Raised in suburban Tennessee and Massachusetts, Huda Kattan is of Iraqi descent and studied finance at the University of Michigan-Dearborn before she moved to Dubai, where she would set up shop and become one of the most popular beauty bloggers in the Arab world.
In 2010, Kattan launched her blog, Huda Beauty (Huda means “guidance” in Arabic), and was one of the first Dubai bloggers to focus solely on beauty. “I knew once I started, my obsession with beauty was so strong, it would really spread,” she says. On Instagram, Kattan has an astounding 10.4 million followers. By comparison, Michelle Phan, one of the biggest U.S. beauty bloggers, has two million followers.
“The main reason beauty bloggers in the Middle East have a strong influence over their followers is due to cultural reasons,” says Lionel Durand, CEO of Black/Up. “The Internet gives them an opportunity to emerge and engage with a female audience.”