Survivors of Daesh’s genocide in Iraq come together to create Yazidi Cultural Archives

Survivors of Daesh’s genocide in Iraq come together to create Yazidi Cultural Archives
‘The Temple of Betrayal’ by Saher Shaker. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 November 2022

Survivors of Daesh’s genocide in Iraq come together to create Yazidi Cultural Archives

Survivors of Daesh’s genocide in Iraq come together to create Yazidi Cultural Archives

DUBAI: Malaeen Luqman Khalaf was in her early teens when Daesh swept into Iraq and unleashed a genocidal campaign against the Yazidis, an ancient ethnic and religious minority living in the country’s north-west. A young girl of just 14, she was among thousands of Yazidi women and adolescent girls who were kidnapped and enslaved. Many of them were systematically raped and subjected to horrific acts of sexual violence. Thousands of men were also murdered and hundreds of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee their ancestral homelands. 

The fate of many of those women and girls remains unknown, but Yazda, a community-led organization that protects and champions religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria, has kept a database of survivors since 2014. That database currently numbers more than 1,000.  

“The experiences of these women are unimaginable. First, they were under siege. Second, their fathers or brothers or husbands or sons were killed. Third, they were taken as hostages and sold and bought by Isis members and tortured physically and sexually,” says Haider Elias, the president of Yazda, using another term for Daesh. “It’s beyond comprehension.” 




‘Behind Every Darkness is Light’ by Malaeen Luqman. (Supplied)

Now, eight years later, Khalaf is among 16 Yazidi women who have shared their stories of resilience and are using art as a means to support their psychological wellbeing. Working in collaboration with Yazda, the women have created four online exhibitions — collectively known as the Yazidi Cultural Archives — in an attempt to raise awareness of the continued plight of the Yazidis, to conserve their cultural heritage, and to provide psychosocial support. The exhibitions include first-person testimonies, art and photography. 

Designed to leverage the psychological benefits of artistic engagement, cultural validation and group support, the archives took a year to create and were launched at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and at Yazda’s headquarters in Duhok, Iraq, on Oct. 26. They will act as “a permanent digital repository of Yazidi culture” and have been published by the United Nations on Google’s Arts and Culture platform. 

Now 23 and living in Qadia camp, Khalaf is in her final year of high school and dreams of becoming an artist. Still too traumatized to discuss her experience, she painted because she wanted people to know what her life was like, both in captivity and after. “I drew the reality of when I was in captivity and after I was free, so the two of them kind of combined, which was hard for me because I had to remember all the things in the past,” she says, speaking through an interpreter. “It helped me to not lose hope, to get up and to work on our culture.” 




Deq Tattooing process, photographed by Zina Ibrahim. (Supplied)

“It’s not a conventional archive,” explains Elias, whose brother was killed during the genocide and whose father was briefly abducted. “It’s an archive that has been made by the survivors themselves, with a little bit of help from Yazda and partners.” Those partners include the Iraq Cultural Health Fund, which was established by Community Jameel and Culturunners in 2021, and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology.  

For Elias, the project has three primary benefits. The first is the healing and psychosocial support that art can provide to the 16 women from internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Qadia, Khanke, Mamrashan, Kabartu, Sharia and Chameshko in Duhok Province. An evaluation of the impact of the archives on the psychological wellbeing of participants will be supported by New York University’s Arts and Health initiative and by the World Health Organization’s Arts and Health program.  

The second benefit is cultural preservation in the face of continued displacement, while the third is increased global awareness of the continued suffering of the Yazidis, particularly the survivors.   




‘Fleeing on truck’ by Zmnanko Ismael. (Supplied)

“What is new in this platform is that there are two levels,” says Nathalie Bondil, head of museum and exhibitions at the IMA. “First of all, the women were able to express what they felt thanks to drawings or paintings. This is the first step of the therapy. But what is also important is that they will be recognized for who they are as women — as women with a name, as individuals. The platform will not only show their drawings but present a portrait of each of them. It will help them to be recognized for who they are — not only to express what they felt or what they endured, but to show who they are to the world.” 

At the heart of the project is cultural preservation. Yazidi shrines, temples and other sites of historic importance were destroyed in Sinjar, Bahzani, Bashiqa and elsewhere in northern Iraq. Elias states that around 68 temples were destroyed in Sinjar alone, not only impacting the Yazidis’ tangible heritage but their ability to perform religious rituals and practices. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of people has also created an existential threat to the population’s traditional ways of life. Of the more than half a million Yazidis in Iraq before 2014, 360,000 were displaced by Daesh, with an estimated 200,000 still living in IDP camps. An estimated 2,763 Yazidis are still missing. 

