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.


Meet the hijabi fashion blogger redefining modest style

Updated 19 October 2020

Meet the hijabi fashion blogger redefining modest style

DUBAI: With their chic, modest style and unprecedented flair for makeup, a new crop of Instagram stars are irrevocably redefining the hijab. Rana Ellithy, who recently popped up on our radar, is certainly one to watch. 

The 21-year-old became an Instagram sensation in less than a year, garnering almost 100,000 followers in mere months after uploading a styling video on Instagram in April. “I was really not expecting that video to blow up like that,” she shared with Arab News. “I did it just for fun, but I got some really positive feedback,” she added, stating that some young women even messaged her to tell her they felt inspired to wear the hijab because of her video.

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Do I look tall?

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Ellithy was born in Egypt and brought up in the UK. The business consultant, who graduated last year, now splits her time between London and Cairo. It was in the former where the stylist and influencer decided to take blogging more seriously. “I was bored during quarantine in London,” she explained. “So, I started taking more pictures and videos and uploading them on Instagram.”

The stylist believes the reason that her videos and photographs were able to resonate with so many people so quickly is because of her ability to effortlessly take readily-available pieces and basics from Zara and H&M and create chic outfits that her Gen Z followers can easily reinterpret.

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Rare pic without my sunglasses

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“I always felt like there was a gap of modest bloggers around my age,” Ellithy shared. “Their fashion taste is very good, but it’s not personally what I would wear. I try to stick to everyday basics because that’s what girls my age like,” she said, adding that some of her go-to brands are Egyptian labels Emma, a headscarf brand, and Zoella. 

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Bright Bright

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Fortunately, Ellithy’s foray into the world of social media has been smooth, with her only obstacle being balancing her full-time corporate job with blogging. “It’s really hard to balance the two,” she admits. “There’s a lot of expectation on me to post consistently, so I try to film as much content as I can on the weekends,” she said.

However, she revealed that she will eventually pursue her love for fashion full-time and even has plans to roll-out her very own online concept that focuses on everyday basics for modest dressers.