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From Kota Kinabalu to London: A Taste of Malaysian Heritage Shared Online


From Kota Kinabalu to London: A Taste of Malaysian Heritage Shared Online

01 February 2024

From Kota Kinabalu to London: A Taste of Malaysian Heritage Shared Online

Proud of her Bornean culture and heritage, Hidayah Iwani Kamal paved her way through growing up in Kota Kinabalu to navigating adulthood in London. Her academic journey began at the University of Manchester, where she read law. After which, she completed Bar school and is a member of The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn.  

Now based in London for close to three years, she specialises in legal technology at a City Law firm with a focus on GenAI and LegalTech solutions . “A newer division compared to traditional law,” she explains.


Growing up in Borneo  

Having parents in academia played a significant role in her upbringing. “From a young age, they would be like ok, you go to school and then to uni and this is how life in uni would be,” she smiles as she recalls.   

They champion awareness for education inequality and bridging social mobility. Seeing their commitment to the cause sparked her interest to move abroad. Her goal was to learn as much as possible and bringing home that wealth of knowledge.  

Hidayah’s experience in primary and secondary school was an interesting one. She shares that despite living in the city, the education inequality was severe. “Although my school was a relatively good school, we didn’t have a computer lab, a field or access to internet, for example.”   

Speaking on the wealth gap in East Malaysia, “You’ll see kids walking for long hours to go to school in really heartbreaking conditions,”. Not having enough resources meant that students could not dream big, “When things are very limited, your imagination is also limited.” Aware of this, she was determined that her peers should also have access to the same knowledge she had.   

Securing a corporate scholarship connected her to Malaysian scholars alike. Many of which were from Kuala Lumpur. She realised how different her world was in comparison after hearing stories about their time at elite boarding schools or international schools. Teachers guided them from the get-go on how to plan for university life abroad – something she and her peers did not experience.


When the world of food and technology collide  

Back in her final year of university, she created HidayahCooks. This food-focused Instagram account is where she shares recipes of Malaysian dishes like Udang Masak Kicap, Lontong and Karipap Sardin. “I think this happens to everyone, but when you crave a lot more Malaysian food, you become a bit more experimental,” she says.   

She also reviews places to eat in Manchester that are affordable for students. She shares that first-year students who were new to the city used to message her on Instagram – “When I want to go out to treat myself, I will check your page”.  

This passion project allowed her to collaborate as a content creator with a banking app. The app allows users to earn points through spending and then redeeming them at restaurants. A true Malaysian at heart, she chose Roti King, a Malaysian restaurant in London, to spend those points. In her Instagram Reel, she featured local dishes such as their Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng, Roti Canai and Kangkung Belacan. 

Her content surrounds halal and halal-friendly restaurants in the city. She shares that her posts proved to be helpful to those travelling to London. “I’ve gotten a couple of messages from Malaysians saying that during their trip to London, because they’re not familiar with the city, they found my page useful,” Hidayah adds.  

It means a great deal to her that she spreads the goodness of Malaysian food with her audience.


For the love of Malaysia  

The saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” rings true to Hidayah as she finds herself becoming more patriotic since being abroad. “I really want to put Malaysia on the map especially in a professional setting when you’re the only Malaysian woman.”   

Referring to Dr. Amalina Bakri as a good example of a successful Malaysian abroad who continues to give back to Malaysia even from a distance, “I think something that really shifted my mentality was that you don’t need to be based home physically. With the technology that’s available, you can already start giving back to society back home now.”  

Hidayah is eager to use the MyHeart platform to explore ways to contribute to the nation from the UK, and to connect with other Malaysian talents abroad.  

If you wish to connect with Hidayah and be part of a global Malaysian community, sign up here to get started.