Mary Habib takes MOJEH on a tour of her charming, art-filled home – a cool, calm and welcoming space that pays homage to the Egyptian artists she treasures
The first thing you notice when you enter the home of Mary Habib is an eclectic array of incredible art. As she and her husband Bishoy are passionate art collectors and patrons of Art D’Égypte, an organisation promoting modern and contemporary Egyptian art, it’s hardly surprising. Mary’s involvement in Egyptian art started a couple of years ago, when she and Bishoy felt a responsibility to support artists from the region. They’re currently working together on curating a one-of-a-kind collection that provides a holistic representation of Egyptian art of all eras and disciplines for Cairo’s biggest art show.
Back in Dubai, where Mary has been living for the last 13 years, one of her biggest passions is her beautiful four-bedroom home. Situated on The Palm Jumeirah, she resides in this calming and luxurious space with her husband, their two children and golden retriever Ace. “I’ve been living here ever since I got married and moved from Cairo to Dubai, and my home is my happy place,” she tells MOJEH. “We renovated about four years ago, and I wake up every day feeling grateful and blessed to be living in this special place. It has the most beautiful energy.”
With a modern-meets-contemporary style, Mary’s abode is awash with bright, light hues and an earthy colour palette, with touches of blue, pink and green. “My favourite room is the living room, as it feels both cosy and bright all at the same time,” she explains. “What I love even more is that it opens out to a beautiful green wall that gives a very natural vibe akin to a raw jungle.” The same light and airy vibe continues throughout her children’s shared bedroom along with a playroom and library. “I have two boys aged 11 and nine, and from the beginning I wanted them to share everything,” says Mary. “I designed their room in grey and blue, while their playroom is a bright, beautiful, colourful space where they spend most of their day playing and studying.”
Mary’s pride and joy – alongside her two children, of course – is the art collection adorning her walls, built up over the years by Mary and Bishoy themselves. “I love to collect authentic Egyptian pieces as I feel proud of my origins, and I feel I have a duty to show the people around me how great our culture is,” she explains. “At home our focus is on modern and contemporary Egyptian art. Each piece has its own story, of course, but I do have some personal favourites. Effat Nagy is a very special, talented female artist, and her work always integrates different interesting materials. She was recognised in the ’60s, when women didn’t have a strong presence in the art world. Another is Mohamed Abla, a contemporary artist whose pieces reflect the soul of the Egyptian street. He is known for his abstract scenes in Egypt, and I own a very beautiful painting depicting the pyramids and the crowded streets in central Cairo at night, with the beautiful lights reflected on the Nile.” Sculptures and ornaments also play a key part in Mary’s interiors, with her most treasured piece by Egyptian artist Caroline Berzi, created from melted water bottles painted in bright, vivid hues. She’s also got her eye on a sculpture by Ahmed Askalany, which utilises traditional Egyptian materials that “reflect his native, authentic roots in a contemporary context.”
Sentimental value shines through in spades throughout Mary’s home, which is scattered with pieces discovered at antique shops on her travels. “I try to get a small piece for the house from a local shop in every country I visit,” she says. “I love owning special pieces for my house.” Elsewhere you’ll find a drawer filled with precious memories, including gifts, letters, pictures and hair from her children’s first haircuts, amongst other treasured keepsakes. “I always go back to this drawer, because it brings back amazing memories, fills my heart with joy, and puts a big smile on my face,” says Mary Habib.
Looking to the future, Mary still sees a lot of nature in her life, with her dream home overlooking the sea in Orange County, California. “The sea is my therapy,” she concludes. “That’s mine and my husband’s retirement plan, to live in OC with an open sea view house.” And that most certainly sounds like the dream to us.
- Words by Naomi Chadderton
- Styling by Sophia Serin
- Photographed by Ausra Osipaviciute