Meet the Dubai artist who designed today's Google Doodle

Nora Zeid, celebrates Sudanese–Libyan poet, playwright, and diplomat Muhammad al-Fayturi



by

A Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 1:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 1:32 PM

Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Dubai-based artist Nora Zeid, celebrates Sudanese–Libyan poet, playwright, and diplomat Muhammad al-Fayturi.

Muhammad Muftah Rajab al-Fayturi was born on this day in 1936 in Al-Geneina, a town on the western border of Sudan, to a Libyan father and Egyptian mother. At three -years old, he moved to Egypt, where he spent the remainder of his childhood. He went on to study literature and the sciences at university and found work as an editor for Egyptian and Sudanese newspapers following graduation. He would've been 85-years-old today (November 24).

In 1956, al-Fayturi published his first collection of poems entitled “Songs of Africa,” which explored the impacts of colonialism on the collective African identity and encouraged his readers to embrace their continent’s cultural roots.

Nora Zeid
Nora Zeid

The Dubai-based artist Nora Zeid, said, “I enjoy nudging people's perception of the status quo through my illustrations. Neocolonialist ideas have a great impact on how we perceive ourselves and our environment in Egypt and the region as a whole. Challenging such ideas, as Muhammad al-Fayturi did, is a must, which is why this topic was very meaningful to me.”

Al-Fayturi’s work breathed new life into contemporary Arabic literature with a fusion of mystic philosophy, African culture, and a call for a future free from oppression.

Zeid said, “My thoughts were a mix of excitement and worry. Excitement because I was eager to create a Doodle honouring al-Fayturi. It's a dream project to be quite honest. Worry because I questioned whether or not I could do al-Fayturi's work justice through my illustration.”

She added, “His poetry tackles topics of racism and colonialism in the region, which are still relevant today. So, it was very important for me that I do his work justice.”

For this particular Doodle, Zeid drew inspiration from al-Fayturi's poem ‘Sorrows of the Black City, translated by Anna Murison from Poetry Translation Centre.

"And yet, on the streets of the city,

when night constructs

its barriers of black stone — they stretch out their hands,

in silence, to the balconies of the future.

[...]

Look, there they are,

heads slumped in silence. And you think they are calm.

But you're wrong. Truth is, they're on fire…."

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“It really struck a chord with me. Al-Fayturi's poetry is extremely descriptive and vivid. The bustling market scene reflects that. Additionally, I sensed it was sombre while still inspiring hope, hence the mix of emotion etched on his face,” explained Zeid.

She also said that the topics al-Fayturi tackles in his body of work are still very relevant today. “Which is why I hope this Doodle motivates people to read more about him and his work,” she added.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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