What is hope? Khalil Gibran wrote of it as “seeds dreaming beneath the snow” and to “trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.” Vogue Arabia invites regional creatives to interpret the theme, resulting in the birth of new, optimistic imagery to mark the times.
Lebanese fashion photographer based in Mansoura, Lebanon
“It’s getting harder to be hopeful within a society that likes to be sad. Hope is a restart, a better and simpler restart, and it’s also encouraging your friends, and smiling when you’re upset. Hope is going for a walk when you’re not in the mood and returning home more positive. Hope is also a cute cat video.”
Indian photographer and filmmaker based in Dubai
It is not normalcy that I hope to return to.
I hope to return to a world that has healed.
A world where people are given fair and equal opportunities.
A world, which is aware of its shortcomings and constantly strives to do better.
A world where greed and disdain are replaced by empathy and brotherhood.
I hope to return to a world that has healed.
Where people marry for love.
Where loyalty isn’t fragile.
Where compassion reigns supreme.
It is not normalcy that I hope to return to.
I hope to return to a world that has healed.”
Saudi artist based in Switzerland
“My painting Yellow Submarine is part of the series After the Rain, which I produced over the past three months, during the peak of the global pandemic. I created an entire universe, a cosmos to be absorbed into. A series of worlds, within a series of universes, layers and layers deep. Through color, form, and movement, I invite viewers to transform the collective grief of the world and offer a brief respite from the discomfort to broadcast a message of hope, connection, and lightness. I share in the common experience of uncertainty and fear that has engendered the world. I’ve witnessed first-hand how this pandemic threatens to tear our social fabric apart, not from loss of life and economic productivity alone, but from the rupturing of daily norms and pleasures that we take for granted. Nature is healing, the skies breathing again, and our shared experience of the world has unified us, bringing us all closer together. I fundamentally believe in the power of art to uplift and inspire – to alter the chemical balance in your mind to release serotonin and bring the body and soul euphoria. I paint to remind us all that after the rain, comes sunshine.”
Yellow Submarine by Abdullah Qandeel
Size: 3 x 1.8 m
Medium: oil on canvas
Series: After the Rain
Provenance: Private collection Geneva
Ghaida Al Ghanim
“This art resembles what we are going through. There will always be light, even in the darkest places. Whatever it is that we may be battling with, whether it is racism, Covid-19, mental health issues, suicidal thoughts, family loss, or even seeing loved ones experience a chronic illness, I want everyone to know that we are strong and we will all persevere. When we are knocked down, we will always rise back up higher.”
Moroccan fashion designer, creative director, and photographer based in Marrakech
“Hope means to look far, find the beauty and the color in the future to come.”
Saudi fashion photographer based in Riyadh
What’s a better representation of hope than unity? When we get together and connect, despite our differences and disagreements, that’s hope to me… To always see the bigger picture. To be hopeful is to be human! To lose it is to lose a part of our identity.”
Lamya Hussain Gargash
Emirati photographer and visual artist based in Dubai
“My wedding gown. A few days before lockdown, we rushed to move into my new place. When the hectic mood died down, it hit me that I have not touched, let alone seen my wedding gown since the day I got married almost a decade ago. I decided that it was time I bring it home. When I removed the box’s cover, a stream of folds, intricate embroidery, beads, and fabric cascaded out. It was both beautiful and poetic, symbolizing the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter. It was both an emblem of light and hope celebrating major events in my life and is now a testimony of life’s transient nature. It has been my beam of hope, once celebrating a major chapter in life and now a beacon of hope assuring me that events in life may be temperamental, but nothing is indefinite, and one should also try and remain hopeful. Life is made of chapters and every chapter tells a different story. Hopefully, this one will subside soon.”
