The Belgium-born artist Sarah Sillis in her home studio in the Al Reef area of Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Christopher Pike / The National
The Belgium-born artist Sarah Sillis in her home studio in the Al Reef area of Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Christopher Pike / The National

Belgian artist feels need to spell it all out – in Arabic



The painting spells out the word hob, which means love in Arabic. The shape of the letter H begins the word and the corresponding swoop that leads into the letter B forms a heart before concluding at the dot, which in Arabic identifies the letter’s sound.

It is an artistic work that clearly bears the mark of a trained calligrapher. However, it may come as a surprise to the viewer to find out that the artist is not a native Arabic speaker. Sarah Sillis is from Belgium and, although she has lived in the UAE for more than 12 years, when she arrived, she didn’t know one word or letter of the language.

Now, however, from her studio at her Abu Dhabi home, she paints colourful calligraphic paintings for herself, her friends and private clients, as well as decorative pieces and abstract works without lettering.

“I’ve been painting all my life,” she says. “I started with pencil drawing, but I was very bad at traditional figures and animals and was drawn to abstracts or geometrical forms.”

After moving to Dubai in 2002 to work for Emirates, Sillis spent a lot of time in Sharjah exploring the art district.

It was then that she wandered into the atelier of Khalifa El Shimy, a well-known Egyptian artist who specialises in calligraphy and who works as a professional artist for the government of Sharjah.

“As soon as I saw his work, I thought it was amazing and so beautiful,” says Sillis.

El Shimy, noticing her passion and interest, offered to teach Sillis the basics of calligraphy.

She started visiting his studio and began learning the letters. For more than four years, she visited him weekly, sometimes several times a week, and would paint alongside El Shimy, who constantly guided and trained her.

“It was so much fun, I loved it,” she says. “It was thanks to him that I learnt all I know about calligraphy.”

In 2007, Sillis left the UAE and moved to Kuwait for a year; when she returned to Dubai, she made her first sale.

“I never even thought about selling my paintings because I was just doing them for fun, but one day one of my colleagues said he really liked three of my works and wanted to buy them for his house.”

Pleasantly surprised, Sillis agreed and from then on, other people started calling and asking her to paint for them and it turned into a small enterprise.

“I still never tried to sell,” she says. “I am much more creative than I am commercial, especially when it comes to my art.”

Although she maintained a full-time job, Sillis’s career as an artist continued to grow and she also branched out into another side business – selling Islamic swimwear.

Sillis converted to Islam when she was 16 and religion has played an important role in her life.

However, when it comes to her art, she does not only paint religious symbols.

“I paint them because they interest me, but I also do many other types of painting,” she explains. “For example, since I first started painting, I have been painting mandalas. Now I lead classes in these at the Dubai meditation centre.”

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Simran

Director Hansal Mehta

Stars: Kangana Ranaut, Soham Shah, Esha Tiwari Pandey

Three stars

Results:

6.30pm: Handicap (Turf) | US$175,000 2,410m | Winner: Bin Battuta, Christophe Soumillon (jockey), Saeed bin Suroor (trainer)

7.05pm: UAE 1000 Guineas Trial Conditions (Dirt) | $100,000 1,400m | Winner: Al Hayette, Fabrice Veron, Ismail Mohammed

7.40pm: Handicap (T) $145,000 1,000m | Winner: Faatinah, Jim Crowley, David Hayes

8.15pm: Dubawi Stakes Group 3 (D) $200,000 1,200m | Winner: Raven’s Corner, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar

8.50pm: Singspiel Stakes Group 3 (T) $200,000 1,800m | Winner: Dream Castle, Christophe Soumillon, Saeed bin Suroor

9.25pm: Handicap (T) $175,000 1,400m​​​ | Winner: Another Batt, Connor Beasley, George Scott

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Results

2pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m, Winner: AF Thayer, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer).

2.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,200m, Winner: AF Sahwa, Nathan Crosse, Mohamed Ramadan.

3pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,000m, Winner: AF Thobor, Szczepan Mazur, Ernst Oertel.

3.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 2,000m, Winner: AF Mezmar, Szczepan Mazur, Ernst Oertel.

4pm: Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup presented by Longines (TB) Dh 200,000 (D) 1,700m, Winner: Galvanize, Nathan Cross, Doug Watson.

4.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh 40,000 (D) 1,700m, Winner: Ajaj, Bernardo Pinheiro, Mohamed Daggash.

