Pakistani artist Soraya Sikander. Ravindranath K / The National
Pakistani artist Soraya Sikander. Ravindranath K / The National

Artist Soraya Sikander on painting: ‘No city could be more rewarding than Ras Al Khaimah’



Soraya Sikander, who was born in Karachi and moved to the UAE two years ago, has always been immersed in art and her mother founded the Unicorn art gallery in Pakistan in 2004.

Sikander, 33, tells The National about her thoughts on abstract art, and why Ras Al Khaimah's beautiful landscapes and seascapes continue to inspire her.

What inspired you to become an artist?

For my family, work and travel are interlinked. I grew up in many different countries and, from a young age, I visited every major art museum in Europe. I remember studying the work of the French impressionists keenly, particularly their use of light. I began my formal training in Lahore and then I went on to study in London. I remember always wanting to paint places I had travelled to, but in my own particular style, as narration, a way of telling stories through pictures.

Do you find the UAE inspiring?

For a landscape and seascape painter, no city could be more rewarding than Ras Al Khaimah. I first visited in 2011; my mother was curating an art exhibition here, and I remember being stunned by the landscapes, the desert, mangroves and the ­Jebel Jais Mountains – the visual imageries. I knew I would come back. Since we moved here, I have exhibited at the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival at the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah. The art scene is emerging, with the most engaging, dynamic, and ­diverse group of fine-art ­practitioners making their ­presence felt.

Would you agree that your work is mostly abstract?

I don’t see my work as abstract. These are contemporary landscapes and they are simplified. When I paint a picture, for me, I see it first as simply light and shade – and then form takes over. Traditionally, landscape paintings are almost always ­classified as either semi-abstract, or semi-realist. As far as my practice goes, I think the work may perhaps best be described as ­unclassifiable.

You work in many different ­mediums – what is your ­preferred medium and why?

I enjoy the rich quality of oil paints. One can really create mood and dramatic lighting and, having studied the old masters, I think oil paints reign supreme. Acrylics also have a luminescent quality and they’re convenient. For sketching, I work with pencil or charcoal. I consider my ink work to be paintings and not drawings.

You have said that the flower paintings you did in Pakistan helped to promote tolerance and non-violence. In what way?

I think for anyone concerned about social issues, it is difficult not to respond. When you live in a country fighting a war, you cannot be ignorant of the effects it has on society. Being a painter, my response was visual – but I wasn’t interested painting images of death, blood and gore. That achieves nothing. Rather, I wanted to use my work to start a dialogue and, at the same time, send a message. I thought the symbols of flowers were most effective. It is non-preachy, subtle and has a universal poetic quality to it. Flowers act as a positive reinforcement to get the audience’s attention, and at the same time offer sanity in the midst of crisis. And most importantly, since most art is deeply personal, ­coming from a personal space, for me, painting flowers in the midst of chaos and destruction was a self-­preservation thing. It’s how I expressed and saved myself.

Where can we see your work?

My upcoming exhibitions ­include a showing at the Pakistan High Commission in London and a solo exhibit at Unicorn Gallery in November 2016. Other shows are in the pipeline, and dates are yet to be announced. I regularly post news, info and updates on my website – I find the internet to be one of the most accessible and democratic ­mediums for artists.

aseaman@thenational.ae

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

2021 World Triathlon Championship Series

May 15: Yokohama, Japan
June 5: Leeds, UK
June 24: Montreal, Canada
July 10: Hamburg, Germany
Aug 17-22: Edmonton, Canada (World Triathlon Championship Final)
Nov 5-6 : Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date TBC: Chengdu, China

The specs: 2018 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Cabriolet

Price, base: Dh429,090

Engine 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission Seven-speed automatic

Power 510hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque 700Nm @ 1,750rpm

Fuel economy, combined 9.2L / 100km

The specs

Engine: two permanent magnet synchronous motors
Transmission: two-speed
Power: 625hp
Torque: 850Nm
Range: 456km
Price: from Dh737,480
On sale: now

Tank warfare

Lt Gen Erik Petersen, deputy chief of programs, US Army, has argued it took a+“three decade holiday” on modernising tanks. 

“There clearly remains a significant armoured heavy ground manoeuvre threat in this world and maintaining a world class armoured force is absolutely vital,” the general said in London last week.

“We are developing next generation capabilities to compete with and deter adversaries to prevent opportunism or miscalculation, and, if necessary, defeat any foe decisively.”

The low down

Producers: Uniglobe Entertainment & Vision Films

Director: Namrata Singh Gujral

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Nargis Fakhri, Bo Derek, Candy Clark

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 194hp at 5,600rpm

Torque: 275Nm from 2,000-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Price: from Dh155,000

On sale: now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”

Most F1 world titles

7 — Michael Schumacher (1994, ’95, 2000, ’01 ’02, ’03, ’04)

7 — Lewis Hamilton (2008, ’14,’15, ’17, ’18, ’19, ’20)

5 — Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, ’54, ’55, ’56, ’57)

4 — Alain Prost (1985, ’86, ’89, ’93)

4 — Sebastian Vettel (2010, ’11, ’12, ’13)

Ovo's tips to find extra heat
  • Open your curtains when it’s sunny
  • Keep your oven open after cooking
  • Have a cuddle with pets and loved ones to help stay cosy
  • Eat ginger but avoid chilli as it makes you sweat
  • Put on extra layers
  • Do a few star jumps
  • Avoid alcohol
UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Pari

Produced by: Clean Slate Films (Anushka Sharma, Karnesh Sharma) & KriArj Entertainment

Director: Prosit Roy

Starring: Anushka Sharma, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Ritabhari Chakraborty, Rajat Kapoor, Mansi Multani