Moroccan visual artist based in Paris
“In the Absence of Evidence to the Contrary is a sculptural installation representing the hope for which the light is the medium that can illuminate us in this obscure and dark time. It is composed of dozens of fluorescent lights extending from the ceiling down to the floor. This luminescent structure stretches upwards like a tree while the horizontal neon lights spread across the floor, grounding the structure like roots. On each tube, different phrases are written in English or Arabic from Surah 24 of the Qu’ran, entitled The Light. We can therefore discern adages or moral imperatives praising a transcendent and omniscient God, as well as the way in which he is associated with the symbolism of light. Notably in verse 36, it is written, ‘God is the light of the heavens and the earth. An image for his light is a niche in which there is a lamp placed in a glass. The glass is like a shining star, which is lit from a blessed olive tree that is neither eastern nor western. Its oil seems to light up even though it has not been touched by the fire.’
Moroccan photographer based in Marrakech
“Hope is a very big word. Bigger than all the words. But to be honest, my dreams are bigger still. It is said that a person needs three things to achieve true happiness in life: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. My three things are my siblings, our rooftop, and photography.”
Belgian artist photographer based in Belgium
“It took me a couple of days to come up with an idea around the theme of hope. Then the world started burning up. Figuratively, that is. Police killed Black people, again; the people of Yemen are dying and starving; my mom’s sister was diagnosed with brain cancer… It was a lot to handle. I didn’t feel hopeful at all. I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to these things and my biggest weakness is seeing my mom sad. Normally, she is the one I go to when I feel sad about the sorrow in the world. However, I do feel that a lot of people need to see hope, and feel positivity and love. The image I created is my personal definition of hope. When I feel hopeless, I visit my mother because the purest form of love is that which a mother gives to her children. A mother benefits from nothing when she holds you and says, ‘No worries my baby, everything will be OK.’ And no other person can say these words that give you that feeling– it’s unconditional. That’s how it feels right now. The world needs a big hug from a mother and the purest kind of love.”
Egyptian fashion and commercial photographer, based in Cairo
“Since school days, whenever we had any story or project related to hope, peace, or freedom, a white dove was always the first thing mentioned as a symbol and it was the first thing that entered my mind and vision. Regarding the Bedouin outfit, I’ve always admired them because they are one of the Arabian tribes that are still sticking to their traditions and culture, and they have the smell of the desert, which I adore.”
Sumayyah Al Suwaidi
Emirati artist based in Abu Dhabi
“Hope is the most important aspect of life. Without hope, we will never look forward to tomorrow and a brighter future. Without it, we will never strive to make our lives better, for ourselves, for our loved ones, and the entire world that we live in. In this artwork, the combination of the fish and the fishing hook is a resemblance of hope. Like when someone goes fishing in the hope to catch a fish, she goes prepared, or else, she will never catch anything. A person must get herself ready and prepared and do whatever she must do to succeed and leave the rest to the universe and hope that it works. The wings in this artwork resemble freedom of thought as there are no limits and no boundaries to one’s imagination.”
Egyptian director and photographer based in Paris
“‘Hope in our world is that small window that no matter how much smaller it gets, it opens bigger opportunities.’ – Mostafa El Rafey, Egyptian poet. Almost 50% of Egyptians live in poverty. They do not get to experience small life pleasures like getting a fresh haircut. Girls, above all, grow up in a community that forces them to not be groomed to avoid being harassed by men. This image represents a girl who got her first haircut ever. She could not believe herself and had a boost of energy that caused all the kids around to join. With the aim of bringing some hope to the children of Cairo, I invited my talented French hairstylist friend Sabrina Lefebvre to help provide glam haircuts so I could portray the children of Boulaq district on film. Cairo-based artist Abdo Mohamed provided the calligraphy. The district has been facing demolitions and buildings collapsing with a plan to rebuild the area as a financial hub. In a few months, most of these kids will not have a roof over their heads. After living in Europe for the past 15 years, I recently decided to shift my focus to the Middle East and the heritage that represents me. In the past year I’ve started documenting unique Arab cultures, in particular kids, to provide a safer platform for them and raise awareness of how important it is to invest in the young for a better tomorrow.”
Originally published in the September 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia