Arab Women That Are Dominating Creative Fields
Hana Al Omair
Hana Al Omair
Al Omair is a Saudi Arabian filmmaker who has recently directed and co-wrote Netflix’s first-ever Saudi thriller Whispers. The limited series consists of 8 episodes and centers around a wealthy family that has experienced the death of their patriarch. The project analyzes Arab family dynamics and follows characters that exemplify unique and expectation-defying traits. Al Omair was awarded a grant from the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2019 for her writing in the film Sharshaf (Director: Hind Al Fahhad; Producer: Talal Ayel). The film is a romantic drama depicting a young woman navigating a new marriage and rising extremism within her family through the magic of cinema. Al Omair has won multiple awards for her contribution to the film industry, including the Golden Palm Tree Award for Best Actor at the Saudi Film Festival for her 2019 film Swan Song, and the Best Short Fiction Film Award at the Saudi Film Competition in 2015. Now, she heads the new Saudi Cinema Association she helped advocate for when cinemas were still banned in Saudi Arabia, while she works to turn Sharshaf into a feature film.
Photo by: Rudolf Azzi
Akl is a Lebanese artist and activist most known for her creative and poetic videos discussing the pitfalls of her society. Her video “Baklava Got Legs” has over 121k views on Youtube, and over 4 million views on Instagram. The video highlights the constant harassment and derogatory behavior Arab men direct at Lebanese women in their daily life. Baklava is a type of Arab sweet which men have turned into a cat-call. For example, a man may say, “so I see Baklava could walk on two feet now” to a woman scared for her life, and praying that she gets home safe. “This Baklava you speak of and that sweetens your life,” Akl states, “is terrified of you, day and night, sunrise to sunset”
Another one of her videos focused on the political and economic state of Lebanon, a subject she felt was ignored by many of her Lebanese counterparts. According to her instagram caption, she released the video hours before the explosion in Beirut. “We were continuing our life… when our country was collapsing.” Her caption continued, “and then the explosion took place… but nothing major has changed.” Akl is an artist in every sense of the word. She is a singer, dancer, and filmmaker. She has been featured within the likes of GQ Middle East and Marie Claire Arabia, and has contributed to creative projects like Spotify’s Sawtik initiative working to amplify Arab female voices. Akl’s goal is to motivate change and mobilize forces through her art. “Art is the only remedy or cure for sunken souls and eyes,” she told GQ in November 2021, “I do believe art can bring about real change.”
Taiba Al Nassar
Taiba Al Nassar
Formerly known as The Urban Analyst, Al Nassar started her creative journey as a Kuwaiti fashion blogger while she was still in high school. She was unafraid to experiment with her style in a society that is always watching and constantly judging - a product of societal expectations of women, and a culture based in gossip and rumors. As she grew into her own, her short pink bob and abstract fashion sense made her a standout within the Arab fashion community. Since starting her blog, Al Nassar has modeled for Nike, started her own Zine entitled “3asal magazine” (3asal meaning honey in Arabic), specifically targeting and highlighting MENA women, and is a co-founder of the “Sour Apple Collective”, all while pursuing a BA in Fashion Communication and Promotion from Central Saint Martins in London. She has been featured in Vogue Arabia and i-D, and continues to be a driving force for creative women in the Arab world.
Coffee & Castoffs (Sheikha)
Illustration By: Coffee & Castoffs
Sheikha is a business owner and illustrator based in Kuwait. She has an established social media base of over 11 thousand followers on Instagram and TikTok. The artist is most known for her collection of pieces in response to the murder of Farah Akbar, a woman who was kidnapped and killed by a man who had previously attempted to murder her but was left unmonitored due to a “lack of evidence” (which translates to a lack of investigation). The collection featured pieces in both English and Arabic and highlighted other instances of Arab women being murdered (mostly under the guise of an “honor killing”). Sheikha also runs a small business where she sells her artwork in the form of stationery, prints, apparel, and more. She continues to send messages and express her beliefs through her work and is motivated to discuss topical and significant issues through her ever-growing platform.
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