4 months, working 20 hours a day: Indian artist expresses admiration for Dubai Ruler

The word art piece features the words 'Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum' written over 200,000 times

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sat 30 Jul 2022, 7:38 AM

Last updated: Sat 30 Jul 2022, 10:24 PM

After working long hours, sometimes even 20 hours a day, for 4 months, Neha Fathima completed her word art portrait of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The record-holding Indian artist worked diligently, overcoming all hurdles, so that she could finish her artwork before July 15, as a gift to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on his birthday.

The 21-year-old, hailing from the southern Indian state of Kerala, has now come to the city for the first time in the hopes of handing it over to the ruler himself.

Inspired by a quote

“We, in the UAE, have no such word as ‘impossible’; it does not exist in our lexicon. Such a word is used by the lazy and the weak, who fear challenges and progress.”

This quote by Sheikh Mohammed influenced Fathima throughout her life. It was also the single biggest driving factor of this piece of art.

Measuring a massive 4x4, the portrait has the words Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum written over 200,000 times repeatedly on over 400 chart papers to form the image of the ruler of Dubai.

“It was hard work,” admitted Fathima. “Some days my hands were bloody and swollen. But I stuck a bandage and continued on without any rest. I was inspired by the words of His Highness that nothing is impossible.”

Sleeping just 3-4 hours a day, Fathima skipped two exams and all other social activities during the entire time she worked on this portrait. “I really wanted to make something special for him,” she said.

“He has taken Dubai to the top of the world in every aspect. If you ask me who is the most inspirational ruler in the world, I will say it is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. I am completely in awe of him.”

The artist

This isn’t the first time that Fathima has made a word art portrait of a famous personality. The CA-aspirant earlier made a word art portrait for Indian actor Kamal Hassan and set 5 records for her attempt. She holds three additional records as well in Indian, Asian and international record books. She was appreciated by the actor himself for her efforts.

She has also made a word art of the Indian actor Mohanlal. Neha Fathima has also previously done a leaf carving of the rulers of the seven emirates.

Always artistically inclined, Fathima refined her passion for drawing during the Covid lockdown. After dabbling with sketching, pencil carving and leaf carving before settling on word art.

“What attracted me the most to it was the level of patience required,” she said. “In everything else, you draw and outline and then start from there. However, in word art you can’t predict the final product until you finish working. It is challenging and also exhilarating.”

Fathima credits her family and her husband for their support. “There are a lot of people who tried to dissuade me from doing this,” she said. “Many people made fun of me when I said I wanted to meet His Highness. However, once I set my mind on something, I do not quit. My parents always support me, no matter how improbable it seems. Now my husband, Finu, is also the same. I consider myself blessed.”

Finu Shan, who married Neha two months ago, has taken time off his workplace to come to Dubai to realize his new bride’s dream. “She is extremely talented, and I am proud of her,” he said. “If she fails to meet the Sheikh this time, I know that she will come back with an even bigger project.”


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