15 days, 10 versions: How Dubai-based artist created Google doodle honouring Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi

Artist Reem Al Mazrouei opens up about her art form and Nabati Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi



by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2022, 5:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Nov 2022, 8:24 PM

Google celebrated Emirati poet Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, or Ousha the Poet, and dedicated a doodle on Monday in her honour. One of the greatest Nabati poets of the 20th century, Al Suwaidi's doodle was aptly illustrated by another Emirati artist Reem Al Mazrouei.

Her doodle celebrates a Middle Eastern lady with her eyes closed next to a scroll creating intriguing imagery, almost a magical aurora.

Transforming Emirati poet Al Suwaidi into a quirky work of art with concrete symbolic meaning, the Dubai-based artist explains doodling gives a unique insight into her artistic style. But creating this doodle has been a challenging feat.

"A Google team member contacted me and asked if I would be interested in creating a doodle for them. They are the ones who chose the topic and conveyed it to me. Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi is an iconic figure in the Middle East who is a well know Nabati (Nabati poetry has been a feature of life in the Arabian peninsula since the 16th century).

Reem Al Mazrouei
Reem Al Mazrouei

"Although creating it took me around 15 days, but whenever I sent them (Google) the artwork, they would give me feedback and then I would go back and edit it. I prepared the draft around three concepts, and it took around ten versions.

"We wanted to ensure that the doodle and the elements represented effectively captured the essence of her poetry. Also, in terms of colours, we didn't want it to be too sad or dark. The idea was to represent tranquillity and peace when one sees it. Representing the Emirati culture and environment was also integral to the project along with the Google logo," says Mazrouei.

While Mazrouei’s art is inspired by Middle Eastern folklore, mythology and the future, she explains the doodle of the lady being celebrated, who was born into a family that loved literature and recognised her contribution to the field on this day.

“Al Suwaidi’s poems were inspired by nature-- Arabian Gulf and desert landscapes which touch on topics like love, wisdom, patriotism and nostalgia. They (the Google team) found my art style matches her spirit. They said your art is like poetry, and we couldn’t find someone more suitable to create this artwork for Ousha.”

While Ousha’s poems written in Nabati describe her personal experiences in the UAE and the country’s rich culture and past, Mazrouei explains that people travel far and wide just to get a glimpse of this famous personality.

“People back then wanted to visit and see her. She is also a very special person to my family. My mum always wanted to visit her. She ultimately met her.”

Elucidating on how the relationship between art, poetry and nature is largely formed with the concept that man's true self can be found in the wilderness, Mazrouei opines, "Poetry and art almost go hand in hand. I am like a child when I start drawing. I took up art professionally after university. I have a Bachelor's in visual arts from Zayed university and have since dedicated my time as a full-time artist. I never stopped drawing," says the UAE national, who has been a professional artist for a decade now.

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“When you are sad, happy or in love… you can express a myriad of emotions through both poetry and art. I think both these forms, help you to understand yourself better,” says the Emirati who was raised in the UAE capital but now spends her time living between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

As the nation gears up to celebrate the 51st National Day, Mazrouei reveals her upcoming plans for the D-day. She opines, “I am gradually being recognized for my work I’ve also always aimed to go global. So, for the National day I am working on something interesting. TWC – the Swiss brand of watches contacted me to do live drawing for them.”

Talking about the new wave in different art forms and how consistent popularity of varied styles has changed the face of world art that outlives their owners, she says, “even gadgets can be used to create art. People in the past believed that there is no future for people pursuing art… especially the older generation. But now it’s our time. The thinking has changed. There are lots of job opportunities both locally and globally in such related fields. Express yourself and be original. If you love something… just do it and believe in yourself.”


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