Models – Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf 2018

Models - Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf 2018


Paul Kiefer

Fashion Model

With the local world of advertising and fashion heavily dominated by Western and Arabic models, Paul Kiefer is one of those rare talents that represent the Filipino; and represent well he has.  Having graced countless buildings, billboards, runways, and magazines across the Emirates and the rest of the world, his is one of the most recognizable premium faces in the country.  Paul elaborates on identity and representation: “Never feel you are under someone or don’t have the power to achieve what others do. We are all people, and it’s not about where you are from or what you have, but how far you are willing to go to achieve what you want to achieve.”.

“So many new things happened this year. I’m always learning more and more about myself and the world we live in through my travels as a model and from new experiences.”.

Besides modeling, Paul has further expanded his career exploring a separate avenue in the industry – photography. Devoting more time behind the camera these days, Paul considers photography to be a profound passion he was just waiting to immerse himself in. Just recently, Esquire Magazine featured his work – a coup he considers to be one of his great achievements.


Dimitri Tolenaars

Fashion Model

A Dutch boy with both Filipino and Spanish blood, who was raised in Belgium, model Dimitri Tolenaars proves that today’s Filipinos are the picture of ethnic diversity. With an equally diverse portfolio, ranging from commercial campaigns to luxury fashion editorials for the likes of Michael Cinco, Dimitri recently graced the pages of the first editions of GQ Middle East (modeling for Bottega Veneta), and Vogue Man Arabia.

The world of fashion and modeling is ever-changing and rapidly evolving. For a young model like Dimitri, it is this very uncertainty that drives him to be the best version of himself. “Since I’m not one hundred percent sure about my plans, I hope to be the best I can be in whatever I decide to undertake. It all starts with yourself. Be confident. Looking up to other people is fine as long as you don’t look down on you. After that, it’s not just advancing as Filipino people, but as human beings in general.”


Benedickte Gammelgaard

Fashion Model

Danish-Filipina beauty, Benedickte Gammelgaard has been modeling since the age of twelve. Now twenty-four, her career in the industry has been blessed with both local and significant international gigs. Benedickte has modeled for several illustrious beauty brands – Huda Beauty, Makeup Forever, Loréal PH – she has graced the pages of publications from around the world – Harper’s Bazaar, ID Magazine, Preview PH, Illustrado Magazine – and has as well walked for Michael Cinco, Ezra Santos, MSFTS, American Eagle Outfitters, and more.

A multi-talented artist that specializes in graphic design, who also has a passion for music, one parallel challenge Benedickte has encountered on several fronts of her life concerns self-acceptance. She shares: “I think my main challenge, to this day, is believing I was never good enough. Something a lot of girls and boys struggle with, especially in this industry. There have been times where I have refused to sing on stage and refused jobs I thought I was incapable of doing. However, the sooner I accepted who I was, the sooner I could work, and the more I would be able to achieve.”

Benedickte finds inspiration in the values and culture of the Filipino people. “It’s almost difficult for me to give advice when I can look up to almost every Filipino I know. Their determination and perseverance in anything they do is admirable and is something I try to learn from always.”.



Fara Manalo

Fashion Model

Roberto Cavalli, Hermès, Bvlgari. These are just a few of the prominent luxury brands model Fara Manalo has walked for. She has also appeared in numerous commercial campaigns for brands like Emirates, Samsung, and Atlantis Hotel. With Illustrado serving as her first ever magazine cover, Fara to this day dons her culture and ethnicity with pride:  “To be amongst the few Filipino models here in Dubai, I am proud to wave the Philippine flag till the end.”

While modeling as a profession is notoriously considered to be quite demanding, Fara’s unbending optimism has helped her remain a cut above the rest: “My advice to Filipinos, or anyone for that matter, would be to sincerely believe in yourself and be confident when you are working to the best of your abilities. I feel that if everyone lived their lives genuinely and with passion, anything can be achieved.”




Special thanks to our sponsors: Emirates Airline, Stars n Bars La Mer, Liali, Instax – Grandstores UAE, Dusit Thani Dubai, Gver – Your Friendly Marketplace for Sharing, Meeting Dancewear , MPQ, CMG, Filbrit, and our partners Rozen Antonio Photography,  Alex Callueng Photography, Jef Anog Photography, and Ethereal Photography.


Browse the digital issue of Illustrado 100 Most Influential Filipinos of the Gulf 2018