21st century thobes on show at Abu Dhabi Art

81 Designs, a UAE social enterprise, has collaborated with Jordanian design studio, Naqsh Collective, to create A Thobe Story which is a line of Palestinian thobes embodying a deeply rooted heritage.

The thobe are being presented at Abu Dhabi Art.

The traditional thobes have been modernised to depict traditions that move through time — transforming them from being a national attire in Arab countries into a new visual language.

The rich Arabian culture is evident from the intricacy of the work, volume of details in each design and to the transformation. Each of the 10 art pieces are hand-embroidered by Palestinian refugee women employed by 81 Designs and reflects Naqsh Collective’s stories of missing experiences in Palestinian cities including Jaffa, Acre and Gaza.

Nadine Y Maalouf, co-founder of 81 Designs, said: “Through our collaboration, we aim to showcase the artisanal talents, while providing a platform for regional artists and designers to showcase their art in a different medium."

The Jordanian sisters behind Naqsh Collective integrate the beauty of their Palestinian heritage into minimal contemporary aesthetic, producing works that translate traditions through shapes, meanings, and compositions.

“The thobes will connect with grandmothers and can be passed on from generation to generation,” explained Nermeen Abudail, Naqsh Collective co-founder.

Nisreen Abudail, one of the sisters and co-founder,  added: “We wanted the thobes to emanate the same cultural feel and reflect the same story as our brass work.”

The art pieces are available at US $10,000 each at the  Abu Dhabi Art, which is being held virtually until November 26.

For more information, please contact @81DesignsME on Facebook / Instagram / its official website 81designsme.com.

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Aside from writing a variety of stories for Gulf Weekly (including reviews, community, fashion and sports reports), I also am an RJ on Radio Bahrai ....Read more


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