‘The Pact We Made’: Exploring family life in Kuwait

“The Pact We Made” is Layla Al-Ammar’s debut novel. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 September 2020

‘The Pact We Made’: Exploring family life in Kuwait

CHICAGO: Layla Al-Ammar’s debut novel, “The Pact We Made,” takes readers to Kuwait and the rituals and life of a Kuwaiti family. A mother and father live with their two daughters, one of whom is married. The approaching thirtieth birthday of Dahlia, the unmarried daughter, has the family on edge. Her marriage prospects are a source of tension with her mother, furthering her anxiety and keeping her distant. To her mother she is an anomaly, but a buried secret in Dahlia’s past has been slowly transforming Al-Ammar’s main character.

Readers first meet Dahlia as she entertains a suitor, a man who, like Dahlia’s mother, is thankful that she did not try to become a doctor, despite her good grades, because a wife’s place is in the home. Dahlia’s life is made up of only rituals, no choices: Morning rituals, cultural rituals, familial rituals and marriage rituals. The only time she can find an escape is when she draws — a hobby but not a worthy career, according to her father — and when she’s away from her family with her best friends Mona and Zaina.

But even as Dahlia escapes her familial pressures, she is never quite herself. At night, panic grips her as a yathoom, a devilish entity, sits on her chest until she cannot breathe and then crawls back into hell. The secret deep inside her is eating away at her. Neither Mona nor Zaina can help, because what has trapped Dahlia is her lack of control over her own life, her own body and her own future, as she reflects that “here, in this country, we are taught to listen to others, to subjugate our desires to the wisdom of the collective, the tried and true of tradition. Seek the approval of the masses, of society. Heed, above all, your parents. Protect your reputation and the honor of the family.”

Al-Ammar presents a story of families that enjoy the privileges of vacations abroad and certain freedoms and friendships that keep them afloat amid traditional struggles between generations. Dahlia has two lives, one created with a semblance of choice while the other has no choice at all. There are insights into loneliness and societal pressures that Al-Ammar weaves gracefully into a story that is difficult to tell. Healing must follow, and Dahlia will find out how, one way or another.


Amina Muaddi to launch handbag collection

Updated 17 September 2020

Amina Muaddi to launch handbag collection

DUBAI: Jordanian-Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi revealed on Thursday that she is expanding her business with a new handbag collection that will launch in October.

The Paris-based designer — beloved by celebrities — told her 573,000 Instagram followers that her new line will be called Aminis.

She shared a series of images of the new bags being manufactured. According to her shots, her rectangular purses will be available in a range of different colors — including purple, black and silver – and sizes. The handles are adorned will be adorned with crystals, some plain, others with a variety of colors.

Muaddi already has a well-established brand — famous for its signature flared heels — that has garnered a loyal following of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin Bieber.

Her most famous collaboration is the limited-edition footwear capsule collection with multi-hyphenate superstar Rihanna’s Fenty, which dropped in July.

Rihanna tapped Muaddi to design a collection of shoes for her luxury maison back in December. The news wasn’t all that surprising, considering that the singer-turned-designer has been a longtime fan of Muaddi. 

The designer’s eye-catching shoes also previously featured in Rihanna's Savage x Fenty show at New York Fashion Week.