Category: 22

Winter Bloom (Al Layali Essoud الليالي السود  in Arabic) refers to that period stated in the Berber calendar from the 14th of January to the 2nd of February during which vegetation awakens from its hibernation state and starts blooming entering a new cycle, just like us humans go through emotional turmoil or sleeplessness before rising again and blossoming.


Winter Bloom began as a journey, a discovery, of the production process of nature. The Berber community used to refer to the agrarian calendar for their annual plantings, as the natural cycles had a significant impact on their food production.


While exploring the streets of Tunis in search of florist stores, I had the opportunity to talk about the “lyalli essoud“. I was taught that “a flower has a dream to bloom”. However, climate change is impacting this natural process, as in a warmer season, flowers bloom faster, and they also shed their natural color and smell.


Florists have this instinctive knowledge, inherited from the agrarian calendar, which was lost over time. It seems that people have forgotten how to live in accordance with their environment.


Throughout this work, I have found myself on the path of people working according to these forgotten cycles. They are instinctively aware of the adverse effects of climate change without being actively involved in the current awareness of this issue.


Souheila Ghorbel (1992) is a photographer who lives and works in Tunis, Tunisia.

Better known as Madame Ghorbelle, she can be described as an intuitive photomaker. She started photographing her friends using disposable cameras. Her eye then drifted to other subjects, and fed on the poetry of her surroundings, and her love for capturing moments has since grown significantly.

Souheila had her first solo show, Winter Bloom, in April 2021 in Tunis, Tunisia. An eponymous book was released through Local Groupe, an independent publishing house.

Recently, the artist took part in two group shows: Daily Cat Essen curated by Antwan Horfee in Gallery Ruttkowski 67 in Paris as well as Building Blocks at B7L9 in Tunis.

Her work appeared in the photobook edited by Estelle Marois, A Tunisian Tale alongside Tunisian artists and photographers.

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How often do you think about the textiles that are used in the outfits we wear everyday to cover our bodies?


Why exactly are we using these materials? Do we understand how they’re affecting our environment? Why are we relying on harmful fibres when textile technology is so advanced?


Alternatives exist, but there are manufacturers with too much control and too much money at stake. They don’t want to close their factories, so they keep doing what makes them money and in turn limit our choices. We are left to choose between what is affordable and what is good for the environment.


I am interested in the transformation of materials, and time. In the effect of our waste, especially our waste from fashion. In how we can rethink, reconsider and reuse what we have around us to create new ways of weaving…

Photo of Maha AlasakerMaha Alasaker is a visual artist based in Kuwait. She is a 2014 graduate from the International Center of Photography.

Through her artwork, Maha tries to gain a deeper understanding of herself while attempting to engage issues of culture and identity. Her curiosity centers around how a woman’s upbringing affects identity and self-worth.

Maha’s projects have been displayed in numerous exhibitions in New York City and London, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Marie Claire and Rolling Stone have featured her work.

In 2019, Maha published her first photo book, “Women of Kuwait”, which was then acquired by the Getty Research Institute and The Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
Photo: Unknown

Right over middle. Left over right. Right over left. Nine years of age, a little girl sat in my shadow, braiding her hair.

In the morning, she would stop by and pull the bobble off to show off her brown waves, but in the evening, to make her mom proud, she would gather the locks back and trap them in a tight braid. “Tidy hair, tidy mind,” her mom often said.

Eleven years of age, she would awake every morning to a fallen strand. The waves turned lank… and in my shadow today, the girl forever sleeps.

Are they mesmerized?

They take pictures and say it’s for the world to see. An olive tree burning on the inside. Mesmerizing.

But hasn’t the world seen the flames devour millions of my sisters along Syria’s coast, in its north, and in its south? Why open their eyes now when, for years, my roots have been feeding on diluted blood, my leaves have been inhaling toxic fumes, and my sunshine has been contaminated with radiation.

Are they mesmerized?

I burn for all the generations that won’t be born… for the life that will cease on this land. And I hold the whole world accountable.

They count the bombs, the fatalities, the casualties, the dollars, the wheat fields… and they speak of reconstruction – can they reconstruct the air? The water? The skies? The soil?

Can they reconstruct life?

They speak of cultural heritage, of the infrastructure, of the gas and the oil. They speak of the power,

of the roads, of livestock… but can this ever exist on a perished land?

Are they mesmerized?

They think the bombs were dropped on Syria alone. No. They’re in the skies… in the air… in their lungs, in their eyes… in all the coming generations. Have they thought to count the lives that won’t have a chance to live here… or anywhere else perhaps?