“We have a generation of Yazidis who were born in the camps,” says Elias. “We have a generation who do not know what the Yazidi temples are, what the traditional holidays are, what traditional materials we use. A lot of Yazidis are losing this in the camps, especially those who are migrating to Europe. They are assimilating and they forget. Their children are forgetting what the culture of the Yazidis is.” 




‘Burning women’ by Hanna Hassan. (Supplied)

During the creation of the archive Khalaf focused on painting but was also drawn to filiklor, a musical style in the stan tradition that tells stories of love, history and religion.  

“We would visit people and we would ask them to tell us the stories of these songs and why they sang them, because for us the songs are true stories from the past,” she says. “I just wanted to know more about our traditions and customs after I was freed.” Those traditions include tattooing (known as deq), various forms of cuisine, and national dress.  

Then there’s awareness. Because eight years have passed since the genocide, and because other crises have arisen, the suffering of the Yazidis has slipped from public consciousness. “You know, we’ve tried — in terms of advocacy — almost every front,” says Elias, who has also worked with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, who advocates for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. “We’ve tried virtual reality advocacy; we’ve tried documenting the genocide; we’ve tried advocating conferences in a conventional way. Now we’re trying art because we’ve disappeared from the headlines. 

“People’s attention gets divided,” he admits. “The attention of donors and supporters is drawn to more urgent causes, but our problem is that the Yazidi case has not been resolved yet. Nothing has happened. Security hasn’t been achieved. Isis is defeated temporarily, but people have not gone back to their homes, reparation hasn’t started yet, justice has partially started but not completely, and reconciliation hasn’t started. So many aspects are still left hanging there. That’s why it’s important to keep it in the public domain and remind the world that we’re here. We’re still in the camps. We’re still suffering.” 


Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 
Updated 20 sec ago

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

Bollywood comes to the UAE at Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibit 

ABU DHABI: Bollywood has come to the UAE as the Louvre Abu Dhabi unveiled its newest art exhibition, on the history of Indian cinema.  

Home to one of the world’s largest film industries, India reportedly releases more than 1,500 genre-varying movies in 20 languages per year.  

“Bollywood Superstars” features a wide selection of paintings, photographs, costumes, tapestries and photographic objects. (Supplied)

Running until June 4, “Bollywood Superstars” features a wide selection of paintings, photographs, costumes, tapestries and photographic objects. A significant number of the displayed items are on loan from the Musee du Quai Branly — Jacques Chirac in Paris, which specializes in indigenous art.  

Indian cinema was developed in the 20th century, but as the exhibition demonstrates, narration and moving images have been present long before the modern era. In a way, the nation’s vibrant visual culture, folk performing arts, shadow puppetry, ancient epics and mythologies — dating back to 2,000 years — led to the birth of Bollywood. Some of the displayed objects represent the celebration and revival of religious, cultural figures, and heroes.   

significant number of the displayed items are on loan from the Musee du Quai Branly — Jacques Chirac in Paris, which specializes in indigenous art. (Supplied)

In the early days, traveling story-tellers roamed around, narrating scenes of important epics. A showcased mid-20th century wooden altar, resembling a toy box, shows on its detailed panels painted characters and scenes from the battle-themed “Ramayana” epic. It almost looks like a contemporary film set, where movement, costume, and staging are in action. 

Other objects reveal deities, taking them out of their temples and closer to worshippers. There is a colorful wooden bioscope that projects with light images of a deity. “Like a music box, a hand crank slides images for viewers to see peering through small peepholes,” reads a label next to the device.  

India reportedly releases more than 1,500 genre-varying movies in 20 languages per year. (Supplied)

Movies arrived in India via the revolutionary French Lumiere brothers, who invented photographic equipment, in 1896. As the years advanced, filmmaking became a weapon against colonial rule, asserting identity. Modern pioneering directors, such as the late Dadasaheb Phalke (dubbed “the Father of Indian Cinema”), were inspired by their own literature and culture, manifesting in their creations.     

The exhibition ends with a presentation of popular Hindi cinema today, witnessing a boom from the 1970s onwards with luminaries Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, and Shah Rukh Khan on the rise. Whether in old or modern times, “Bollywood Superstars” is a reminder of a human need to tell stories. 


