at my own pace

untitled . 2022

i haven't been updating my blog with many new projects since the year started, as i'm still catching up on sharing stuff from last year! at the same time, i'm also taking things slow, not taking on too many consecutive projects, and working at my own pace that isn't stressful. i'm still coming out of the end of 2021 madness i.e. multiple expo + national day projects, and don't want to rush into saying yes to everything that comes my way. with that said, i have been working on a couple of exciting, new projects that i can't wait to share.
i write this post as the first day of eid al fitr has just been announced, and we have one more day left for ramadan. which also means, i look forward to getting back on the dance floor! early eid mubarak wishes from me to you, and i hope ramadan was a month filled with blessings for all.
here's a recent two colour stamp print i worked on in the studio. i love making these prints of silhouettes in moments of dance. maybe this motif will lead to a bigger project. let's see if it does, at my own pace...


seven sands

coco jalila uae 50th national day commemorative chocolate box design (final) . 2021

coco jalila uae 50th national day commemorative chocolate boxes (final) . 2021

here's another project i worked on for the uae's 50th national day celebrations, this time for coco jalila. coco jalila is one of my favourite clients, and i'm so happy to have designed another special chocolate box for them (see first box design here).
for the uae's golden jubilee, i wanted to work on something that was a little different than the usual visuals of flags and 'emirati' motifs. i immediately thought of the 'seven sands of the uae', where each emirate is know to have a distinct colour of sand. i worked on these coloured dune shapes that stack over each other to represent the different coloured sand dunes of each emirate, and can also represent the different flavours of chocolate in the box!
the final box also includes the coco jalila logo printed in gold foil to subtly represent the uae's golden jubilee, and give it an elegant touch. 
i'm really happy with how it turned out, and i hope whoever came across these enjoyed it too, including the chocolates! if you haven't tried their chocolates yet, what are you waiting for – order coco jalila chocolates now! #supportlocal


flora of the uae

acacia . 2020

desert cotton . 2020

ghaf . 2020

ochradenus . 2020

salt bush . 2020

oasis environmental panels at the uae pavilion, expo 2020 dubai . 2021 (courtesy of the uae pavilion)

oasis environmental panels at the uae pavilion, expo 2020 dubai . 2021 (courtesy of the uae pavilion)

oasis environmental panels at the uae pavilion, expo 2020 dubai . 2021 (courtesy of the uae pavilion)

oasis environmental panels at the uae pavilion, expo 2020 dubai . 2021 (courtesy of the uae pavilion)

oasis environmental panels at the uae pavilion, expo 2020 dubai . 2021 (courtesy of the uae pavilion)

as expo 2020 dubai comes to a close at the end of the month, i thought i would share a couple of projects i worked on with some of the pavilions at the fair. first up is the uae pavilion – i was asked to illustrate a selection of indigenous plants from the emirates which were applied onto informational panels in the 'oasis' garden around the pavilion.
i was really happy to be accepted for this project. i learnt so much about plants that grow here, something i usually take for granted when distracted by life in the city! i worked on these illustrations in the very hot summer of 2020 where covid was all the news. and since expo was pushed for the following year, there was plenty of time to work on these and deliver a well resolved series of minimal plant drawings.
i've only shared a selection of illustrations from the complete series (12 in total). there's a few others shown in the photographs above as well. if you're reading this and might've seen these panels in person, hope you enjoyed the illustrations! a big thanks goes to the uae pavilion for the opportunity. and congratulations on your presence and success at expo.


birthday giggles

portrait . 2022

it's that time again – i'm a year older, a year wiser. i decided to take a break from posting about ongoing projects to share with you an illustration of myself laughing hysterically on the verge of passing out! for those who know me, this is a very common state to find me in after hearing or watching something i find hilarious. i am easily humoured, and i'm truly blessed for all the laughter in my life, finding the brighter side to this sometimes sad and heavy world. i hope i continue to be this way, and have the right people surrounding me to join in on the laughs!
on this birthday, i'd like to give thanks to all the blessings that have come my way through the years. i'm really grateful for everything this life has given me so far, and count my blessings all the time. my only birthday wish this year is that whoever reads this takes the opportunity to offer a lending hand and provide some joy to others. whether it's through charities, donations, or however you see fit, i hope you can offer some sort of help to individuals and communities that are in need...

happy birthday to me! hope it'll be a good one inshallah...


