.للقراءة باللغة العربية انقروا هنا
We are no doubt living in challenging times. But we are confident in our ability to overcome the novel coronavirus crisis, and to emerge from it stronger than ever. Our confidence stems from our ancestors, those who roamed the Arabian Peninsula for hundreds and thousands of years before our time. They too endured challenges of significant magnitudes, in the forms of war, famine, environmental hardship, and similar pandemics. And they endured them, generation upon generation, with courage and strength until they emerged victorious.
The same courage and strength that they housed in themselves, we house in us today. We have inherited our resilience, a characteristic that has come to define us as a people, and that we believe is best symbolised by the Ghaf tree, an illustration of which is featured on this issue’s cover.
The Ghaf, which is especially ubiquitous in the UAE and Oman, is the evergreen tree of the desert that is able to withstand and flourish in severe environmental conditions, including extreme heat and drought. Its ability to survive stems from its roots, which are able to extend more than 30 meters deep into the earth to reach groundwater, something their counterparts cannot do. Therefore, in addition to providing nourishment and shade for humans and animals alike, the tree indicated to our ancestors that much needed water was nearby. In other words, its sight provided hope in difficult circumstances.
And this is what we want this issue of Sekka to be: a source of hope for you, our readers. In our current world of distressing and heartbreaking news, we wanted our first issue since the onset of the crisis to focus on the good things that are happening in the Gulf region, and to breathe hope and optimism into your lungs.
Across the English and Arabic versions of this issue, you will meet individuals who are making strides in the worlds of arts, culture, business, and sports in the Arab Gulf States. In our feature interview, Her Highness Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, founder and President of the Emirates Publishers Association, and Vice President of the International Publishers Association, discusses the different strategies taken to support the UAE’s culture infrastructure. We also speak to the Kuwaiti novelist Saoud Al Sanousi, the winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his ground-breaking novel The Bamboo Stalk in 2013, about his latest book Naqat Saleha. We introduce you to Hassan Meer, who tells us about his role in shaping Oman’s contemporary art scene.
Also in the issue, Rashid Al-Nuaimi, the Emirati performer who rose to YouTube stardom five years ago for giving famous English songs an Arabic flavor, reveals the details of the journey that has led him to be recently nominated for an Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Musical Performance by an actor in the musical Oliver!. Renowned Kuwaiti novelist Bothanyna Alessa shares her tips on writing, and reveals her writing routine during quarantine. Accomplished Bahraini sisters Dana and Reem Al Khalifa, the founders of The Overdressed Pavilion and Green Bar Inc, respectively, give us a glimpse of their private world. We also meet with Taghreed Al Bagshi, the Saudi artist who is known as ‘the artist who predicts the future’.
Finally, Manal Ataya, the Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority, discusses the key issues facing museums in the 21st century. Kuwaiti singer Humood Al Khudher explains how positive music is one way for people to heal. Last but not least, Emirati mountain climber Dana Al Ali dares us to be different, and Omani entrepreneur Sara Al Asfoor reflects on establishing Oman’s successful ‘Saturday Market’ concept.
We hope that you enjoy the stories that we have curated for you, and that you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and healthy.
Manar and Sharifah Alhinai
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