American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure
Updated 06 February 2023

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure

American multinational bank JPMorgan recommends Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure
  • The bank’s annual brochure lists suggested recreational, artistic, and cultural activities to enjoy during holidays
  • The brochure mentions that the museum of ancient Egyptian civilization will display the complete collection of the boy king Tutankhamun

CAIRO: JPMorgan Bank is directing its clients toward the Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure.

The publication is distributed to the organization’s distinguished clients around the world.

It lists suggested recreational, artistic, and cultural activities to enjoy during holidays, while highlighting the most important attractions and places around the world.

This year’s brochure includes many locations, and among them is a picture of the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum, accompanied by some information about the attraction.

It says that the museum of ancient Egyptian civilization will display the complete collection of the boy king Tutankhamun.

Ahmed Issa, Egyptian minister of tourism and antiquities, appreciated the bank’s gesture in recommending the museum to its clients.

The museum’s opening is eagerly awaited and it will be considered one of the most important establishments of its kind in the world.

The minister said that its opening date will be decided as soon as possible, adding that kings, presidents, and senior officials from around the world will attend its inauguration.

Soha Ali, CEO of JPMorgan Bank in Egypt and North Africa, held a meeting with Issa recently, and thanked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for its cooperation, and for providing information on the museum, as well as photographs.

JPMorgan Bank, the largest in the US and one of the biggest in the world, issues its booklet on an annual basis.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 
Updated 06 February 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

DUBAI: Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo turned 38 on Feb. 5 and celebrated his birthday with family and close friends in an intimate gathering in Saudi Arabia. 

His longtime partner Georgina Rodriguez and oldest son Cristiano Jr. were also present for the celebrations.  

Among the attendees were his oldest friends Miguel Paixao and Jose Semedo. Ronaldo also invited Madrid-based reporter Edu Aguirre and wife Julia Salmean, along with his new personal manager and agent Ricky Regufe and personal wealth manager Miguel Marques.

Ronaldo took to Instagram to share a few snapshots from the day, captioning the post: “Thank you everyone for all the birthday messages. Grateful to have spent the day with my family and friends.” 

In the photos, the football superstar can be seen posing in front of a table laden with multiple birthday cakes. Another photo shared in the carousel of images shows Ronaldo taking advantage of the winter weather on what appears to be a trip to the desert, complete with a roaring bonfire and traditional tents.  

 

 

Rodriguez also took to social media to post a loving message for Ronaldo’s birthday. “Happy days to the love of my life. In love with you and what we are together,” wrote the Argentine model. 

After scoring his first goal for Al-Nassr last week, Ronaldo will be next seen in action on Thursday against Al-Wehda in a Saudi Pro League match. 


Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai
Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

DUBAI: Hollywood actor and DJ Idris Elba is set to headline the Dubai edition of global techno and house music festival Elrow XXL on Feb. 17, it was announced on Monday.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world, including Coachella, Sound in Los Angeles and Output in New York. His UK apperances include Ministry of Sound in London, as well as both the Creamfields and Glastonbury festivals.

A map of the Dubai edition shared by the festival on social media. (Instagram)

His appearance at the Elrow XXL marks his first time performing in the Middle East.

Elrow XXL will be held at Dubai Design District on Feb. 17 and 18.

The festival has previously been staged in 84 cities across 34 countries, including London, Barcelona, Ibiza, Amsterdam, Madrid, Las Vegas, Antwerp, Frankfurt  and New York.

“I love Dubai. And I love playing Elrow shows. I’m looking forward to this one a lot,” Elba said in a released statement.

Apart from Elba, the festival features a lineup of international DJs and artists, including Armand Van Helden, Sam Devine, Sonny Fodera, Alisha, Arielle Free, R3WIRE, Wade and Chelina Manuhutu.


Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival
Updated 06 February 2023

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

DUBAI: Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy’s “Feathers” took home the Best Film prize at the 5th Joburg Film Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, this weekend.  

The much-awarded film was the winner of Cannes Critics’ Week in 2021 and bagged awards at the El-Gouna Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival and Pingyao Film Festival, as well as last year’s Rabat International Author Film Festival. 

“The jury process for 2023’s Joburg Film Festival was an amazing meeting of minds of a highly experienced and diverse African team of filmmakers,” said juror Njoki Muhoho, according to Variety.  

“During the deliberations, the diversity of knowledge and skills in storytelling came into play. The respect for fellow filmmakers’ craft was evidenced in the discipline and attention in which we screened and watched the films,” Muhoho added.