UAE: This Yemeni expat can’t speak, but her art speaks loud and clear

Kawkab Mohsin's super-sized paintings catch eyes of visitors during National Day celebrations at Rashid Centre for People of Determination

By Husna Murad

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Kawkab Mohsin with her painting of Sheikh Mohammed.
Kawkab Mohsin with her painting of Sheikh Mohammed.

Published: Sat 2 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 2 Dec 2023, 7:55 AM

For 33-year-old Kawkab Mohsin from Yemen, rising above her disability was the most important thing in life. When her hearing impairment took away her ability to speak, she turned to art to show that nothing could hold her back. Her larger-than-life-sized paintings graced the halls of the Rashid Centre for People of Determination as it filled up with visitors during their grand 52nd National Day celebrations.

Kawkab lit up with a bright smile every time a spectator came by and stood in awe of her work. Ritu Chaturvedi, an art teacher at the Rashid Centre, acted as an interpreter for Kawkab as she spoke to Khaleej Times.

Paintings by Kawkab Mohsin on display at Rashid Centre for People of Determination.
Paintings by Kawkab Mohsin on display at Rashid Centre for People of Determination.

“She loves expressing through art,” said Chaturvedi. “She can't communicate verbally but she can talk through her art.”

Rashid Centre, founded in 1994, is one of the largest institutes in the country that provides education and therapy services to people with a variety of physical, learning, and sensory disabilities. In a room full of work done by their students, proudly displayed paintings and crafts stood as a testament to the centre’s aim of making a difference in the lives of students of determination.

Paintings of Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan by Kawkab Mohsin.
Paintings of Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan by Kawkab Mohsin.

Kawkab was a student at the Rashid Centre 14 years ago. Her innate talents were soon discovered and nurtured by the centre’s staff who encouraged their students to express themselves through art. Her paintings of UAE Rulers and Emirati astronauts Sultan AlNeyadi and Hazza Al Mansouri caught everyone’s eye at the Rashid Centre.

According to Chaturvedi, creative arts and crafts are often therapeutic for children with special needs, allowing them to communicate in ways that are best suited to them.

“Art gives them the platform to express themselves without any boundaries. There's no restriction, no limitation,” said Chaturvedi. “The sun could be purple and the river could be red. They can do anything that makes them happy.”

Ritu Chaturvedi and Kawkab Mohsin.
Ritu Chaturvedi and Kawkab Mohsin.

Today, Kawkab works as an art teacher assistant at the Rashid Centre, helping children with special needs gain the abilities and confidence that they need to navigate the world. Her art and passion for life stand as inspiration for everyone.

National Day Celebrations

The Rashid Centre for People of Determination held a grand celebration to mark the 52nd National Day of the UAE.

National Day celebrations at Rashid Centre.
National Day celebrations at Rashid Centre.

The Rashid Centre also held musical performances by their students of determination in honour of Union Day and the visionary leader His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

A special market to support local Emirati and Arab entrepreneurs was set up to showcase their businesses. From locally sourced honey and dates to handmade traditional dresses and jewellery, the market was filled with excited shoppers.

Eight-year-old Marriam displays herhandmade bracelets and rings.
Eight-year-old Marriam displays herhandmade bracelets and rings.

Eight-year-old Emirati, Marriam, set up her stand among the adults around her. She excitedly showed her handmade bracelets and rings to everyone who passed by her table.

“I made them all myself. I started when I was a baby and now, I am selling it all,” she said with a bright grin.

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