Meet Natasha Amar, the blogger behind The Boho Chica. Her parents are originally from India but she was born and raised in the UAE. She has been a resident expat in Dubai for most of her life.
Natasha used to have a corporate job in the Finance industry but switched careers and is now a professional travel blogger, freelance writer, and content creator. As you read through her blog, you will notice that she writes insightful stories, detailed accounts of her trips, as well as comprehensive guides and tips.
Having been a blogger back in 2011 and before Instagram became huge as it is now, Natasha discusses the distinction between being a blogger and an Instagrammer with both requiring different skills to achieve goals. She advocates the idea of creating stories instead of focusing on ourselves when publishing content.
Natasha also aims to help people to travel better by experiencing places on a deeper level and go beyond tour packages. Some of the tips she encourages is to talk to locals, go to off-the-beaten paths, immerse into local culture, and to travel responsibly. She also recommends women to learn to travel solo.
UAE Blogger Interview: Natasha of TheBohoChica.com
In our feature, Natasha talks how she is able to travel and fund her trips. She also shares her favourite places and restaurants in the UAE . Lastly, she gives important tips to aspiring bloggers on the importance of creating stories instead of excessively focusing on ourselves. Great stuff so check out the rest of our interview below:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an Indian born and raised in Dubai, a classic third-culture kid who calls Dubai home and has spent most of her life in the city. I’m a professional blogger, freelance writer and content creator focused on telling travel stories the best I can.
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2. Can you tell our readers more about your blog and how it started?
I started my blog TheBohoChica.com in 2011 strictly as a hobby, and the desire was the same that it is now, but perhaps a bit simpler. I was new to travel and as someone who did not grow up traveling, rich or adventurous, I wanted to share stories about what it’s like to travel solo and put yourself in situations that you cannot even imagine as someone who has never done that before. I wanted others like me, who didn’t have a privileged passport or lots of money or people to go with to feel like if I could travel, so could they. Remember this was before Instagram made travel look easy and before travel apps like Skyscanner and Booking were being used on smartphones widely at least in this part of the world.
Today, the goal has evolved to help people travel more meaningfully, to go beyond tour packages and experience places on a deeper level, have some insightful cultural immersion, talk to locals, travel off-the-beaten-path and travel responsibly. I also want to encourage women to travel solo because god knows that if we keep waiting for other people to have the time, we will never go. Plus, solo travel, especially for women, is incredibly empowering.
3. How do you support/fund your trips?
While many of my trips now are for work – so they’re sponsored or paid for the tourism boards, DMOs, agencies that I’m working with, I still fund a majority of my trips from my own pocket.
4. What are your top places to visit/attractions in the UAE?
Everyone knows the main attractions in Dubai, so I’ll talk about a few lesser-known sights.
In good weather, I recommend visitors to go kayaking in Hatta – it’s beautiful and there’s a whole lot of other fun stuff such as hiking and mountain biking to do there now.
If you like museums, then The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is a must- not only is it interesting on the inside, the architecture itself is worth seeing. Other than the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, I recommend visitors to also go to the Al Ain Oasis, Green Mubazzarah and Jebel Hafeet.
Speaking of museums, Sharjah is a must-visit for museum-lovers- from the Museum of Islamic Civilization to the Sharjah Museum of Art, and the Rain Room, Sharjah has something for everyone. Al Noor Island is like an oasis in the middle of the city, and I recommend a quick stop here.
You’ll notice a theme in my recommendations – I love nature and landscapes.
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5. What are the top restaurants that you recommend in the UAE?
For Emirati food, I recommend visiting Al Fanar. For comfort food Dubai style, I recommend Aroos Damascus.
How can I miss the homegrown Salt at La Mer or Kite Beach for sliders? It’s the perfect cheat-day meal.
6. What are some of your most successful blog posts or the posts that you are most proud of and what are they about?
I love it when my posts successfully help break stereotypes or tell people something new – whether that’s a place they did not know about, some aspect of the destination they were not aware of, or something that helps change preconceived notions. This Taiwan guide was much appreciated by readers who were curious about the destination, as was this piece on Bohemian Switzerland that I recommend to every nature-lover visiting Prague. This piece about the ridiculous comments I get while traveling solo as a married woman always starts, mostly healthy, debates.
7. What is the most common misconception you’ve gotten from others about blogging?
Given the way new media is evolving, there are plenty of misconceptions with terms being used loosely and exchangeably when they should not. For one, an instagrammer is not a blogger. They’re two different types of content creators with completely different skill sets – with their content achieving completely different goals, and hosted on different platforms. In my eyes, a blog is a lot more work than just the creative or marketing bit, as bloggers like me who manage the technical parts of their blogs learn new not-so-fun skills every day.
Two, a lot of people sadly want to get into blogging now or are already in it for the sole purpose of fame or getting freebies. That leads to the misconception that this is what all bloggers want, and if you ask those of us who started way back before bloggers were celebrities, more like when we were nerds who wrote on the internet, you’ll realize that this is not true.
Another misconception is that I get everything for free. Outside of assignments, I don’t go about asking for or accepting free meals, free products or any of that, and I would never ever work with a brand to get a freebie. All the brands I work with are relevant to my audience and niche.
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8. Name some of the bloggers/personalities whom you look up to and why?
I tend to follow mostly adventure travel bloggers, Nomadasaurus, Lost With Purpose and The Crowded Planet are among my favorites. The one thing they all have in common is that amazing ability, so rare in our times, to make the stories about the world rather than focus on themselves all the time. They’re storytellers, not celebrities and that is what I like about them.
9. What tips can you share to aspiring bloggers in the UAE?
In my opinion the content created by any content creator or blogger who excessively focuses on themselves has an expiration date. So they might have quick fame and popularity but they will also quickly lose that to the next creator who comes along and is more entertaining or viral. On the other hand, if you’re motivated by the need to tell a story or solve a problem, then you’re likely to be more successful. But of course, success means different things to different people, so what do I know? 😉
10. Do you have anything you’d like to share about you and your blog?
I love helping people travel better, that is the biggest motivation behind all my work, whether that’s on my own blog or while freelancing for clients. I would love for people to feel confident about planning their own trips, of being able to travel on a budget and even with limited time, of just getting out there and seeing for themselves that the world is an amazing place and people everywhere are good and kind. In addition to my blog, I share stories on my Instagram and Facebook page.
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*Images provided by Natasha