Beyond Henna… a peek inside this beautiful art with Sabah Ismail

I’ve always been attracted to Henna as an art form. As a creative person myself and after meeting this talented women the first time for her love of writing, it was clear to me I had to delve in deeper to her life as a beautiful artist. 

After a short conversation she agreed to show me her work and create some wonderful artwork on my skin. As I interviewed her I couldn’t help but notice the passion, excitement and emotional connection she had to the work she was doing. This was an amazing experience not just physically but on an emotional level too. You can read all about Henna and our time together below;

When did you first realise you were so creative? Has is been since childhood?

I’ve always been a creative person, have been doing arts and crafts and writing poetry since I was a small child. I guess it’s not really something I ever realised, it was just something that’s always been a part of me.


How did you end up getting into Henna? 

Growing up in a Pakistani household, it was always something that was done for weddings and special occasions. Back in the day, we used to mix up a pot of henna paste with water and use a cocktail stick to apply it! I remember being fascinated by it as a child. I’ve always done it, since way back then!

For events in high school from the age of 11, I used to have a little stall and I’d do it for friends around school. Then some school friends used to come to my house around Eid time (Eid is the Islamic celebration after Ramadan, the month of fasting, and for ladies, applying henna is part of the celebrations) and pay me to do it! Now I think back, that blows my mind that I already kind of had a little business back then, aged 12/13.


How did you start your business in Manchester. Was it successful? 

I only actually started doing henna professionally from the age of around 20. For me, the idea came when I was at uni in Liverpool when I was applying it on some friends who told me I should take it more seriously. I moved back to Manchester that summer and decided to make a proper go of it. I started off by doing small charity events and slowly, business grew through word of mouth and I got busier and busier. Yes, I would say it was pretty successful. Due to other commitments, I never really put as much into it as I wanted to but yeah, it did well.


You’re a very creative and open person. Have you always been this way or did something inspire you? 

I’m a deeply sensitive person and I always have been. I feel everything so very deeply and this is from where my creativity flows. In regards to being open, again I always have been, usually expressing how I feel about things through words. That explains why I’m now also a blogger, writer and journalist!


What’s the largest design you’ve done and how long did it take? 

The largest design I’ve done was a large back henna piece for a client of mine who was a bride, and was going somewhere beautiful for her honeymoon and wanted to show it off! However, she didn’t want anyone in her family to know she was having it done so we had to lock the door and I had to clamber all around her on the bed. Interesting experience!

What is the most emotional piece you’ve done and why? 

This would have to be my first ever ‘henna crown’ that I did for a lovely lady who I am now proud to call my friend, Cherrill. Cherrill was battling cancer at the time and had lost all her hair through chemotherapy. Fate brought us together as she contacted me due to a post I had put out on my Facebook page, letting everyone know that I offered free henna crowns for anyone suffering from cancer.

Anyway, a few months after speaking, she came up to Manchester for her henna crown session and it was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences of my entire henna career. As I applied henna to her scalp, we connected through so much more than just henna – I can’t really explain it. I know she loved the experience too – she even kept the paste on for three days to get the optimum colour! 


What henna products do you use and why?

I use only fresh, natural, home-made henna paste that I got from a wonderful henna artist called Henna Visa back when I was in the UK. My supplies here are now dwindling so the plan is to start making my own very soon!

There are misconceptions about henna that I would like to clear up. Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘black henna’ or ’emergency henna’ – these things are filled with harmful chemicals including PPD, which can cause severe allergic reactions and can even be contributing factors in early death. I only use 100% natural henna because that’s how henna should be! It’s such a beautiful art form that goes beyond just the skin, and to use something filled with chemicals and to call that henna completely goes against that. I use natural henna because it’s safe and because it leaves the most beautiful stain with the correct aftercare. And it smells gorgeous!


Are you doing a lot of Henna now here in Mauritius? 

