Painting the Khaleeji Woman: A Celebration of the Late Saudi Artist Zakia Al Dubaikhi’s Work


Sekka’s interview with Basma Al Zamil, the daughter of Zakia Al Dubaikhi. Video editing: Sama Al Taie.

Through the Khaleeji Art Museum, Sekka is dedicated to showcasing and highlighting the work of regional artists and supporting emerging talents.  The late Zakia Abdulaziz Al Dubaikhi’s artwork is a prime example of a regional artist who had dedicated her energy, love and soul to her work during her lifetime, and who shed a light on the culture and society of the Gulf region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, through them.

With paint, canvas and a brush, the late Saudi artist started her artistic journey at 10 years old with her father’s encouragement. After taking lessons with known Saudi artists in the 1970s to the 1980s, she found herself on her way to painting the stories of the old neighborhoods, children and women of Saudi Arabia in particular, as well as neighboring Bahrain, which she frequented.

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But Zakia’s artistic journey is not your usual narrative. Shortly after showcasing participating in exhibitions in Riyadh, Al Jubail, Jeddah and Dammam, Zakia’s shift focused on pursuing her other two passions: raising a family and teaching English. Thus, she stopped practicing art for nearly two decades.

But after retiring from teaching in 2015, her lifelong dream of having her very own exhibition came chasing back, and she spent most of her free time painting again in the hopes of holding her exhibition sooner than later. For Zakia, the clock was ticking as she had found out that she was suffering from a life-threatening blood disorder. Between hospital appointments, she managed to produce over 100 paintings. After Zakia’s death in 2018, her husband and daughter Basma Al Zamil, decided to fulfill the dream Zakia could not during her lifetime. Because of their dedication and push, her work has been showcased in the cities of Al-Ahsa, Dammam and Manama.

Zakia may have left us, but her art has and will continue to live on. It is a pleasure for us at Sekka to present and celebrate Zakia’s artwork today. Highlighting Zakia’s work is part of our continuous effort to increase female representation in the art world, and specifically of the women of the Gulf region. We have also focused on curating the artworks by Zakia that center on women and women’s social issues that concerned Zakia. Some of these paintings ( By The Moon, Red and Niqab) are exhibited for the very first time.

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“With Passion” by Mohamed A. Alsiadi, the Senior Lecturer and Director of the Arabic Language and Cultural Studies Program at Fordham University. We recommend listening to this oud piece while you browse the exhibition.

Introducing Zakia Al Dubaikhi

Najdi Gahwa
(2017, Acrylic)
Faces Of A Woman
(Circa 1980s, Oil)

(1982, Oil)
Our Neighbour Um Hamad
(2017, Acrylic)
(Date Unknown, Acrylic)

Oh My God!
(Date Unknown, Acrylic)
By The Moon
(Uncompleted, Acrylic)
(2018, Acrylic)
Can I Play Too?
( 2017, Acrylic)
My Cat
(2015, Acrylic)
A Girl From An Old Neighborhood
(Date Unknown, Acrylic)
Reminiscing My Town
(2017, Acrylic)
Norms, Rules, Or Chains?
(2017, Acrylic)
Bahraini Neighborhood
(2017, Acrylic)

Al Adammah, Old Dammam- My Childhood
(Acrylic, 2018)
Is Lunch Ready?
(Acrylic, 2018)
How Much Are Fish Today?
(Acrylic, 2016)
A Day Camping
(2014, Acrylic)
(Uncompleted, Acrylic)
(2017, Acrylic)

Am I Past, Present, Or Future?
(Uncompleted, Acrylic)
Give Me Back My Freedom
(2016, Acrylic)

And Hope Remains
(Uncompleted, Acrylic)

This exhibition was organized by the Sekka Team, with the help of Sama Al Taie and Basma Al Zamil. All photographs are a courtesy of Basma Al Zamil. To find out more about Zakia Abdulaziz Al Dubaikhi, visit this page.

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