The specs: 2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

Price: base / as tested: From Dh632,225

Engine: 5.2-litre V10

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 540hp @ 8,250rpm

Torque: 540Nm @ 6,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.4L / 100km

Blonde

Director: Andrew Dominik
Stars: Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale
Rating: 3/5

Ballon d’Or shortlists

Men

Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Aregentina/Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Netherlans/Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (France/Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Serbia/Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (France/PSG), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England/Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Netherlands/Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Arsenal), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany/Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Juventus), Alisson (Brazil/Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands/Juventus), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands/Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Portugal/Manchester City), Son Heung-min (South Korea/Tottenham), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich), Roberto Firmino (Brazil/Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal/Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (France/Barcelona), Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool), Eden Hazard (BEL/Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Brazil/Paris-SG), Raheem Sterling (Eengland/Manchester City), Joao Félix(Portugal/Atletico Madrid)

Women

Sam Kerr (Austria/Chelsea), Ellen White (England/Manchester City), Nilla Fischer (Sweden/Linkopings), Amandine Henry (France/Lyon), Lucy Bronze(England/Lyon), Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany/Lyon), Pernille Harder (Denmark/Wolfsburg), Sarah Bouhaddi (France/Lyon), Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC), Lieke Martens (Netherlands/Barcelona), Sari van Veenendal (Netherlands/Atletico Madrid), Wendie Renard (France/Lyon), Rose Lavelle(USA/Washington Spirit), Marta (Brazil/Orlando Pride), Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Lyon), Kosovare Asllani (Sweden/CD Tacon), Sofia Jakobsson (Sweden/CD Tacon), Tobin Heath (USA/Portland Thorns)

 

 

Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Mina Cup winners

Under 12 – Minerva Academy

Under 14 – Unam Pumas

Under 16 – Fursan Hispania

Under 18 – Madenat

J Street Polling Results

97% of Jewish-Americans are concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism

76% of US Jewish voters believe Donald Trump and his allies in the Republican Party are responsible for a rise in anti-Semitism

74% of American Jews agreed that “Trump and the Maga movement are a threat to Jews in America"

MATCH INFO

Everton 0

Manchester City 2 (Laporte 45+2', Jesus 90+7')

Dr Amal Khalid Alias revealed a recent case of a woman with daughters, who specifically wanted a boy.

A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

Out of 21 eggs collected, six were unused leaving 15 suitable for IVF.

A specific procedure was used, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm cell is inserted into the egg.

On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 

THE BIO

Favourite car: Koenigsegg Agera RS or Renault Trezor concept car.

Favourite book: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes or Red Notice by Bill Browder.

Biggest inspiration: My husband Nik. He really got me through a lot with his positivity.

Favourite holiday destination: Being at home in Australia, as I travel all over the world for work. It’s great to just hang out with my husband and family.

 

 

On the menu

First course

▶ Emirati sea bass tartare Yuzu and labneh mayo, avocado, green herbs, fermented tomato water  

▶ The Tale of the Oyster Oyster tartare, Bahraini gum berry pickle

Second course

▶ Local mackerel Sourdough crouton, baharat oil, red radish, zaatar mayo

▶ One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Quail, smoked freekeh, cinnamon cocoa

Third course

▶ Bahraini bouillabaisse Venus clams, local prawns, fishfarm seabream, farro

▶ Lamb 2 ways Braised lamb, crispy lamb chop, bulgur, physalis

Dessert

▶ Lumi Black lemon ice cream, pistachio, pomegranate

▶ Black chocolate bar Dark chocolate, dates, caramel, camel milk ice cream
 

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Uefa Nations League: How it works

The Uefa Nations League, introduced last year, has reached its final stage, to be played over five days in northern Portugal. The format of its closing tournament is compact, spread over two semi-finals, with the first, Portugal versus Switzerland in Porto on Wednesday evening, and the second, England against the Netherlands, in Guimaraes, on Thursday.

The winners of each semi will then meet at Porto’s Dragao stadium on Sunday, with the losing semi-finalists contesting a third-place play-off in Guimaraes earlier that day.

Qualifying for the final stage was via League A of the inaugural Nations League, in which the top 12 European countries according to Uefa's co-efficient seeding system were divided into four groups, the teams playing each other twice between September and November. Portugal, who finished above Italy and Poland, successfully bid to host the finals.

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Gold
Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Silver
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Bronze
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

CREW

Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5

Not Dark Yet

Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer

Four stars

The specs: Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 hybrid
Power: 680hp
Torque: 930Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Price: From Dh749,000
On sale: Now

The specs: 2024 Panamera

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 353hp
Torque: 500Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Price: From Dh408,200
On sale: Now

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

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