The Identity Issue

Letter from the editors

Inside The Identity Issue.
The Identity Issue is available in both English and Arabic. Cover by Emirati photographer Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi.

This issue is brought to you by Dr. Rocco’s Specialized Dental Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Dear readers,

One of the most questions Sharifah and I received as children was if we felt more Emirati, Omani, Saudi, or Bahraini. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our backgrounds, we are Emirati of Omani origin on our dad’s side, and Bahraini and Saudi origin on our mother’s side. We are your Khaleeji blend.

“Where are you from?” is perhaps one of the first questions any of us are asked in a conversation, and as simple as the question may seem, many people around the globe are finding it difficult to define home and feel belonging.

Coming up with themes for our Sekka issues is an exercise that involves months of research, of finding out what topics are relevant to our readers, what they are interested in, what they are debating and what the topic of the hour is. Our research for this issue boiled down to one common word that continued to pop up again and again, and that was: identity.

In that context, we decided to start a discussion around identity, and to examine it from cultural and artistic perspectives. We explore topics such as third culture, home, identity crisis, the diaspora and prejudice. We also highlight the role that bullying, sexual harassment and domestic violence can play in shaping our lives, and the way we view society and ourselves.

We begin our issue’s discussion with our cover designer, Emirati Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi. Noora is an emerging photographer who explores identity through her photography projects. She was selected by Dubai Culture to present her work at this year’s Dubai Art season at the Sikka Art Fair.

From Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi’s “An Arab in Tokyo” series. Click on each photo to enlarge it.

Sharifah Alhinai: Why did you choose to represent a Khaleeji/Arab-looking man in Japan as the theme of your photography series?

Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi: I chose it as a symbol to refer to one’s identity. One should allow themselves to travel and explore different cultures, but also make sure to take a small piece of their own identity with them to share with the world. 

Sharifah Alhinai: Will there be a continuation of the series in the future in other countries, for example? 

Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi: Yes, due to the remarkable feedback this project has received, which I didn’t see coming. I’m planning to work on several series that feature the same concept across different countries, such as the United States, for example.

Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi’s work as displayed in the Sikka Art Fair earlier this year. Click on each photo to enlarge it. Photos: Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi.

Sharifah Alhinai: What’s the message that you’re trying to get across through your work?

Noora Al Murr Al Neyadi: I’ve always been in love with conceptual photography, and the art of producing timeless photographs that can travel in time to generations ahead. At the end of the day, we’re all the same despite our cultural differences, and that in itself is a source of beauty and inspiration. My work sends a message to embrace all differences, to appreciate and explore the beauty this planet has to offer us, and, of course, it also shares the beauty of my country and our identity with the world. 

We are very proud of the new voices and the returning voices that took part in this issue, and we hope that you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Much love,

Manar and Sharifah Alhinai

The views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.