No, not at the moment. I had a baby in December and have a three-year-old son too so life is pretty busy. I’m also trying to find my way in the market here as what people are willing to pay for henna here is no where near what I would charge in the UK. I guess I’m still currently trying to find my way here.

I am taking orders for my henna inspired artwork and products though, which Mauritian people seem to really love. 

What is the meaning of Henna do you know how it originated? 

Henna is centuries old! It was used in Egypt and India as a temporary body art form for religious ceremonies, weddings and simple body adornment. The henna plant grows in tropical climates like Africa, Southern Australia and South Asia. It even grows right here in Mauritius – we have a henna plant growing in our garden!


What is your most favourite piece you’ve done? 

It would definitely have to be the henna crown. Not because it was my best work, because it really wasn’t – it was my first time doing a henna crown after all. But because of everything it stood for and meant to me and my client. Henna for me is more than just henna. It’s about connecting with people, helping people, inspiring people and spreading love, light and peace. That’s why I use the hashtag #hennaforhumanity because I truly believe it is something that can unite people, despite any differences. 


You also do a lot of Henna on books, stones and other materials. How did this start and where can we find these wonderful gifts?

This started back in 2013 as a bit of an experiment when I tried painting henna designs on candles and then it kind of just took off! I use acrylic paint for my henna inspired artwork, which is applied through a cone in the same way that henna is. I absolutely love creating this artwork – especially the wedding guest books which I get asked to do quite frequently.


You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as @beyondhenna. My website is currently under construction along with an online shop, but if you keep up to date with me on social media, I’ll be sure to announce when these are live! 


Thank you Sabah! You can find all of Sabah’s beautiful work and get in touch with her below;

FacebookSabah Ismail – Art & Thoughts

InstagramBeyond Henna

Today I was a mermaid

Today I tasted freedom. Freedom of a different kind. I was part of the ocean and that ocean and I created a bond. It took me and held me gently. It showed me a beautiful aray of life below land. It made me loose all the fear I ever had of its depths before. It calmed my mind and gave me confidence. It exhilarated me and gave me tears. It’s life was so beautiful to me that my eyes couldn’t help but glaze over. The ocean became my friend today. It gave me fins and helped me to breathe. It showed me something I’d never seen before. Today and the first day of my life I was a fish. Time stood still. The ocean gave me silence. It gave me life. Today I was a mermaid. 

My old friends. Depression & Anxiety

For a friend I love. She’s in the dark. She’s struggling to see the right, the light and the sun. She doesn’t know she’s in the dark. Her words are sometimes toxic. The reply of the message without realising the meaning. She’s depressed. Her worry is far from anything to worry about. My past helps me react to this because she is my dear friend and she is me in 7 years. I was her 7 years before. I was her 5 years before. I was still her 2 years before. I am not her now. But every time I talk with her I feel the pain. I feel the struggle and the Ultimate distress caused from the constant anxiety that doesn’t leave the brain or heart or stomach. I feel as though I am watching myself. I give words of wisdom I’m only so thankful to be able to give now. But when you are in that place. That dark place. It’s hard to escape. You feel as though you’re being held hostage by the moon for he is only showing you night and he won’t let you see the sun. You forgot what the sun is. You can’t see the stars that are trying to guide you because the darkness has filled your mind. They look warped and evil. You forgot how to act or how to be yourself because the moon has kept you tied up. But the moonlight makes us feel like how we are being is ok to ignore. It makes us think that no one can see the screaming which is trying to force its way out of our bodies. It’s our safe place. Heaven forbid if we tried to see the sun, if we tried to see the light it would without doubt be snatched from us almost instantly because that’s the world right? That’s the dark world. That’s the world of. Depression. Anxiety. I will save this time. I will use these memories to help draw her into the light. And little by little she will stay a little longer. And each time she stays that second longer she will start to enjoy it. She will trust it. She will yearn for it. Until eventually she will grab my hand and let me keep her there. And she will then be free and her life will be beautiful because she stopped letting the darkness twist her mind. She will bloom into the stunning flower she already was. My friend. And she will take her wisdom and without knowing will pass it on to yet another of whom is stuck in the dark. 

