'Dubai is beautiful, it is secure, stable and safe'
Oliver Abi Rached enjoying sketching people
Dubai - Lebanese painter talks about life in Dubai
Oliver Abi Rached never considered leaving Lebanon, but when war broke out in 2006, he had no option.
The painter, who received his Master's from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, started off art as a hobby.
"Back in Lebanon, I sketched people in nightclubs when in their worst condition. My idea was to bring out their light amidst their dark state. This was my goal behind my art: to bring out the best in people," said Abi Rached.
He added that he followed the Dutch painter Rembrandt's style in his sharp use of contrast between light and dark.
"Darkness comes before light. Such sentiments give depth to me while painting," he noted.
While in his homeland Abi Rached painted for free, it all changed when he came to Dubai.
Currently a freelance painter, he sketches random people hanging out at Wafi Mall in the morning and Jumeirah's Reem Al Bawadi Restaurant at night.
"Dubai is business-oriented. You have to find a way to earn money to survive. In Lebanon, I had a family that supported me, but here, I am all on your own."
Working in shifts that last over 12 hours a day, Abi Rached is only trying to resolve his debts. Yet, the long working hours does not make him love the Dubai life any less.
"Dubai is beautiful. It is secure, stable and safe, which is all you need to have a good life," said Abi Rached while highlighting the difficulties he faced during Lebanon's war.
"I saw houses getting bombed and hospitals exploding. It was not a place I could build a healthy life in," he said.
His current work is determined by what he calls "the aura."
"Around every table, there is an aura. If it's a good one, I approach people and offer to draw. If it was not, I back off," he noted.
The freelancer said he dreams of establishing an academy that educates young artists or an exhibition that gathers "the right group of painters to produce unique work."
Does he miss Lebanon? "I miss the feeling of having a family and a sense of belonging, but I would not trade having a safe life."
"Now I have to take my life more seriously," Abi Rached laughed. "I'm happy with what I do, I like being my own boss."