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Expo 2020 Dubai: Meet the Pakistani artist who crafted the world's largest Quran

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Dubai - Shahid Rassam hopes to complete the project in the next five years


Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Sat 11 Sep 2021, 11:43 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Sep 2021, 9:37 AM

A Karachi resident — who lived in the UAE for 11 years — has found an innovative way to pay tribute to the country that he calls his home away from home.

As it turns out, when faith embraces artistic excellence, believers get a sneak peek of an exquisite slice of creativity.

A gift to his adopted homeland

Shahid, who is Principal at the Arts Council Institute of Arts and Crafts in Karachi and an internationally renowned artist, is all praise for the wise and visionary leadership of the UAE.

"I've created a portrait of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group," Rassam reveals. "I have also done portraits of members of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

Islam’s global footprints

The Holy Quran is the sacred scripture of Islam, whose followers make up one-fifth of the global population of over seven billion.

Muslims believe the Scripture was revealed by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Makkah and Madinah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 610 till 632 of the Common Era.

A lasting legacy

Shahid hopes that his labour of love will withstand the test of time. The Holy Quran has been inscribed on a high-quality canvas with aluminium and gold-plated letters, as compared to the conventional methods of paper, cloth and animal skin.

The talented artist believes that his work has emulated that of the late Pakistani calligrapher and painter Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi, who is often referred to as Sadequain Naqqash.

FROM THE FINEST: A fragment of a ceiling mural painting by Pakistani abstract calligrapher and artist Sadequain at Frere Hall Karachi Pakistan

Living up to the challenge

Creative challenges have always failed to faze Rassam. "I love to take up challenges. I chalked out a plan and initiated the project five years ago,” he says.

“My work is a combination of canvas, metals, and colours, which will pleasantly surprise all the visitors to Expo 2020,” he adds.

A professional par excellence

Shahid is a selfless professional and is loathe to take any credit for the brilliant idea, whose time has come for the world to admire. He is all praise for his friend Irfan Mustafa, who planted the novel idea in his mind.

“Irfan convinced me to share a part of my work at Expo 2020 to ensure that it’d be acknowledged by the 200-plus exhibition participants as well as visitors from all over the world," he says.

“He pulled out all stops to help me realise the challenging task, and voluntarily joined the project only for the love of the Holy Quran, art and me," he signs off.

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