History, creativity and charity come together in Abu Dhabi

History, creativity and charity come together in Abu Dhabi

Mirbad, a not for profit organisation, organises traditional souq Al Hambra Affair with a modernised and vibrant twist during Ramadan.

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

Published: Sat 20 Jun 2015, 2:03 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:16 PM

Artworks displayed at the event. -Supplied photos

Abu Dhabi - Three young emirati girls have come together to recreate a traditional souq, but with a modernised and vibrant twist during the holy month of Ramadan.

 Maitha Al Mehairbi, Maitha and Noura Al Foulati — are the founding members of Mirbad, a not for profit organisation.

“We want to capture the spirit of it. The approachability, the sound, the chatter, the tea and coffee sellers,” Maitha Al Mehairbi, co-founder explained. She stressed that the charity event — ‘Al Hambra Affair’ — will have the essence and the spirit of an ancient souq.

Mirbad’s “Al Hambra Affair,” that began at 9.30pm Friday, under the patronage of Shaikha Fatma bint Hazza Al Nahyan, will continue till Saturday at Park Hyatt hotel in Saadyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

Mirbad originates from an ancient celebrated public place in Al Basra, a southern city in Iraq. The area was widely known for its role in the economic and social life. Despite the fact that the lively town was ambiguously situated outside the metropolitan area, the place was nevertheless recognised as the social hub that brought people from all walks of life together. Whether they were merchants, artists, writers, socialists or thinkers, they were united in Al Mirbad.

Noura, a co-founder of Mirbad, tells Khaleej Times that the idea of retelling the ancient history is what inspired the creation of this year’s event. “The name itself is derived from a historic souq, and this — in a nutshell — is what we are.”

“Back in the days people would come together, merchants would sell, poets would exchange poetry, and this is basically our concept, to gather talent from around the region in one single space,” explains Noura.

However, the idea of combing the social and shopping scene with charity is what makes this modernised Mirbad evermore so unique in the UAE’s capital.

The founders urge the community to bear in mind those in need during the holy month.

“In every corner of the UAE, you are reminded to give to the needy,” says co-founder Maitha Al Foulati.  “Our country does a lot to help the needy, therefore I feel that the idea of giving should be carried forward,” she added.

 Mirbad’s founders previously began with two successful events in 2013 and 2014, that raised over Dhs 200,000 for Tarahum Foundation, which focuses on struggling residents of the UAE.

 With the vast amount of participants coming to the nation’s capital from all over the region, offering to sell their goods and services, from lavish textiles and clothing, to opulent jewels and craftsmanship, Mirbad hopes to raise even more awareness this year for Fatima Bint Hazza Cultural Foundation.

Al Foulati emphasises on the fact that those who sell their goods are doing it for a noble cause. “We provide businesses free space to sell their goods and ask for a minimum of 20% of their sales at the end of the day,” she says.

The charity event not only aims to give to those in need, but participants will also feel rewarded, Al Foulati points out. “The participants and shoppers know that the money is going to help those who are less fortunate,” she said.

Charity is not the only core essence, but the element of supporting local and international talent is also a fundamental theme. “At the end of the day we feel amazing having supported local and international talents,” said Al Foulati. “Providing a platform for upcoming designers is also what motivated the creation of Mirbad,” she elucidates.

 This year’s event will be the first time where international businesses, artists and designers are joined together. Nonetheless, creativity also remains a key component. “We want to support established artists who may not be very well known in the region,” Noura said.

“We also want to make sure that the participants are passionate and create products which are unique and truly made with love,” she highlighted.

 “Mirbad is not just an exhibition,” says Noura.  “If anything, we want to create a majlis for people to come, share ideas, inspirational stories, fashion, and above all, remember to help those in need, especially during the Holy month of Ramadan.” 

 “We want to create a great awareness in helping others,” says   Al Foulati, adding that, “this is something that we were taught. If our grandparents had five dirhams they would give four away,” she added.

The visions of generosity, giving and taking care of others is something which resembles UAE’s young history, furthermore, the idea of patience reflects on the meaning of Ramadan and that is something Mirbad is hoping to achieve through charity, explains Al Foulati. “This is the generosity we inherited from Baba (Shaikh) Zayed, and this is what we hope to pass down from one generation to the next.”


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