Daydreaming

There is just something so heart warming about the thought of being inside those 4 walls snuggled up in a blanket on the sofa with a hot cup of tea, whilst outside the wind is howling, the cold is biting every part of nature and causing red noses. 

I can feel the warmth from the fire which is surrounding the room with a tropical heatwave. My bed socks fluffy and colourful hugging my toes as they curl up ready for rest. An oversized soft blanket wrapped around me more times than it’s meant for. 

The steam rising from my hot cup of English tea, the mug acting as a hand warmer to my always. cold fingers. The lights are dimmed. I’m imagining myself becoming a mould into a large fabric extremely comfy sofa with tonnes of cushions. I love cushions. 

Candles are burning giving an ambiance of relaxation and a scent of lavender bringing more calmness to a blissful moment. The tea slips down my throat with ease the sugar hitting my taste buds causing a dance in my mouth. The warmth sliding it’s way down creating an inner heat for my body. 

In that simple moment I am happy. 

If you do one thing today… save a life 

“My Paradise Island from Hell”

one vet and animal lover commented on a post as she explained her experiences here in Mauritius. 

“I will never come here on holiday again but I will always come back to help!”

Again some sad realities from seeing the problems and suffering of animals here. Just a small island with the potential of the government to HELP sterilise and create a better life yet THEY DO NOT. They create a story… one that says the tourists dislike the dogs and cats… the hotels love to jump in on this lie. They couldn’t be further from the truth. MSAW which is meant to be the government funded animals welfare society frequently catches and kills the animals. Something of which has just last month ONLY now been made illegal. YET… it’s still happening. The truth is the tourists see animals as wonderful caring creatures. There have been a massive amount of tourists who have taken a mauritian dog back home with them and they’re now living the life ALL dogs deserve. They don’t mind and they definitely would not agree with the killing of animals which is happening. Some hotels poisoning these poor souls or taking them somewhere else to die…

Recently I have spent some time with Second Chance Animal Rescue. Every day they dedicate their life to feeding and cleaning their strays and fosters… to then traveling all over the island saving cats and dogs from a horrible death. They have animals waiting to be fostered and are urging for help! They ask for only Rs100 per month which is only £2.20! But any donation small or large will help considerably so that they can continue to do their amazing work! To continue to dedicate all their time and efforts to caring for helpless animals across the island. 

Me with a sick dog on the coastline! Mecine given and food for strength!

I return to England later this month after some changes which has urged me to return however in some sense I feel relieved but the other pains me to know I’ll be one less animal lover in the country and unable to continue my work there. I would really like to organised fund raisers when I’m home to help fund the charity so they can continue and to help create a shelter at their home as currently they don’t have all the necessary things or money. I would appreciate if anyone reading this blog post did one thing today…

Donate any of the following;

  • Newspaper
  • Towels/Blankets
  • Dog and Cat food
  • Frontline
  • Medicine – I.e Eye drops and other over counter medicine
  • Kennels
  • Beds
  • Become a member and donate a small amount per month please complete a member form by clicking HERE
  • Donate a one off payment via PayPal here – paypal.me/scarmu
  • Make an international transfer – Mauritius Commercial Bank Second Chance Animal Rescue Account No: 000 444 206 221 IBAN: MU71MCBL0944000444206221000MUR SWIFT: MCBLMUMU

If you would like to donate and send to Mauritius or if you would love to save a life and adopt from Mauritius please get in touch! Help us save as many souls as we can!

Mystic Mauritius in Photos 

If you love beautiful photos and interesting videos then you’ll love this! Enjoy ‘Mystic Mauritius’ a Facebook page and website designed to showcase the unique animals, plants and landscapes in ways they’ve never been seen before. 

