Archives for category: women artists

I find this book pretty haunting because of Noora’s gender contraints, arranged marriage, lack of choices due to her family’s lack of money and influence, and in the end her choice. Perhaps it deserves five stars and I am judging it on my reaction to the characters choices in the plot rather than on the writing itself.

In Noora’s childhood in the rural area Musandam penisula of Oman nothing was easy for her family financially but she had quite a lot of freedom to be herself up to the point where her father has become mentally ill and her brother becomes head of the family. There were some very interesting pieces here, the visits from the matchmaker, advice from her mother, local people’s understanding of madness, etc. Noora is deeply loved by a young man who she can’t marry, something that many women can relate to, the lost soul mate.  At one point she and her brother go to inquire to a witch/healer about their father’s health.  I found that an especially interesting scene.  From here everything quickly changes for Noora and she is sent off to live as the third wife to a middle age man.   The person in the household who becomes most like a friend to her is a slave girl.  Here in that family she comes to understand deception, power, family politics, and grows up quickly.   The ending for me shows how far she has come in just two years.

The descriptions of landscape and character portrayals are rich here.

Last year I vacationed in Dubai and it was interesting to see how life was quite different in the city but some things are the same like the Abra rides on Dubai creek and the souks surrounding that area. I visited the historic house, the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House and with that I could easily imagine the sort of big, traditional house with windtowers and many rooms where the pearl merchant of the story lives.  The social life of even the 1950s feels remote to the amazing modern city with tanilizingly beautiful skyscrapers and flower gardens everywhere.

This is an important book and I am glad that Maha Gargash wrote it and that my friend recommended it to me.  As a cultural insider Ms. Gargash is a perfect guide on the journey that is the plot of this novel.

Please share your book recommendations for other books that are similiar to this.

The Sand Fish: A Novel from Dubai

By: Sue Braunschweig

I have been watching the developments in Art in the Middle East and specifically Saudi Arabia by internet.

I remember the  day that I received my  first carpet clearly.  My now ex-husband and I were in a big and beautiful showroom in Istanbul and carpets were being flung open one on top of the next in a dizzying burst of color and pattern.   Truth be told  Jason  said that they only reason he bought me a carpet in Istanbul was because I had such a migraine. I guess he felt sorry for me. Thank God for that migraine!  I proudly carried that heavy bundle home on the plane though I was sure my arm was going to become completely disjointed from my shoulder.

In later trips to Morocco, my interest in handcrafted arts and crafts  grew as I was explosed the souks and walked into shop after shop of colorful lamps, pillows, leather goods, hexagonal wood tables with intricately painted designs, Tuareg jewelry and of course carpets.

When I was planning my trip first and only trip to Cairo, Egypt in January 2010 I had read in my trusty Thomas Cook and National Geographic guidebooks that The Museum of Islamic Art was scheduled to reopen  by the end of 2009.   They had already been renovating since 2003.  It was unfortunatley not reopened by the time of my trip.  That was a disappointment but I hope to visit it one day.

When researching my trip to Dubai last year I learned about  Art Dubai a huge international art fair held each March with participanting galleries from over thirty countries but again my dates didn’t work out. I did however buy three old Saudi bedouin silver rings from  a gallery in one of the malls.  More bedouin jewelry has since come my way by way of Ebay.

Those of you following this blog know I have a special interest in Saudi Arabia.  Since 2008  I have been following the news about the Edge of Arabia exhibit. The group of Saudi artists have exhibited in not only London, but also Berlin,Venice and Istanbul.   Just weeks ago they did  the “We have to talk” exhibit in Jeddah.

Most recently, just a day or two ago,  there was a one day exhibit of work by four female Saudi artists in Jeddah.   The exhibit was at the Hilton Hotel in Jeddah.

  • Hiyam Al-Khurdy is a Saudi artist whose work was inspired by ‘Makkah folklore and Islamic art”.  She paints in oil and uses a techique that makes them appear 3D.
  • Mariyam Sudayri paints on silk  and also exhibits  photography. In the arabnews.com article Sudayri reveals she is self taught.
  • Munira Abul Khail – painter
  • Wafa Hidaya – painter

Only one photo and some short descriptions of their art appeared in Arabnews.com.  I am interested to know  more about each woman. Here is a link to that article.  Please comment if you know of a book about Saudi women artist profiles or about their work, or can suggest artists or museums I should learn more about.

http://arabnews.com/lifestyle/offbeat/article623823.ece