What does a modern Emirati woman of the twenty-first century look like? Does she look like a car mechanic fixing up vehicles for the royalty? Or an astronaut shooting off for the stars? Does she look like the country’s first female Minister of State for Advanced Sciences? Or does she look like a modest fashion mogul? The Emirati woman of today could look a lot like all these women, and more.
In light of the recent success enjoyed by women in the region, across various fields, the theme for the sixth Emirati Women’s Day, which is just around the corner, celebrates “Women: Ambitions & Inspiration for Next 50 Years,” as announced by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, earlier this year.
To celebrate the spirit of Emirati Women’s Day taking place on August 28, an Emirati female artist has partnered up with Deliveroo to celebrate this year’s theme, capturing the unlimited potential of Emirati women to fearlessly realise their goals and aspirations.
Maryam Alzaabi, 31, is a graduate of architecture and urban design, whose unique artwork has been translated into limited edition tote bags for the food delivery app. Alzaabi’s artwork for Emirati Women’s Day lauds women who have pushed the boundaries and unabashedly gone after their dreams with resilience, occupying a variety of roles in the country, such as teachers, astronauts, chefs, business leaders. “I wanted to create a piece with Emirati women coming together to look forward to their futures with excitement and confidence,” says the Emirati artist.
Drawing inspiration for her artwork from female Emirati leaders, the artist mentions, “What these [women] have done for the country is remarkable. Their actions have opened doors for other women in the UAE to venture into new career paths.” Alzaabi’s unique illustration is a celebration of all the women in the country who are able to freely dream of pursuing their aspirations.
“So many Emirati women are branching into new professions and I felt this Emirati Women’s Day was the perfect time to unveil this artwork,” says the Emirati artist, acknowledging how Deliveroo’s door-to-door reach in the country will allow the message of Emirati Women’s Day reach far and wide in all directions through this artistic collaboration. “My collaboration with Deliveroo is a great example of allowing me a chance to interpret the theme of this special occasion through my art that I hope everyone associated with the UAE will be proud to carry,” Alzaabi added.
The Emirati artist, also known as @fixthesky on Instagram, creates artwork with a quirky edge and a cultural blend of Eastern and Western sensibilities. “I often find myself curious and questioning the concepts of individuality, identity, aspirations and the human purpose. It allows me to create artwork that sparks a feeling within the people consuming it,” says the artist.
Drawing inspiration from her mother as a child and from music, pop culture, fashion, comic books, and fellow artists from the local community as a young adult, Alzaabi’s artwork evokes emotions drawn from experiences in her own life, breaking free from the traditional styles of art the Middle East has usually been known to produce.
“Everyone’s thought process and reason to create art differs from one another. I think people often stereotype or pigeonhole art that is produced from the Middle East as a specific type of art that stands against western art. The argument of East versus West means one must be compared to the other, which feels counterproductive to me since both stand individually on their own and draw from personal experience and inspiration.”
The 31-year-old artist enjoys a sense of unspoken yet empowering rebellion her art expresses, with her Instagram illustrations reflecting contemporary — sometimes edgy — elements of the modern society. “I don’t think I’ve intentionally stepped away from whatever is perceived as “stereotypical”, I just believe that my sources of inspiration can differ from other people,” says Alzaabi.
Speaking of her recent creative collaboration, the artist believes there are endless possibilities in the region “to provide the right spaces and platforms for artists across different art disciplines to showcase what they have to say, beyond what we’re used to seeing usually.”
The Emirati artist thrives on creating portrait illustrations with new, experimental styles, using watercolours, ink and digital drawing as her choice of media. “I often find myself wondering about identity ... in order to understand my own actions and emotions,” Alzaabi says, pointing to her quest to explore notions of individuality, especially in the Middle Eastern context, through her experimental style of expression.
When asked what according to her constructs the identity of the Emirati woman of today — and the future — the artist says, “To me, the Emirati woman of today is simply infinite. In her possibilities, in her drive, in her work, and in her aspirations,” Alzaabi signed off.
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