Why is this interesting? The Monday media diet with Tariq Khayyat

On architecture, the power of design in our lives, and living between two cities

Tariq Khayyat (TK) is a Dubai-based friend who always takes me to cool spots in the city, most recently Comptoir 102 which was amazing. He’s a super talented architect working on projects in the Middle East and China. Prior to starting his own firm, he worked closely with the late Zaha Hadid. Here, he gives us a glimpse into his media habits and personal rituals. Enjoy and have a great week. - Colin (CJN)

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Tariq Khayyat, an architect, designer, lecturer with an unconditional love towards travelling and coffee, always curious and interested in fashion, music and history. I run a high-end boutique design studio in Dubai, spent half of my life in London and the second half in the Middle East.

Describe your media diet. 

I try my best to keep it balanced. I keep my early morning “media free”. More into music that early time of the day.

During the day I skim through The Guardian, FT, NYT and the local media where I’m that day, any interesting news or article I save to read at night when the day is less hectic. Strangely enough I don’t do much Twitter. IG is also a very quick source of information as most of the giant media names are starting to use this platform more in their posts and stories. Although I’m a very visual person I don’t watch TV usually, so my news source is mainly audio or reading.

I'm a big fan of podcasts, I consider them as my main info intake, the beauty of them is the flexibility you can have while listening; home, driving, gym, anywhere. By nature, I’m a multitasker so audio info channels are aligned with my lifestyle. I have many favorites such as:  Fiasco, The Daily, 99% invisible, and the usual such as the BBC.

What’s the last great book you read?

Hello World by Alice Rawsthon, it’s one of the very few books that manages to successfully emphasize the power of design in our lives beyond what we all know. It digs deep into how art power can be used and abused, how art could be as powerful as other major factors in our life (politics, economy, etc).

What are you reading now?

I’m in between books (see above) but I am waiting for Intimations by Zadie Smith to come out in Dubai. I think 2020 COVID-era reading should somehow include direct commentary on the chaos we live in: Smith has written a light yet comprehensive series of essays about what we lived and are living over the last few months; the lockdown, the experience, and where this is taking us.

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

I need to establish the mood to dive in the book, the first few pages are extremely sensitive, I need to be fully engaged by the start to make it fully enjoyable. I often skip the intros and go directly to the first chapter, if the intro is not well-written it might make the book challenging to enjoy.

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

I don’t have a favorite writer, it depends on the reading nature (politics, novel, bio, etc). As long as the writing is fluid, balanced, and well-structured then this is my recipe for a favorite writer.

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

Spotted by Locals, it’s a simple app tailored for my picky character, wherever I travel I avoid “popular” places and tourist spots. I like to go where locals go, it’s the only way to embrace the local experience and enjoy the city.  It's a cool app where suggestions of places came from the local and neighbors in each area. I hope it remains a non-famous app!

Plane or train?

Depends on destination, train quality and journey length. In general, I prefer trains more within Europe, it gives a fantastic chance to chill, read, enjoy the scenery, and avoid airport headaches.

What is one place everyone should visit? 

The one city which made me travel back in time is Granada, Spain. Time stands still there and every corner is a snapshot of history. It has all the required ingredients for a magical place; the breathtaking architecture, the nature, the narrow streets, and the chilled local.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

You mean holeS. This happens quite often, it could be a song, piece of music, youtube video, or an out of the blue topic, one interesting article or movie could lead me to books, research to fully dive in the hole. The more exciting the subject the bigger the hole is :)