Kareem Risan in his studio in Toronto. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Kareem Risan in his studio in Toronto. Courtesy of Meem Gallery

Kareem Risan’s art of emigration



In Kareem Risan's painting Entry To Paradise, his characters are lined up, papers in hand, arms outstretched waiting for the ethereal figure in white to grant them entry. The figure and the painting's title clearly allude to a spiritual dimension. But, given the exhibition's title – Steps in Migration – it also has another meaning.

“Some people really believe that they will be entering paradise by emigrating to a certain country,” says Risan. “But for myself, I did not choose it. I was forced and it was certainly not paradise for me.”

Steps in Migration opened in early December in Dubai's Meem Gallery. It is Risan's first solo show with the gallery, although he has been working with them for a number of years. Tha artist, who has laboured over the works for more than a year, admits that it is a personal show, one that reveals his deepest struggles.

“All the show is my story. When I left my country and went to Canada, I struggled with many things: language, community, society and my health. I had many problems and my only form of expression was in painting.”

Risan and his family left Iraq in 2006 during the war. They travelled to Syria and eventually, in 2008, settled in Canada.

Shocked by the climate and the culture, Risan says he had so many questions that urged him to explore them through his art. “The answers have not yet been decided but my questions have profoundly affected my artistic practice,” he says.

The figures in Entry to Paradise are repeated across the show: men and women with blank faces and distorted limbs. In the centre of each is a figure of Risan himself – represented as a wooden mannequin or as a figure with glasses and a green hat.

In Man is Not Made to Live Below Zero, the mannequin is losing his limbs, and the head of a man with a green hat floats in the top right-hand corner.

“The snow and the freezing ice broke me,” says Risan. “And the many question marks in the painting show my confusion.”

But the message of his art goes beyond the issue of acclimatisation – there also is an overriding theme of miscommunication. In many of Risan’s works, microphones and loose wires appear randomly, while light bulbs are drawn but remain unlit.

When he arrived in Canada, Risan's words went unheard, his talent unnoticed. His piece No One Hears Me exemplifies this perfectly. Risan's character sits in the centre of the frame talking into an unplugged microphone with an empty speech bubble next to his mouth. His character has two ears on one side of his head, to signify careful listening, but the voice is muted.

“The figure is very simple but the emotions are very present – the expressions show it all. I don’t need details of the figure to show how I was feeling,” he says.

Alongside the paintings hangs a collection of ink-on-paper artworks, collectively titled Memories of Cold Nights. The artist, who drew them "during sleepless nights", says working on paper gave him more freedom .

“The years I spent in Canada have changed my heart a little, they have pushed me to expressing myself more through my art,” he says.

The distorted limbs and ­double-eared characters are recurring motifs in this series, too, and are somehow more magnified in black and white. The drawings help highlight Risan’s struggle, while the paintings bring colour and scale.

The raw emotion in Risan's art make Steps in Migration an absorbing experience not only for those who have gone through displacement or forced migration, but also those who haven't.

Steps In Migration is on till January 10 at Meem Gallery, Dubai

aseaman@thenational.ae

At Everton Appearances: 77; Goals: 17

At Manchester United Appearances: 559; Goals: 253

UAE'S YOUNG GUNS

1 Esha Oza, age 26, 79 matches

2 Theertha Satish, age 20, 66 matches

3 Khushi Sharma, age 21, 65 matches

4 Kavisha Kumari, age 21, 79 matches

5 Heena Hotchandani, age 23, 16 matches

6 Rinitha Rajith, age 18, 34 matches

7 Samaira Dharnidharka, age 17, 53 matches

8 Vaishnave Mahesh, age 17, 68 matches

9 Lavanya Keny, age 17, 33 matches

10 Siya Gokhale, age 18, 33 matches

11 Indhuja Nandakumar, age 18, 46 matches

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Courtesy: Carol Glynn

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

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Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
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Sector: FinTech
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Current number of staff: 86
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Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

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1888

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.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Another way to earn air miles

In addition to the Emirates and Etihad programmes, there is the Air Miles Middle East card, which offers members the ability to choose any airline, has no black-out dates and no restrictions on seat availability. Air Miles is linked up to HSBC credit cards and can also be earned through retail partners such as Spinneys, Sharaf DG and The Toy Store.

An Emirates Dubai-London round-trip ticket costs 180,000 miles on the Air Miles website. But customers earn these ‘miles’ at a much faster rate than airline miles. Adidas offers two air miles per Dh1 spent. Air Miles has partnerships with websites as well, so booking.com and agoda.com offer three miles per Dh1 spent.

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Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Dhadak

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3

Company profile

Company name: Nestrom

Started: 2017

Co-founders: Yousef Wadi, Kanaan Manasrah and Shadi Shalabi

Based: Jordan

Sector: Technology

Initial investment: Close to $100,000

Investors: Propeller, 500 Startups, Wamda Capital, Agrimatico, Techstars and some angel investors

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Favourite place in UAE: Al Rams pearling village

What one book should everyone read: Any book written before electricity was invented. When a writer willingly worked under candlelight, you know he/she had a real passion for their craft

Your favourite type of pearl: All of them. No pearl looks the same and each carries its own unique characteristics, like humans

Best time to swim in the sea: When there is enough light to see beneath the surface

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DOB: March 13, 1987
Place of birth: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but lived in Virginia in the US and raised in Lebanon
School: ACS in Lebanon
University: BSA in Graphic Design at the American University of Beirut
MSA in Design Entrepreneurship at the School of Visual Arts in New York City
Nationality: Lebanese
Status: Single
Favourite thing to do: I really enjoy cycling, I was a participant in Cycling for Gaza for the second time this year

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US tops drug cost charts

The study of 13 essential drugs showed costs in the United States were about 300 per cent higher than the global average, followed by Germany at 126 per cent and 122 per cent in the UAE.

Thailand, Kenya and Malaysia were rated as nations with the lowest costs, about 90 per cent cheaper.

In the case of insulin, diabetic patients in the US paid five and a half times the global average, while in the UAE the costs are about 50 per cent higher than the median price of branded and generic drugs.

Some of the costliest drugs worldwide include Lipitor for high cholesterol. 

The study’s price index placed the US at an exorbitant 2,170 per cent higher for Lipitor than the average global price and the UAE at the eighth spot globally with costs 252 per cent higher.

High blood pressure medication Zestril was also more than 2,680 per cent higher in the US and the UAE price was 187 per cent higher than the global price.

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