#BMWLUXURY: Dubai Gallerist Sunny Rahbar on What She Reads on the Road

To celebrate the launch of the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance, we discuss travel essentials with Sunny Rahbar.

Image: Ken Schluchtmann

The BMW Concept X7 iPerformance is the Bavarian car marque’s most luxurious concept SUV yet – with a spacious, ultra-networked interior melding with a top-of-top-end engine. This concept vehicle is a natural design evolution for BMW, whose brand is synonymous with power, luxury and travel — and its intersection: art. As such, they support art’s most direct of travel, providing the fleets of black cars that shuttle the art industry’s VIPs around fairs from Frieze to TEFAF to Art Basel to Sleek’s local Art Berlin.

To celebrate the presentation of the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance, we conducted backseat interviews with five international blue-chip collectors. The car itself is best described as an elevated SUV – taking the dimensions, proportions and propulsion of the ultimate power vehicle, and teaming it with a driving experience fit for 2018 and beyond, with a hybrid engine providing seamless integration of plug-in energy. Even more strikingly, the interior has been remade to provide ultimate space and ultimate luxury, with the two front seats placed on foot-friendly pivots, and screens and LEDs lights adding even more interior excellence. It’s the perfect place to catch up on reading while on the road, so we asked five influential figures to divulge their travel luxuries, and the books they took with them. Reading material courtesy of the collectors, backseat courtesy of the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance.

For Dubai-based gallerist Sunny Rahbar, founder and director of the city’s groundbreaking The Third Line gallery, travel is a constant fact of life. Having run the gallery for 11 years, she’s on the move pretty much constantly, whether it’s touring the world’s art fairs and biennales, meeting clients and collectors and constantly making studio visits, from Tehran to New York. How does such a veteran of the road like to travel? We caught up with Sunny in the midst of her frantic schedule — following her gallery’s appearance in Frieze in London, she’d been to the States for a museum show, and now returned to oversee The Third Line’s participation in the Abu Dhabi art fair. When we talked with her, she was in the car heading to the airport to jet off to Zanzibar. So, what keeps her sane on these journeys? Sunny tells us all.

Left: Image by Ken Schluchtmann; Right: Sunny Rahbar at The Third Line. Image courtesy of Mohamed Somji and Alserkal Avenue

What book are you reading on the road at the moment? What can you tell us about it?
I’m reading “On Love and Loneliness” by Jiddu Krishnamurti at the moment. He’s someone I discovered recently — I was in a bookshop in New York, I think, checking out the philosophy section and I found a book by Krishnamurti called “Beyond Fear”. I find him fascinating — he died in the 1980s, he was a very evolved being and from a young age, he was interested in spirituality and the human condition. He had incredible insights into humanity and life and how we live. So I read “Beyond Fear” and then I found this new one, the one I am carrying at the moment. What I love about it is that you can open it up at any point and start reading – every chapter is like a question. They are so beautifully simple, it’s like a reading something and going – aha! That makes sense! The deeply profound questions we all have about life.

Do you prefer actual books, or are you a Kindle fan?

No, I never got into the Kindle or iPad for books. I’m old-school. When I fly internationally, they always have a television. But recently, I was flying domestically in the States and there are no televisions, and I looked around at all the other passengers, and they have these really cool big-screen iPads, and they have all their TV shows on it and I was thinking, mmm, I’d like one of those…

Image- Ken Schluchtmann

What about magazines — are there any glossies in the back seat with you?

I usually end up watching a movie if I don’t read books. I can’t sleep – I can never really sleep whilst I’m travelling. I’ll watch movies or documentaries. But if I pick up a magazine, it’ll be Monocle, The Economist, Time, or Vanity Fair. I love Monocle, it’s full of interesting little bits, it’s so diverse. And it’s a great magazine for on the go. I also love Conde Nast Traveler — it’s so full of great travel ideas. When you travel as much as I do, it’s so nice to look at these places and dream about your next holiday!

What’s your favourite news source?

Instagram. I find these days, I can look at Instagram and immediately see what’s going on and then, go and read more online. I find so much news and information comes up fast on Instagram and I can follow big stories that way. Like, the recent events in Barcelona or in the US, I first saw on Instagram and then I went online, checked out news sites, and read up more.

What do you need to experience a smooth ride?

A good night of rest the night before, that’s absolutely essential. No partying, no late nights – these days I make sure I get a flight at a reasonable time when I can, I don’t like red eyes and arriving at crazy times. I like to get to the airport in time, make sure I can have a coffee or a drink beforehand and not be stressed. There’s nothing worse than being hungover and having to catch an early flight!

Left: photo from “Everything Must Go” Image: courtesy of The Third Line Gallery Right: Sunny Rahbar at The Third Line. Image courtesy of Mohamed Somji and Alserkal Avenue

Apart from the essentials like passport, ticket etc, what objects do you always take with you on the road?

I only ever have my handbag with just the essentials in it. A notebook, a bottle of water, vitamins, tissues, lip balm, something to eat if I’m stuck somewhere.

What’s your biggest travel luxury?

Being alone for hours and to be able to think. I actually really value some time alone. When you are constantly surrounded by people and always on the go, it can be hard to get some time to think, reflect and come up with ideas. So, for me travel is a perfect opportunity to switch off and enjoy that, it’s a real luxury. No one can reach you, you don’t have to do anything – it feels so good!

For more information on the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance, click here. 

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