THE BREAKDOWN: Lebanese artist Abed Al-Kadiri — ‘Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree’

Abed Al-Kadiri is a Lebanese artist. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 September 2020

THE BREAKDOWN: Lebanese artist Abed Al-Kadiri — ‘Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree’

The Lebanese artist discusses how he transformed his art space — Galerie Tanit, which was damaged during the devastating explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4 — into an open canvas, on which he created his 80-panel mural.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day of the explosion: I remember it from an emotional perspective more than a visual one. But if I wanted to give this day a color it would be yellow, because of the light and dust. As Lebanese, we’ve faced a lot of violent circumstances, but at least from my side I’ve never experienced such painful images around me.

“Today, I Would Like To Be A Tree” is a sentence I used in the middle of the pandemic. During lockdown in Beirut, we weren’t allowed to drive or go out between specific times. Suddenly, the world that we knew was no longer the same.

I started a ritual. At the peak of my anxiety and suffocation, I would go to a place that’s surrounded by a lot of trees, and I would sit there for a few hours. I felt I was getting back to nature, which has an ability to heal and absorb our aggression or pain.

His art space was damaged during the devastating explosion in Beirut on Aug. 4. (Supplied)

I started doing a pencil drawing of a tree on a big canvas and I felt how great it would be if I just transformed into a tree. It was a real wish — not just a metaphor. I totally forgot about this drawing until the explosion.

Days and nights passed in which I was going to the gallery to save the artworks. At night, we could not sleep, thinking of the people who lost their houses. We lost our friend, the gallery’s architect Jean-Marc Bonfils. You start to have this guilty feeling: I survived but they didn’t.

One night, this image came to my mind: I saw the gallery filled with my paintings representing trees. With friends, we started putting the cartons on the gallery’s two remaining walls.

Somehow, the mural represents all the windows that were broken in Beirut. From these segments, we can create this huge puzzle that people can buy in pieces, raising money and supporting people in Beirut. Each person will have a part of this major representation of, or reaction to, what happened.

Feet first: Egyptian footwear label blends style and comfort

Updated 22 October 2020

Feet first: Egyptian footwear label blends style and comfort

DUBAI: They say “beauty is pain,” but not for Egyptian footwear label Zee.

The brand’s designs combine comfort and style, making its offerings suitable for settings ranging from edgy and urban life to laid-back for the seaside.

Noureldin Kassem, Zee’s founder, said: “It’s really important to be stylish and comfortable. For us being comfortable is very important, and this is why we used a lot of new materials, like different kinds of leather, and made adjustments to the sandals.”

Brave New World, the brand’s latest collection, draws its inspiration partly from Greco-Roman culture, Kassem told Arab News. 

The collection includes 25 styles in a range of bold and bright designs, featuring sandals and slides to suit a wide range of women’s tastes.

Zee, which was established three years ago, is a sustainable brand that is produced in Egypt, but outsources its materials, such as cork soles, from Spain.


Sway with ease in your Zees. Shot and styled by @keghamdjeghalian #MakeZeeMoves #ZeeSteps #ZeeBraveNewWorld #Zee

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“Sustainability is taking a big share of the market now,” Kassem said.

To make the brand more environmentally friendly, Zee’s packaging now includes pouches made of recycled material made in collaboration with eco-friendly Egyptian fashion brand Up-Fuse. 

Kassem said that while many well-established fashion brands are fighting to survive during the coronavirus pandemic, Zee is taking risks and rebranding itself. 


Stand tall in your Zee-Bomba X #MakeZeeMoves #ZeeSteps #ZeeBraveNewWorld #ZeeByKegham #ZeeBombaX #Zee

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Amid plans for a possible launch of trainers or heels, Zee’s team is working on designing sneakers, which better fit the “persona and identity of the brand.”

Kassem also praised his team, including creative director Kegham Djeghalian, for doing “a great job during this difficult period.”