art of resistance, Qatar, Sudan

Khartoon! by Khalid Albaih.

kal/image © Khalid Albaih/

Khalid Albaih is a Romanian born Sudanese political cartoonist based in Doha, Qatar. He considers himself a virtual revolutionist, publishing his political cartoons about life in the Arab world on various blogs and websites.

As a loyal follower of his work, I couldn’t agree more. His Khartoon! facebook page is a place you should definitely visit. Here are some of his great cartoons, to get you excited about his work.

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//all images © Khalid Albaih//

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art of resistance, Qatar

Qatar’s First Anime & Manga Toy Store.

This month Doha News has a lovely story about a young Qatari couple Fatma Al-Jassim and Jassim Al-Mass who just opened Qatar’s first manga store, Hobby Chan. Chantelle D’Mello writes how the growing local subculture of anime aficionados is fueled in large part by dubbed Japanese cartoons that used to air on local television networks.

For me, this is a piece of art,” said Al-Jassim, referring to her collection of anime figures. “We grew up watching anime in Arabic. Japan has always been part of our childhood. There’s just something magical in these creations and in that world.”

aaasAl-Jassim and Al-Mass //image © Chantelle D’Mello/ Doha News//

Speaking to Doha News, Al-Mass said the shop is the result of around a year of planning and hard work.

We were motivated to open the store after we visited Japan for our honeymoon (last October). From concept to branding to creating the actual store, the process took around seven months. We were very fortunate to meet Danny Choo when we were at Comic Con in Dubai last year, and he put us in touch with vendors and wholesalers for our merchandise.”

Some of the major hurdles included wading through the paperwork needed to start a business in Qatar, and keeping in mind social norms, Al-Mass said, continuing:

“The whole thing was a challenge, to be honest, because we are doing something new. We were worried how society would respond. The mentality is that toys are just for kids, and not for adults, and we’re trying to break that. The legwork took around six months, while creating the store and getting everything in took barely a month.”

asedHobby Chan Store //image © Chantelle D’Mello/ Doha News//

Al-Jassim added that it has also been tough to coax fans to come out of ‘hiding’: “Most Qataris who are into this, don’t say it out loud. The fans are there, but the are quiet. They need a place where they can meet others like them. They need a place they can call home, and we hope to provide that for them,” she said.

The duo, both graphic designers, created the store’s design and layout themselves. “We wanted to bring an authentic Japanese feel here. We don’t just want to sell the products, but the experience too. Everything is compact because toy stores in Japan are compact,” said Al- Mass.

akod//image © Chantelle D’Mello/ Doha News//

Currently, the store stocks merchandise from Japanese cartoons and games popular in the region, including One Piece, Naruto, Fairy Tail, Gintama, Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon.

Read the full article by Chantelle D’Mello on Doha News. For more on the Hobby Chan store – visit their Instagram and their Twitter page.

ass/photo via Hobby Chan Instagram/

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art of resistance, Kuwait, Qatar, travel, United Arab Emirates

Far From Home: Guest Workers of the Gulf.

Jonas Bendiksen is Norwegian photographer who likes working on stories that get left behind in the race for the daily headlines – journalistic orphans. Often, the most worthwhile and convincing images tend to lurk within the hidden, oblique stories that fly just below the radar.”

One of those journalistic orphans are the foreign workers in the arab Gulf oil states such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. Their situation, living and working conditions are still rarely examined, and that is what Bendiksen decided to do with his photo essay Far from home – Guest workers of the gulf.

Artist statement:

This story explores the world of guest workers in the arab Gulf oil states such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. While marketing itself as luxury playgrounds of tourism and business, close to 90% of UAE and Qatar’s population are foreign workers. Most of these workers come from far poorer nations such as India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nepal, and the workers often endure very difficult employment and living conditions. Many of the workers take up big loans in their home countries in order to get to the middle east but then struggle to pay the debt in order to gain any profits. Oftentimes parents will leave their homes and children for a decade or more to try to build up savings for their family back home, putting a big strain on family relations. 

The World Bank estimates that the yearly sum of global remittances (the money being sent home by foreign guest workers) amounts to more than double all official foreign aid globally. 

Foreign guest workers therefore have a formidable economic impact, but often at a high personal cost.

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MM8083 Guest Workers - Philippines trip

MM8083 Guest Workers - Philippines tripall images © Jonas Bendiksen

For more on this photo essay, and more of Bendiksen’s other work – visit his Magnum profile, and his official website.

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Iran, Morocco, Qatar, tea + food, travel, Turkey

Glorious (and beyond sweet) tea rituals in the Middle East.

Tea time!

Now, I’ve already posted about the glorious mint tea all over the Middle East, so this post explores the other kinds of tea enjoyed throughout the Middle East, and the sweets/fruit eaten with it traditionally. Of course, there are some amazing teapots included, because of their beauty and uniqueness. All in all, it’s a small tea ceremony (most of the photos I found on Pinterest). Enjoy.

arabic teaLet the games begin.

hibiscus, karkade tea

 

Hibiscus tea or kerkade, very much loved in Turkey, Egypt and Sudan, among others.

Maamoul-moldsMa’amoul molds

mamoulMaamoul are small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts, often eaten with tea.

morroccan tea biscuitsMoroccan tea biscuits with almonds

persian chaTea served with sweet sweet baklava (pastry filled with chopped nuts)

persian date bread, perfect with teaPersian date bread with turmeric and cumin, perfect with tea

persian teaa potPersian teapot

pistachio baklava cake - twistbaklava with a twist – pistachio baklava cake

qatarblack tea serving in Qatar

tea and datestea is often served with dried fruits, dates particularly

teaMoroccan teapot and cups

 

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