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Freelance Writer and Illustrator


Contracted by the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center to provide website support and graphic design services

Christabel Lobo is a freelance writer, journalist, and illustrator, and works as a contractor for Ohia Technology Group LLC, which handles the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center’s website. Currently based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Christabel has known Ohia Technology’s owner Wendy Awai-Dakroub since she was 10. The two met when Wendy and Christabel’s mother were colleagues in Dubai, and the pair formed a strong bond that has carried on till today.

Although she was born and raised in Dubai, Christabel’s parents are from India, but moved to the Middle East in the ’70s for work. She identifies as a “third culture kid,” a term that refers to someone who grew up in a different culture from where their parents were originally from. Christabel graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a degree in Animal Sciences and then interned on the East Coast, before moving back to the UAE. It was then that she began working for Wendy in 2015, helping to design, write, and edit a blog about her family’s travel and food adventures, which sparked her interest in being a creative. When Wendy started Ohia Technology in 2019, Christabel joined the team.

“I was supposed to go to vet school, but I found I enjoyed writing and being creative,” Christabel explained. “I also illustrate and design. I like a balance of the two and being creative in different ways.”

Christabel’s passion for creativity has led to an extensive career as a food and travel writer with bylines in Lonely Planet, TIME, Insider, Marriott Bonvoy, AllRecipes, Southern Living, Healthline, and more. It’s also allowed her to divide her time between, India, the UAE, and Washington, D.C. She believes that her upbringing also sets her apart from others in the industry. “Growing up in the UAE and Middle East in general, I grew up around a lot of culture,” she said, noting that the UAE is a place of hyper growth in a short period of time. “I was exposed to different cuisines from a very young age, and it piqued my curiosity to try new things. It helps me connect with my sources on so many different levels.”

One of her favorite pieces to write was an as-told-to story of Chef Jocelyn, who owned the now-closed Burmese restaurant Thamee in Washington, D.C. Christabel recalled how much she and the chef connected because of the Indian influence on Burmese food, and she was moved by the chef’s own story of leaving Burma (now Myanmar) with her family in the 1960s after the coup d’état.

As a woman and person of color, Christabel consistently strives for diversity in her stories and sources. “It’s AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Month now, and in the world of writing, editors are often only interested in AAPI-related stories during this time, but those stories deserve to be told all year round; not just during a particular month,” she said.

Christabel’s work can be found throughout the Center’s website, including the video resource library, certification counseling section, and Women’s Business Network. She enjoys learning about all that the Center’s clients are doing and having a small role in their successes.

Being the world traveler that she is, Christabel will be relocating to Portugal this year so that she can expand her explorations to Europe where she will be focusing on writing about wine and obtaining wine-tasting certifications.

To other women who are interested in writing and design, Christabel offers the following advice: “Take the leap. Use Google. I’m self-taught in writing, pitching, and web design. Find your community, especially as a freelancer. There are so many resources out there. I’m happy to help and pass along information that helped me get to where I am. There are great communities of women writers who will help you craft your pitches. All of my freelance jobs have come through Facebook and Twitter. If you have those, you can do anything.”

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