Are they mesmerized?

They won’t be when the waters rage and devour their homes… when the crops are scarce for all, when hearts are fickle, and when cities are walled.

They’re mesmerized now, but tomorrow, when they seek shelter, they’ll remember that I am shelter… they’ll come to realize there is no shelter when shelter is raging.

Are they mesmerized?

Has my picture made the frontpage? Has it gone viral? Has it won them ‘likes’ and ‘comments?’ Have they ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ it and written poetry and shed tears? Have they likened me to all the Syrians? To their society, to their hearts, to their land?

But have they thought of tomorrow?

Yes, a new day, and my picture is archived… but tomorrow is born of today, and today is born of yesterday.

They want power, oil, land… but have they forgotten it’s one land? If one garden withers, the next follows… and the next, and the next, and the next – until they live on a blazing ball.

I burn on the inside… and so does Mother. Are they mesmerized?

They set all my sisters on fire. They said, “Let it burn; it’s only Syria.” But those fumes travel in the air… into their lungs and into their eyes and into their bloodstream and into their hearts.

It’s not only Syria, it’s Earth… it’s their waters, its their skies.

All the chemicals dropped here will travel across the planet, and their children, like the Syrian girl who sleeps here, will lose their beautiful locks… and I hold the whole world accountable for this.

I burn on the inside… and so will all of them, but then it might be too late. Are they mesmerized?

They dropped their bombs in Syria, in Libya, in Tunisia, in Iraq, in Sudan, in Yemen… all for what? They say for the future generations… but will there be any riches and land left for them?

If anything, the future generations will curse them. Are they mesmerized?

Has Syria’s war been entertaining? Has it been the horn of plenty? Have they been profiting from all the destruction, displacement and death?

Let those idiots be mesmerized.

They wage wars over scarce resources, heedless their violence breeds nothing but further scarcity. Why not tend the land before it’s scorched? Why not look after trees before they’re ablaze, and then their fruit would be plentiful.

They wage wars on foreign land. Have they considered the carbon bootprint that shows no mercy to any land?

Let them be mesmerized.

Photo of Anan Tello
Photo: Susie Lawrence

Anan Tello is a Syrian journalist and playwright. She has an MA in Writing for Performance from the University of Leeds and is now doing a master’s in International Journalism at the same university. Her current creative practice focuses primarily on the Syrian cultural blend, the displacement experience, and attitudes towards the Syrian diaspora.


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Photo of Linda Mohamed

There was once an olive tree.

It sat at the top of the hill, among rows of sisters and brothers, silent, under the scorching sun.

Before there was fire, the fertile grove burst with joy. The harvesting seasons – gatherings of promises. The children climbed up its arms, their innocent palms pressed firmly into the bark. The mothers picked its fruit with callous fingers. A nativity scene.

There was once an olive tree. A construction site for a theme park is all that remains.




There was once a clean river.

It ran placidly through the Jordan Valley, through the Al-Auja village and the Wadi Auja spring. On summer evenings it was a golden river.

Before there was poison, the people of the village bathed in its waters. Echoes of laughter remained well after sunset, imprints of an embrace forever reflected in its surface. A stream of bliss.

There was once a river. Decaying cartons of American breakfast cereal is all that remains.




There was once a barley field.

A ten-hectare saffron ocean stretching outside the doors of Burin. A tender mother to the villagers – a family of ten, and then a family of nine, and one of seven, and another, and another.

Before there was concrete, the wind rustled through the spikes, a lullaby for those residing nearby. The assurance of comfort through the seasons.

There was once a barley field. Miles of barbed wire is all that remains.




There was once the Dead Sea.

A stretch of static liquid, a basin of jades. At its sides, all around, pink rocks. They stood tall against the sky, ethereal.

Before there was plastic, its banks were sacred. The women emerged from its waters with patterns of salt on their tanned skin, smiles on their dry lips.

There was once the Dead Sea. A members-only infinity pool is all that remains.



This is all that remains.

Photo of Linda MohamedLinda Mohamed is an Italian-Palestinian artist living in London. She holds a Joint BA in Journalism & Creative Writing and Politics from The University of Strathclyde. Before starting her current role in trade publishing, she worked across creative industries in journalism, magazine writing, podcasting and radio. In 2019, she hosted a creative writing workshop at the Dardishi Arab Arts Festival in Glasgow.





