x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai Expo ambassador blends colours and cultures with Majid

An ambassador for the Expo speaks about why she chose well-loved Emirati cartoon character Majid as the central image of her artwork.

DUBAI // Majid, a much-loved Emirati cartoon character, is the central image used in Khawla Darwish's depiction of peace and harmony in diversity.
The Emirati artist embedded sketches of different nationalities into an outline of Majid in national colours, then submitted the artwork as her entry to become an ambassador for Expo 2020.
"I entwined them to show the blending of cultures and backgrounds," said the 26-year-old, who is undergoing training in the Etihad Airways graduate management programme.
"My concept was to have Majid as the main character and show how inside Majid, 200 nationalities live in peace regardless of ethnicity, belief and colour."
Majid is a popular weekly children's magazine that launched in 1979. It is owned by Abu Dhabi Media, which also publishes The National.
She said the familiar figure is instantly recognisable across the region.
"I felt it was my duty to be part of the UAE bid, and I chose Majid because it's a character I grew up with and my parents and grandparents also grew up with," said Ms Darwish, who majored in art and design at Zayed University. "Majid is known not only in the UAE but in other Arab countries and now my nieces and nephews also read it."
It took her about a month to complete the piece.
When selected in November she honoured the organisers' request for confidentiality and did not breathe a word to her family until the winners were announced by the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
"I didn't tell anyone and it was killing me," she said. "It had to be a secret until it was out officially. My sisters were screaming and jumping when they read it in the news. My family is very proud."
An artist for the past six years, her background helped her to speak with confidence when representing the country in Paris in November last year at a high-powered reception organised by the Bureau International des Expositions, the international body overseeing the world fairs.
"Our winning entries were showcased to show the promise the UAE was making the world," Ms Darwish said.
"I found great joy in explaining things about our country. I could talk about the art and culture scene and answer questions. Many people didn't have any idea about our art."
She said she was looking forward to regular meetings with other Expo ambassadors.
"Everyone brings something valuable to the table," Ms Darwish said.
"I look at this as a chance to send a message to everyone that we are ready to host the oldest and most prestigious of world fairs. It has never happened in our region. This is very important for us and for the future."