Iraq Pavilion at Venice Biennale shuts in solidarity with protesters

Updated 13 November 2019

Iraq Pavilion at Venice Biennale shuts in solidarity with protesters

  • In a show of solidarity with anti-government protestors, the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has shut down
  • Initially set to run until Nov. 24, the exhibition entitled “Fatherland” was closed on Nov. 5.

DUBAI: Iraq is currently in the midst of ongoing anti-government protests that have claimed the lives of more than 260 Iraqis since they erupted earlier this month. In a show of solidarity, the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has shut down.

Initially set to run until Nov. 24, the exhibition entitled “Fatherland” was closed on Nov. 5.

“Fatherland” is a collection of expressionist paintings by Iraqi-Kurdish artist Serwan Baran that were commissioned by Baghdad-based non-profit organization the Ruya Foundation, which in an official statement shared that the move was to show support to “the popular youth uprisings that have erupted in Iraq against state corruption and deteriorating economic and living conditions.”

“We condemn the use of violence against peaceful protesting, and the bloodshed that has led to the death of over 265 protesters so far,” read the statement shared on the organization’s Twitter account. “Peaceful protesting is a basic right, enshrined in Article 38.c of the Iraqi Constitution.”

“Since our founding in late 2012, we have worked hard, frequently in inhospitable circumstances, to create a platform for artists across Iraq to freely express their creativity, in a firm belief that culture is an integral component of any society, and a powerful force for change towards an open and free country. This is particularly important for Iraq, given its difficult recent history and authoritarian past,” it continued.

The Baghdad-based foundation, which was co-founded by Tamara Chalabi, daughter of former Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, has overseen the Iraq Pavilion in Venice since 2013.


Nike launches its first range of modest swimwear that caters to hijab-wearing athletes

Nike announced the arrival of the company’s first full-coverage swimsuits. Supplied
Updated 30 min 57 sec ago

Nike launches its first range of modest swimwear that caters to hijab-wearing athletes

  • Nike announced the arrival of its first range of full-coverage modest swimwear in Dubai on Tuesday
  • The new collection comes with water-resistant leggings, tunics and a hijab

DUBAI: Nike’s latest innovation is a game-changing one. Following the launch of its highly-successful Nike Pro Hijab in 2017, the athletic giant has just unveiled its brand new range of modest swimwear that caters to hijab-wearing women and is set to change the face of sport globally. 

Aptly entitled the “Victory Swim Collection,” the body-skimming range includes a full-coverage, water-repellent swimsuit in addition to separate options, such as tunic tops, swim leggings and a hijab that can be worn together or mixed and matched. 

The collection was inspired when the Nike swimwear design team took a trip to South East Asia, where they observed children swimming in co-ed pools, but no mothers. 

“We realized that there are some women who are under-served,” noted Martha Moore, Vice President of Design at Nike, during the unveiling of the collection in Dubai this week.

Aptly entitled the “Victory Swim Collection,” the body-skimming range includes a full-coverage, water-repellent swimsuit in addition to separate options. Supplied

“Our goal at Nike is to make sport a daily habit from when you’re really little to when you’re really old and I was seeing people not feeling comfortable in the water because they didn’t have the right innovation or the right product to wear to be able to do any sport in or around the water,” she added.

The first step the Nike designers took before creating the prototype was to speak with female swimmers from diverse communities, to discuss the need for high-performance, modest swimwear. 

The sportswear brand went on to create the first prototype, which they gave to several women to test out. The feedback from the women was virtually the same, pointing out the desire for garments that are not tight, but are lightweight and water-resistant. 

Taking the feedback into consideration, the Nike designers created an updated version, resulting in a body-skimming garment made out of yarn, nylon and spandex knit fabric. The designers added a DWR finish so that the quick-drying material doesn’t absorb, but repels, water. 

Additionally, each swimsuit is equipped with a built-in Nike Pro Shape Bra with perforated cups so that water drains through as one swims. Meanwhile, the Swim Hijab features an integrated mesh pocket that holds hair in place to eliminate strands from getting loose or undone in the water.

Each swimsuit is equipped with a built-in Nike Pro Shape Bra with perforated cups so that water drains through as one swims. Supplied

The new range of swimwear was tested out by athletes, including the first Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari, and this time around, the responses were more positive. “When I first heard the news, I was super excited. I knew it was going to be life-changing,” shared Lari. 

“It’s beyond amazing for the Muslim and hijabi community,” added Egyptian athlete and Nike + Run Club Coach Manal Rostom. 

But the high-performance gear, which was two-years in the making, doesn’t only cater specifically to Muslim athletes but to all women who desire modest or protective options. With UPF 40+, the head-to-toe swimwear is perfect for women who suffer from skin cancer or who wish to shield their body from the sun’s UV rays in addition to those who desire to dress conservatively while swimming. 

The high-performance gear, which was two-years in the making, doesn’t only cater specifically to Muslim athletes but to all women who desire modest or protective options. Supplied

“I don’t wear the hijab, but when I go diving or swimming, I do want to dress modestly,” shares Nouf Al-Osaimi, Saudi Arabia-born diver. “So this collection makes me feel more empowered and I really think it’s going to break stereotypes.”

Adding to her statement, Moore said, “During the design process, we didn’t want to just address the elite performer but the everyday person who wants to be around the water. Whether they’re paddle-boarding or just lounging by the beach.” 

The Nike Victory Swim Collection will be available from Feb. 1 online and at select global retailers, including Nike Dubai.