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Newspaper-style obituary for a ringed seal pup called Sloppy.
Newspaper-style obituary for a ringed seal pup called Sloppy.
Artwork: Nada Elkalaawy

Photo of Nada Elkalaawy

Nada Elkalaawy (b. Alexandria,1995) is an Egyptian-born London-based artist. Her practice is informed by her personal history dealing with loss, traces of memory and fiction. She predominantly works in painting, but often incorporates drawing, animation, and tapestry in conversation with the painterly medium. She received her MFA in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art (2018) and her BA in Fine Art from Kingston University (2016). Her solo shows include “Twofold” at Galerie DuflonRacz, Bern and “Watching Grass Grow” (online) with Gypsum gallery, Cairo (2021). Her work has been shown in several group exhibitions including Southwark Park Galleries, London; Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin; KINO DER KUNST, Munich; Shubbak Festival, London (2020); MASS Alexandria, Alexandria; Sharjah Art Gallery, Cairo; Medrar, Cairo (2019); Gypsum, Cairo; Rich Mix, London (2018); Nahim Isaias Museum, Guayaquil; The Refugees Museum, Thessaloniki; The Crypt Gallery, London (2017) and The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria (2016). She took part in the MASS Alexandria Studio Programme, Alexandria (2018) and will be participating in residencies at L’appartement 22, Rabat and Montresso Art Foundation, Marrakech (2022). She is currently an artist-in-residence at PROGR, Bern with Pro Helvetia. Elkalaawy has been shortlisted for the Dentons Art Prize and the Sarabande Emerging Art fund. She is one of five founding members of the artist group “K-oh-llective”, recipient of Mophradat’s Self-Organizations grant (2020), which aims to facilitate opportunities and collective conversations around art practices in Egypt and the Arab world.

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Photo of DUBAIS/Nadia Buyse

It’s “safe” to say we are living in a climate crisis… Why do I feel like my proximity to the solution is so far away? Why do I feel guilty? How can I be responsible when the same forces that marginalised people of the Global Majority also created structures where we are all reliant on hydrocarbon production to maintain socio-economic structures… particularly those of us from, or with connections to, the Middle East and North Africa? Also, WHY CAN’T I BUY A CUCUMBER NOT WRAPPED IN PLASTIC?


It’s “safe” to say we are living in a climate crisis… How do we protect our earth? How do we protect ourselves? How do we embody/care for that fear/anxiety/anger/sadness? How do we express that we, the people of the Global Majority, are intimidated by the “unbearable whiteness of green” which thinks “locally” and doesn’t speak for the native homes destroyed by colonial enterprise, war, and oppression.


It’s “safe” to say that we are living in a climate crisis… It’s not a question anymore. In 2018, I made a score book entitled “How to DIE/DIY” as a guide to create strategies for how we can approach our own inevitable mortality. With a verbal prompt and a visual landscape I frankensteined together from books left near dumpsters or bought for less than a quid at the charity shop, I offer provocations to the audience to create their own symphonies, arias, monologues, punk bands, etc.


I encourage you, dear, to respond/react/embody from the script I offer you… at the top of your lungs or from the bottom of your soul, use this invitation to express your feelings and your own proximity to crisis.


Thank you for being here.


[xoxo] DUBAIS

Photo of DUBAIS/Nadia Buyse
Photo: Devaki Jones

DUBAIS is a perpetually-changing concept band from visual artist, cultural activist, and musician Nadia Buyse. From absurd synth covers, to guitar ballads about dating the devil , to bedroom pop songs about murdering your lover, Nadia’s music jumps from genre to genre, being tied together by a DIY aesthetic and video art that spans over installation, performance, visual albums, experimental pop operas, etc. Although DUBAIS operates like a band, it’s actually a vehicle for conceptual work and cultural activism in which Nadia uses the tropes of pop music to examine Diasporic migration, neo-liberal dystopias, emotional incapacitations, consumer technologies, hybrid identities, intersectional feminism, and transnational communities. DUBAIS has released music, published text, taught a multitude of workshops, lectured, exhibited work, and performed internationally in a variety of spaces and places ranging from Conflict resolution Peace camps in Central Asia to dOCUMENTA (13).

Nadia is also currently in the punk band snoozers, a community artist at ONCA, and a part time tutor/ lecturer at BIMM in London.

Instagram: @DUBAIS

Bandcamp: DUBAIS / snoozers


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Photo of Farah Gabdon

(Click on the poem above to continue reading)


Written in reaction to the drought crisis that has plagued my home country on and off for the past 10 years, I was moved by the images coming out of Somalia and left feeling frustrated with the world’s silence and inaction in the face of climate change.

