Dubai illustrator Nourie Flayhan creates art in tribute to three Arab women killed by men

Lebanese artist said she was 'deeply disturbed' by the recent killings and wanted to keep the conversation around violence against women going

Nourie Flayhan's illustrated tributes to Nayera Ashraf, Iman Rashid and Lubna Mansour, who were killed in June 2022. Photo: Nourie Flayhan / Instagram
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After a week of shocking violence against Arab women, Nourie Flayhan is turning to art to make a stand.

The Lebanese illustrator, 31, who lives in Dubai, has created a series of portraits, showing the faces of the three women from around the Arab world, who were killed in recent days.

The first, Nayera Ashraf, was a student at Egypt’s Mansoura University. On June 20, Ashraf, aged 21, had her throat slit in front of hundreds of horrified onlookers.

Three days later, on June 23, Iman Rashid, 21, was shot dead on campus at the Applied Science Private University in Amman. Her killer, a man in his late thirties who police identified as Oday Hassan, shot himself days after the attack and died later in hospital.

And on June 24, Lubna Mansour, an engineering student from Jordan, was stabbed to death as she got into her car close to her home in Sharjah. The perpetrator fled the scene in her car, with her body inside, and was caught by police hours later. While police have not identified the killer, they said the man admitted killing the woman owing to what he said was a "personal dispute".

Flayhan was inspired to pay tribute to all three women after hearing their stories, creating an illustration for each, which have since been liked and shared hundreds of times across social media.

“Whenever I hear or read of a story that deeply impacts me, I create art to raise awareness and spread the stories of the voiceless around,” she tells The National. “I was deeply disturbed by the series of killings and felt I had to use my platform to talk about them.”

Flayhan’s work, which she has been creating since 2014, is often inspired by the stories of women and women’s rights in the region.

“Honestly, the news hit a lot of people hard and shook a lot of people,” she says. “People have been sharing the portraits and opening conversations on their platforms, and in turn, have inspired other artists from the region to use their platforms too to create and share their art.”

Each picture shows the face of the women, drawn in fine line pen, surrounded by a blue background covered with a floral design. Each has attracted hundreds of comments, with people sharing tributes and heartfelt messages for the women.

“It’s been humbling for sure to see,” Flayhan says. “I’m just so glad people are talking about the violence women are facing.”

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Updated: June 28, 2022, 2:07 PM