Here are just a few snaps of their wonderful work!

The Mascarene Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone bourbonnensis) is known for its enchanting song, and eats a number of insects including beatles, moths, and dragonflies.

Crystal clear water laps at the sculpted rock near Ile aux Benitiers with the Morne in the distance…

The setting sun slips into the sea behind the iconic Ilot Benitiers rock in the southwest of Mauritius…

A White-tailed Tropicbird soars overhead. Species of seabirds such as these brought some of the first plant seeds to Mauritius, sequestered in their plumage…

Rocky outcrops litter the summit ridge of Round Island where a lofty view of Serpent Island awaits us…

Curvaceous canyons and sculptures are carved from the compacted volcanic ash of Round Island over time…

An endangered Hawksbill Turtle comes in for a closer view in the pass between Ile Plate and Ilot Gabriel…

The setting sun peaks out behind the cliffs of Flat Island on its way into the Indian Ocean…

The sparkling green Echo Parakeet nests high up in the native trees of the Black River Gorges…

The epic Chamarel Falls cascades down over different layers of volcanic rock…

Light falls upon forested slopes of the southeast…

The lava flows drop directly into the ocean at the reefless coast by Albion and Pointe aux Caves. Battering waves, weathering, and the hands of time have carved magnificent arches and sea caves into the volcanic rock.

One Eye peers out from its high perch on Le Morne mountain…


Wind rakes over a tide pool on Ilot Gabriel as the sun rises to the right of Serpent and Round Island…

All beautiful photos and captions courtesy of Mystic Mauritius

Nightlife in Mauritius (An insiders guide)

An insider’s guide to the bars and nightclubs in Mauritius, including the best clubs, beach bars and live music.

As most people tend to stay and party within the resorts, the main place on the island with life after dark is Grand Baie. Nightlife on the island is getting more hip at hotels, and there are some great bars and clubs if you know where to find them. Our recommendations take in a few key hotspots island wide, from cool beach parties with international DJs spinning the decks to dancing, live music and jam sessions, and top sports bars to spots for a sundowner.

Banana Beach Club 

The Banana has been “the place” on the island for a night out, beloved of both tourists and locals for over 20 years. The bar surrounds a towering flamboyant tree and is a good place to try a local Phoenix or Blue Marlin beer, or choose from a few international cocktails while listening to nightly live music. Upstairs, Zanzibar Nightclub, re-opened following refurbishment at the end of 2016, has DJs on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. There’s a decently priced grill, if you want to make an evening of it.

Address: Coastal Road, Grand Baie, North Mauritius 

Contact: 00 230 263 0326; bananabeachclub.com

Prices: phoenix beer MUR125 (£2.80); cocktail MUR250 (£5.66).

Opening times: Mon-Sat 10am-til late; Sun 6pm until late

C Beach Club 


The first beach club on the island, the C Beach Club attracts a mix of locals and tourists to its Sunday brunch held on the first Sunday of every month with occasional International DJs from Europe.

The Chill lounge bar, beside a pretty white sand cove, is a good spot for a cocktail and has a nightclub with resident DJ at weekends.

Address: Domaine de Bel Ombre

Contact: 00 230 622 1174; cbeachclub.mu

Prices: cocktails MUR350 (£7.85), glass of wine MUR300 (£6.73)

Opening times: daily 10am-11pm. Dinner 7-11pm. Dinner reservations essential

Big Willy’s


There were no other nightspots in Tamarin when this beer, steak and sports bar opened. It’s still the best place for live sporting coverage (daily on three screens – including two large outdoor screens) and has reasonable prices. The pleasant garden has umbrellas over tables on the sand and a boardwalk with trees prettily lit at night. It has an extensive pub-style menu, a ladies night with DJ and karaoke on Wednesdays and live music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights (when the crowd tends to be older) in its tropical garden. Although it is two minutes from the coast, there are no sea views.

