Despite being born and raised in Saudi, I am no more than an expatriate. My father having lived here for more than 40 years, makes him no more than an expatriate. My grandfather who spent his entire life helping build Saudi Arabia’s economy, died on their land, no more than an expatriate.
Numerous reasons to why our ancestors moved to Saudi Arabia, in my opinion it was mostly to cut short the distance between them & God. It’s quite a luxury to be able to visit Makkah & Madina any time we wish, at times we don’t even realise how many people would kill to be in our places yet we just take it for granted.
On my last trip to Madina I was fortunate enough to see the less spiritual and more routine life of its people. I then decided to at least try & voice the issue that clearly seemed to spread throughout the region. Of a family business where the women sell everyday necessities under the hot sun while the men sit & guard, one of them in particular caught my attention. Looking down at the ground she waited till the sun set to once again catch the sight of her children, to see how much they earned throughout their day. By carrying the inherited business forward & despite the conditions she still believed to call Madina her home as,in her defence, she knew no other. However deep down she was aware, she knew she was no more than an expatriate, just another migrant from Pakistan.
Give it your all
Despite spending all her time & money in this beloved country she was never given any recognition. Every month would be a struggle from one bureaucratic office to another, just to be able to earn the legal title of a “resident”. Over the time span of a couple of months, as the process would begin to clear, it wasn’t long before the documents would begin to expire again. Once again forced to go through the same processes over & over, struggling to stay in the country her ancestors and herself had given their all to.
Inspired by famous Saudi artist Manal Al Dowayan’s piece “Ismi” – she creates an artwork based on how men find it offensive to mention the names of their women.Taking matters in her own hands Manal decides to gather the saudi women to stamp their mark in the emerging art scene. As the industry grows their names shall remain preserved, un-erased & never again be a source of shame.
Earning the title
Manal Al Dowayan is now known as Saudi Arabia’s top female artist whose name brings upon her people’s faces sheer pride. Proved to have clearly achieved the objective, it was after Manal’s last exhibition that I was stimulated to at least voice this issue. An issue that seems to permeate the entire region! Often when people hear me vent about the matter they seem to have no other solution than to leave. Frankly no better cliche fits in here than “easier said than done”.
Jeddah is & shall always remain home to me, not only has it moulded my every characteristic into shape but has rather taught me far more than any other place in the world could. Being able to deal with such a vast number of nationalities is not a characteristic we inherent , & frankly is one that’s definitely worth keeping. Along with the luxury of frequent spiritual journeys it’s far more than a blessing. A constant reminder to what my morals are, Jeddah seems to have the perfect blend of life & the afterlife. Most of you that don’t agree have not yet reached your epiphany,I reached mine right after I shot the preceding shot ..
Being content with what you have, and with what you don’t is what most of us lack. We might say we’ve given so much only so we are given at least its equivalent in return. Only once intentions are clear & hope for nothing in return,might actually prove to be quite a satisfaction.
Content, yet still fighting
Tackling cultural issues has always intrigued me & somehow have always made their way on my canvas.
What started off as rage-full drawings of “home” as a child, have now lead me to capture other faces who tackle & struggle the same matters. Not only did I notice the great number of people who wished to share their voice with mine, I also learned to express it in a form that gave me most pleasure. With the aid of just one lens, every shutter is a step closer to my actual epiphany..