Three stars

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Cry Macho

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam

Rating:**

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

One-off T20 International: UAE v Australia

When: Monday, October 22, 2pm start

Where: Abu Dhabi Cricket, Oval 1

Tickets: Admission is free

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Darcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa, Peter Siddle

UAE v West Indies

First ODI - Sunday, June 4
Second ODI - Tuesday, June 6
Third ODI - Friday, June 9

Matches at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. All games start at 4.30pm

UAE squad
Muhammad Waseem (captain), Aayan Khan, Adithya Shetty, Ali Naseer, Ansh Tandon, Aryansh Sharma, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Ethan D’Souza, Fahad Nawaz, Jonathan Figy, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Lovepreet Singh, Matiullah, Mohammed Faraazuddin, Muhammad Jawadullah, Rameez Shahzad, Rohan Mustafa, Sanchit Sharma, Vriitya Aravind, Zahoor Khan

The Iron Claw

Director: Sean Durkin 

Starring: Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Maura Tierney, Holt McCallany, Lily James

Rating: 4/5

The biog

From: Upper Egypt

Age: 78

Family: a daughter in Egypt; a son in Dubai and his wife, Nabila

Favourite Abu Dhabi activity: walking near to Emirates Palace

Favourite building in Abu Dhabi: Emirates Palace

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

MATCH INFO

Inter Milan 2 (Vecino 65', Barella 83')

Verona 1 (Verre 19' pen)

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Power: 110 horsepower

Torque: 147Nm

Price: From Dh59,700

On sale: now

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
Signs of heat stroke
  • The loss of sodium chloride in our sweat can lead to confusion and an altered mental status and slurred speech
  • Body temperature above 39°C
  • Hot, dry and red or damp skin can indicate heatstroke
  • A faster pulse than usual
  • Dizziness, nausea and headaches are also signs of overheating
  • In extreme cases, victims can lose consciousness and require immediate medical attention
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Cofe

Year started: 2018

Based: UAE

Employees: 80-100

Amount raised: $13m

Investors: KISP ventures, Cedar Mundi, Towell Holding International, Takamul Capital, Dividend Gate Capital, Nizar AlNusif Sons Holding, Arab Investment Company and Al Imtiaz Investment Group 

A little about CVRL

Founded in 1985 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) is a government diagnostic centre that provides testing and research facilities to the UAE and neighbouring countries.

One of its main goals is to provide permanent treatment solutions for veterinary related diseases. 

The taxidermy centre was established 12 years ago and is headed by Dr Ulrich Wernery. 

FINAL RESULT

Sharjah Wanderers 20 Dubai Tigers 25 (After extra-time)

Wanderers
Tries: Gormley, Penalty
cons: Flaherty
Pens: Flaherty 2

Tigers
Tries: O’Donnell, Gibbons, Kelly
Cons: Caldwell 2
Pens: Caldwell, Cross

Timeline

1947
Ferrari’s road-car company is formed and its first badged car, the 125 S, rolls off the assembly line

1962
250 GTO is unveiled

1969
Fiat becomes a Ferrari shareholder, acquiring 50 per cent of the company

1972
The Fiorano circuit, Ferrari’s racetrack for development and testing, opens

1976
First automatic Ferrari, the 400 Automatic, is made

1987
F40 launched

1988
Enzo Ferrari dies; Fiat expands its stake in the company to 90 per cent

2002
The Enzo model is announced

2010
Ferrari World opens in Abu Dhabi

2011
First four-wheel drive Ferrari, the FF, is unveiled

2013
LaFerrari, the first Ferrari hybrid, arrives

2014
Fiat Chrysler announces the split of Ferrari from the parent company

2015
Ferrari launches on Wall Street

2017
812 Superfast unveiled; Ferrari celebrates its 70th anniversary

Marathon results

Men:

1. Titus Ekiru(KEN) 2:06:13 

2. Alphonce Simbu(TAN) 2:07:50 

3. Reuben Kipyego(KEN) 2:08:25 

4. Abel Kirui(KEN) 2:08:46 

5. Felix Kemutai(KEN) 2:10:48  

Women:

1. Judith Korir(KEN) 2:22:30 

2. Eunice Chumba(BHR) 2:26:01 

3. Immaculate Chemutai(UGA) 2:28:30 

4. Abebech Bekele(ETH) 2:29:43 

5. Aleksandra Morozova(RUS) 2:33:01  

The language of diplomacy in 1853

Treaty of Peace in Perpetuity Agreed Upon by the Chiefs of the Arabian Coast on Behalf of Themselves, Their Heirs and Successors Under the Mediation of the Resident of the Persian Gulf, 1853
(This treaty gave the region the name “Trucial States”.)


We, whose seals are hereunto affixed, Sheikh Sultan bin Suggar, Chief of Rassool-Kheimah, Sheikh Saeed bin Tahnoon, Chief of Aboo Dhebbee, Sheikh Saeed bin Buyte, Chief of Debay, Sheikh Hamid bin Rashed, Chief of Ejman, Sheikh Abdoola bin Rashed, Chief of Umm-ool-Keiweyn, having experienced for a series of years the benefits and advantages resulting from a maritime truce contracted amongst ourselves under the mediation of the Resident in the Persian Gulf and renewed from time to time up to the present period, and being fully impressed, therefore, with a sense of evil consequence formerly arising, from the prosecution of our feuds at sea, whereby our subjects and dependants were prevented from carrying on the pearl fishery in security, and were exposed to interruption and molestation when passing on their lawful occasions, accordingly, we, as aforesaid have determined, for ourselves, our heirs and successors, to conclude together a lasting and inviolable peace from this time forth in perpetuity.

Taken from Britain and Saudi Arabia, 1925-1939: the Imperial Oasis, by Clive Leatherdale

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