‘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.

Hijab-wearing makeup artist Salma Rahman stars in new Adidas campaign 

Updated 30 October 2020

Hijab-wearing makeup artist Salma Rahman stars in new Adidas campaign 

DUBAI: British-Bangladeshi makeup artist Salma Rahman has starred in a new campaign for sportswear giant Adidas.

The hijab-wearing social media star worked with Adidas Football for their “Human Race” jerseys, designed by R&B singer Pharrell Williams for five major football clubs including Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus and Arsenal. Williams, music producer and singer of the hit “Happy,” has been working with Adidas since 2014.  

The brand recreated five past iconic jerseys for each club using tie-dye and hand-painting techniques to make the shirts less formal. 

Sporting Arsenal’s jersey, Rahman shared pictures of the campaign with her 22,500 Instagram followers. 


who remembers the great gatsby book cover? yea this is her now — edit: @niqabaechronicles

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“Being a part of @adidasfootball x @pharrell human race reminds me of what I love most about being creative,” she wrote. “To me, creativity has the capacity to ground and uplift oneself and the community. Football jerseys are not just for football players and football is a game for everyone. When I work with makeup, I’m able to express myself, as a human being. To me, this jersey is a reminder that colour unifies and will always spark inspiration.”


4 my ugly ducklings

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Famous for her bold use of colors, Rahman topped off her look with daring makeup that incorporated the tie-dye colors of the jersey: blue, orange, yellow and mint green.  

This is not the first time Rahman has partnered with an international brand to represent the hijab-wearing community. She has previously worked with makeup brand Glossier and sportswear giants Nike and Champion.