fun to the finish

sun and sand sports illustration . 2022

taking a break from sharing 2021 projects to sharing my first project of 2022! i was approached by sun and sand sports to work on an illustration inspired by their new retail store in dubai mall. sun and sand sports is probably the oldest sports/active wear store in the emirates. growing up in dubai, i've made multiple stops to their stores with family to buy brand new sneakers for school or funky tees to include in my young boy wardrobe! it's amazing that it is still standing strong after 40+ years – an achievement in a place that's constantly changing, and things close as they are unable to keep up with the times. 
i'm really proud to be a part of this journey in some small, illustrative way. the final illustration appropriates the vibrant feel and branding of the new store, but also riffs off my memories and interactions with the store in the '90s. another observation is how it also resembles their original logo from the 1980s which i wasn't even referencing (see here)! i must've opened some dormant memory in my brain while working on this...
i'm really happy with the end result. congratulations sun and sand sports on the new store and on 4 decades of success #funtothefinish

sun and sand sports dubai mall store (visual mood board) . 2022


to glow at night

to glow at night . 2021

to glow at night (back face detail) . 2021

to glow at night (front face detail) . 2021
to glow at night at 'portrait of a nation II: beyond narratives' . 2022 (image courtesy of admaf)

i worked on new textile work at the end of last year, which is currently on display at the 'portrait of a nation II: beyond narratives' exhibition in abu dhabi. it's my latest large scale textile work since 2019, and i'm pretty proud of it! i think i'm slowly beginning to figure out the answers to why i make textile work – it takes me away from my digital screens, it's an analogue process of making that i find therapeutic, and it's my way of making things that feel magical or talismanic that carry personal properties of healing. i love looking at historical regional textile traditions and what textile adornment symbolised. i'd like to think that these forgotten motifs and meanings can exist in today's world. and i think that's what i'm trying to answer as i make these works.
this is my second participation in abu dhabi music & arts foundation (admaf)'s 'portrait of a nation' (see my participation in the first iteration of the exhibition here). i was happy to be invited to participate again, this time with textile work. below is the statement about the new work, titled 'to glow at night':

over recent years, there has been a rekindling of my relationship with certain neighbourhoods around dubai. deira has always been an area that symbolises what the city means to me. it’s where my family comes from, where memories of my childhood live, and where i continue to go looking for inspiration.
i mostly frequent deira when the sun goes down, observing a side to the city that becomes more visible at night. it’s on these outings where i’ve been introduced to genres of music that have filled my heart, and pulled me towards multiple dance floors of nightclubs in the area. it’s in these spaces where i’ve fallen in love with afro-pop, dancing to dj playlists of commercial hits, or to live music by a five piece band with accompanying dancers.
it’s in these spaces where i’ve realised how dancing heals me. it’s become a weekend ritual – shedding the woes of the work week, fuelling my soul by dancing under disco balls, party lights, and music. these night clubs feel talismanic; a space to momentarily exercise a form of collective healing, freedom, and protection from outside (real world) forces. and by way of adornment, one becomes an extension of these talismanic, clubbing experiences – bodies intensified by lights, sounds, smells within the consuming shadows of the dance floor. it’s a journey, a moment of escape – to lose yourself, or maybe find yourself, in the process. ‘to glow at night’ is a tangible ode to my relationship with deira’s many dance floors, that have healed and protected me when the world outside was unable to.

my work since the pandemic has taken a tangential turn, focusing on my longing for the dance floor. by the end of 2021, i was finally able to change my longing to celebrating these memories, creating work in anticipation for when clubs reopen fully, and i can dance again. 'to glow at night' is all disco, sparkle, and celebration personified! i would like to document it when activated on a body – i hope i make time to do so.
if in abu dhabi, please do check out the exhibition at manarat al saadiyat, which runs until 16 april 2022. to know more about the exhibition and programming (i'll be teaching an online workshop myself!), please head to the exhibition page here.
one last thing to share – i created a youtube playlist inspired by the afro-pop music i danced to on many occasions in the early 2010's. its a selection of the seminal songs that sparked my love for afro-pop. just like walking to a club, you'll need to scan the qr code below to access the playlist. happy listening!

'to glow at night' playlist qr code . 2022


capital coffee cups

etihad airways 50th uae national day illustrations . 2021

etihad airways 50th uae national day coffee cups (detail) . 2021

etihad airways 50th uae national day coffee cups collection . 2021

more projects from last year – 2021 marked the uae's 50th golden jubliee. and it was only natural everyone wanted to commemorate the occasion. i was happy to have eithad airways invite me to join in their festivities and work on a series of illustrations that would be applied onto a set of arabic coffee cups, gifted to their vip guests. the illustrations are of iconic landmarks in abu dhabi and al ain, highlighting the capital's investment in architecutre, culture, heritage, tourism and entertainment, with one cup highlighting the airline.
i'm really happy with the end result of these cups. this was one of the more stressful client projects i worked on, as i was juggling the difficulties 2021 threw at me with trying to meet the deadline. but in the end, i think we came up with a really cool product. if anyone's been gifted these, i hope you enjoy them! thank you etihad for the opportunity...