Photo of Farah Gabdon

Farah Gabdon is a performance poet, writer and English teacher from London, by way of Somalia. With a degree in Creative Writing, she has captivated audiences with her writing and performance poetry across London and Europe.




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Three young boys jumping in and swimming around the water in an oasis.
Three young boys jumping in and swimming around the water in an oasis.
Photo: M’Hammed Kilito
Landscape of an oasis facing desertification, where the sand is encroaching on formerly green palm forests
Photo: M’hammed Kilito
A burned car abandoned in an oasis facing desertification
Photo: M’Hammed Kilito

“Hooked to paradise” is an ongoing and long-term photographic series highlighting the complex and multidimensional issues of oasis degradation in Morocco and its impact on its inhabitants.


Desertification, recurrent droughts and fires, changes in oasis agricultural practices, urban migration and a sharp drop in the water table are among the imminent threats to the existence of oases.

Photo of M'hammed Kilito
Photo: Vladimir Gheorghiu

Morrocan photographer M’hammed Kilito focuses on capturing narratives that are embedded in understanding the relationship between his collaborators and their environments, by covering issues related to cultural identity, the sociology of work and climate change.

In 2021, M’hammed was selected by Ateliers Medicis to take part in the national photographic commission of Regards du Grand Paris. In 2020, M’hammed co-founded KOZ, a collective of four Moroccan visual artists working on long term projects and sharing a passion for storytelling. The same year, he was designated by the British Journal of Photography among the 18 best emerging photographers from across the globe to watch, was selected as a 6×6 Global Talent by World Press Photo, became a National Geographic Explorer, received The Photography Prize of the Fondation des Treilles and won the Prize for The Contemporary African Photography.

His work has been shown at festivals and venues including Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), Tate Modern (London), PhotoESPAÑA Festival (Madrid), National Museum of Photography (Rabat), Photo Vogue Festival (Milan) and Breda Photo Festival (Breda). His photographs have been featured in magazines and newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Monopol, L’Express and El Pais.

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Pop art-style digital illustration in greyscale. A hijab woman stares out while a burning planet Earth is reflected in her fashionable sunglasses.
Pop art-style digital illustration in greyscale. A hijab woman stares out while a burning planet Earth is reflected in her fashionable sunglasses.
Illustration: Tanya Shamil
Pop art-style digital illustration in greyscale. A crying woman stares into her phone while outside her window, an evil eye observes her.
Illustration: Tanya Shamil

“What if the species and civilisations on other planets have established contact with one another, but refrained from reaching out to Earth because they consider us to be the least evolved planet in the galaxy?”


A duo of digital illustrations questioning our societally-imposed values and accepted attitudes towards consumption.

Photo of Tanya Shamil

Tanya Shamil is a 19 year-old artist, also known as The Gluten Club. She started her career in the arts by creating and launching an app called “arabemoji” at the age of 13. Growing up, Tanya would spend hours glued to her comics. admiring their beauty as an entertaining outlet while also appreciating their impact youngsters. A year later she began creating and posting pop art that dealt with social issues. Her work carries influences from artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Banksy. Tanya has been named one of the “7 Omani Artists on the Rise” by Oman Magazine, as well as one of the “9 Contemporary Artists who should be on your Cultural Radar” by the National News for her visual arts. She lives in Muscat.


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Photo of Nooriyah Qais

A playlist made up of relaxing MENA beats, sounds and natural soundscapes with the intention of prompting the listener to appreciate their surroundings and recognise the disproportionate climate impacts on the MENA region.  Filled with Arab, Turkish and North African sounds, this is an ode to our environment <3

Photo of Nooriyah Qais

London-based international DJ, Nooriyah, is on a mission to make the influence of Arabic music known globally. Renowned for her unique blends of Arabic genres, grooves, and ground-shaking drum rhythms, she is one of very few selectors pushing a 100% Arabic sound on the UK airwaves with residencies on Foundation FM and Plus 1 Radio. Her intentional body of work encompasses music, literature, podcasts, and film grounded in a strong desire to highlight and uplift marginalised voices from across the Arab world and diaspora. From taking over the New Radicalism Festival stage in Rotterdam to playing New York’s Yalla party to headlining Dubai’s Femme Fest and London’s Shubbak Festival, Nooriyah’s stage presence is guaranteed to bring the energy that draws in crowds internationally. Some notable features include Vice ArabiaScenenoiseMille World and Renk Magazin.


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