I recently wrote an article about the trailblazing female artists of Bahrain for The Establishment. The article was an absolute pleasure to write; I interviewed four of the Bahrain-based artists that most fascinate me – Ramah Al Husseini, Sarah Nabil, Frances Stafford, and Yasmin Sharabi – and tried to capture what I love about the quirky, eclectic movement they are creating.
I’m rushing down the winding alleyways of Adliya, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s funkiest district, on my way to the album launch party for the island’s only homegrown baroque’n’roll band. It’s November, but the evening is warm and jasmine-scented. Groups of people wander streets crowded with cafes, shawarma stands, and bougainvillea-draped villas that look grandiose in the moonlight.
I’m halfway through a whirlwind 24-hour exploration of Bahrain’s dynamic art scene, as seen through the eyes of some of the country’s most talked about young, female creators. Bahrain is the smallest nation in the Middle East—you’ll need to squint at the map and look for the islands off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia to find it—but its influence on history has been tremendous. As the heart of the ancient Dilmun civilization, Bahrain spent millennia as a trade hub, saturated by the ebb and flow of cultures, which left the nation with an eclectic feel unique in the Arabian Gulf.
The Gulf region has made waves in the art world recently, with Qatar building a collection of international masterpieces at such an impressive rate that it has become the world’s largest buyer of contemporary art, and Art Dubai and the Sharjah Biennial making the region a key stop on the international art fair circuit. In the midst of this, Bahrain marches to the beat of its own drummer by balancing an embrace of international arts culture with a celebration of homegrown creative talent—the latter of which has made the country an epicenter of a new art movement.
You can read the rest of the article here.
It’s the first of December but the night is warm and almost humid. Traffic into Adliya is creeping past the Gulf Hotel and my driver suggests it would be quicker if I hop out and cross the road on foot.
I slip out of the car and into the crowds hurrying toward the distant glitter of twinkle lights coming from Al Riwaq’s The Nest. The Nest comprises a street market, live music, art installations, workshops, outdoor film screenings, and more. Designed to foster creativity, enliven Adliya’s public spaces, and bring together diverse creators and small businesses, it is an immersive, magical experience.
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One of my favorite parts of being a writer is doing research. To write confidently and to fully inhabit the world you are creating for your characters, you have to do the groundwork which can mean reading books, interviewing people, eating certain foods, listening to certain music, anything and everything that might help to paint a fully realized fictional world.
On the summer solstice, that meant spending a magical evening at a 4,000 year old Dilmun temple at one of the world’s largest ancient burial sites.
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The last time I posted was in August, when I was enjoying a splendid birthday treat at La Fontaine. A few weeks after that, my life got very busy…
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I’m a 3rd generation expat, born in Saudi Arabia to expat parents. They also grew up as globetrotters and spent most of their childhoods in Arabia. Wanderlust can be hereditary, it seems. Before my 2nd birthday my parents took me around the world more than once; in those two years we visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, Rome, Hawaii, Texas, Egypt, France, and, of course, Disney World. I’m exhausted just typing that sentence, I can’t even comprehend how my parents did it with a baby in tow. Dubious parental sanity aside, it’s clear that traveling was part of my DNA from the start.
For someone who is a dedicated homebody I’ve racked up a lot of miles over the years; by 18 I had traveled to more than 40 countries and lived on 4 continents. At this point I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t involve over-stamped passports, battered luggage, and frequent flier miles on half a dozen airlines. The funny thing is, (or perhaps it’s predictable, given my rootless upbringing) as much as I love to travel, I’m simultaneously loathe to leave home, so over the years I’ve perfected the art of making myself at home on the road. Here are my top 5 tips for my fellow globetrotting homebodies:
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