Address: La Barachois, Tamarin Bay, West Mauritius 

Contact: 00 230 483 7400/5422 2990; bigwillys.mu

Prices: phoenix beer MUR110-130 (£2.46-2.90); Chamarel rum cocktails; MUR160 (£3.58)

Opening times: Tues-Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm; Sat-Sun 6-11pm; Mon closed

Lakaz Cascavelle



The long black marble bar at this slick, European-style pub with a creole heart between the sea and sugar cane fields is a good place to meet locals. It has a VIP lounge with vibrant orange sofas and smokers are accommodated at outdoor tables under umbrellas on the sand. Live music from local artists and DJs, and a covered dance floor, means it’s heaving on Wednesdays and at weekends, but with bar rather than nightclub prices, a drink here won’t burn a hole in your pocket. It also serves surprisingly good Mauritian food, including tapas.

Address: Cascavelle Shopping Mall, Royal Road, Flic en Flac, West Mauritius

Contact: 00 230 452 9200; lakaz.mu

Prices: phoenix beer MUR145-245 (£3.27-5.54); cocktails MUR200 (£4.52)

Opening times Tues, Thurs, Sun 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10pm-late

Lambic 

A “blind love of beer” led to the opening of this impressively stocked after work gastropub in a 19th-century colonial house in Mauritius’s capital, where locals and expats in the know chill out in the bar-restaurant or under ancient mango trees in the garden. It boasts around 30 beers mainly from Belgium, sold in the glass walled shop, including Belgian Trappist beer, Tequila-flavoured French beer and Mauritian craft beer, The Flying Dodo (flyingdodo.com) on draught from the island’s only microbrewery. It also serves beer-battered fish and chips in newspaper, and specialities are game with beer-based sauces. 
Address: 4, St Georges St, Port Louis, North Mauritius.

Contact: 00 230 212 6011; lambic.mu

Prices: beers from MUR115 (£2.60).

Opening times: Mon-Thur 9.30am until 9pm. Fri 9.30am-10pm; Sat 1-9pm.

The Beach House



The aptly-named Beach House, right on the water in Grand Baie is the perfect spot for a sundowner. It’s also got a wide-ranging menu at reasonable prices from burgers to vodka-flamed steak, and fish dishes to salads. Owned by ex-South African rugby player, Kabous Van der Westhuisen, it can get pretty rowdy at weekends.

Address: Royal Road, Grand Baie, North Mauritius.

Contact: 00 230 263 2599/00 230 5719 6670; thebeachhouse.mu

Prices: beers from MUR115 (£2.60)

Opening times: Tues-Sun 11am until late

Moustache Bistro

Its Movember year round at this Tamarin bistro and wine shop, where the cab of a moustache-clad Vintage Bedford truck at the entrance, hints at the kookiness within. In a tiny traditional Creole house with wooden beams, it pairs gourmet wines by the glass or bottle (MUR200 corkage) – guided by a sommelier in the well-stocked wine shop – with delicious modern tapas, in elegant but eccentric surrounds. Farmhouse-style wooden tables lie under chandeliers made from upside-down wine bottles, and photographs of celebrities – from Mahatma Ghandi to David Beckham – with moustaches stuck on their faces, line the walls. A favourite main is Chamarel chicken, spiced with cloves and cinnamon, and there’s a small walled patio with comfy chairs and coffee tables, to sup outside.

Address: Royal Road, La Mivoie, Tamarin, West Mauritius.

Contact: 00 230 483 7728; moustache.blackriver@gmail.com

Prices: Wines from MUR200-250 (£4.46-5.58); tapas from MUR175 (£3.90).

Opening times: Dinner only Tues-Sat 5pm-11pm; Happy Hour with half price tapas and wine 6-7pm.

So get yourself out and about after hours and make sure you enjoy these hidden nightlife gems of Mauritius!

Source – Telegraph Newspaper