamed with her brother, Sami, a structural engineer, and founded MI Design ( The firm's completed projects are spread throughout the United States, France and the Middle East. Maalouf is also bidding on projects in Libya and the Sudan. In February she is off to Senegal to complete a project for an official of The World Bank.

Maalouf says, "The global economy offers great opportunities for small business owners like me to grow our businesses rapidly and share our expertise with a world audience."

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