‘Tanafas’ by Emirati writer Maryam Al Balooshi launched at MBRL - GulfToday

‘Tanafas’ by Emirati writer Maryam Al Balooshi launched at MBRL

Maryam Al Balooshi art 2

Mohammed bin Rashid Library, Dubai, the venue for the launch of Breathe.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Mohammed bin Rashid Library (MBRL) has hosted the launch of Tanafas (Breathe), a book by Emirati writer Maryam Al Balooshi in Arabic and English, in collaboration with Dar Molhimon Publishing House and the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid International Photography Award (HIPA).

The event began with a screening of the story of how the Tanafas came to be, with the persons involved in its making offering their points of view. The night concluded with a panel presentation.

“This evening is one of intellectual elegance and it celebrates a journey called Breathe,” the host said during the introduction. “It is a combination of novelty and poetry.”

Al Balooshi recalled that “most of us are alive; but not always living. The Tanafas project is a call to live.” She said she wanted to test herself by completing the volume. The book’s story began with a personal experience by the author when she took a step in 2016 to add a new dimension to her writing and train her mind to master a new writing style. She wanted her words to flow in a unique way, based on an image and the feelings it aroused. It was a spiritual experience.


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“I saw HIPA images and some pictures always drew my attention,” she remembered. “I developed a connection with them. I never thought this experience (of producing the book) would be so exhausting, yet exhilarating. However, the exhaustion taught me many aspects of writing and publishing, the challenges that we had to overcome, and accept the time factor.

“Works of such nature become more valuable when we are involved in all stages of production. Everyone shared this experience with me with love and dedication. Today, I do not consider this book to be solely mine; but rather, a result of the collective effort of all those who contributed to it.”

Maryam Al Balooshi 3  Front and back cover of 'Breathe.'

Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith, HIPA Secretary-General, said that “Maryam’s words (which accompany the images) show features not seen in the images. The easiest part of a book is taking the pictures that go into it.” It is the design, type of paper to be used and positioning the pictures that are the more difficult tasks.

“Standing up for enthusiastic and innovative talents such as Maryam,” he said, “is at the heart of the Award’s core vision, envisioned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. Maryam’s photography project was intriguing from the start, and thanks to her strong sense of perfection, professionalism and hard work, we were confident in supporting her creative project.

“I congratulate Maryam on her continuous striving for excellence. She is a true role model for artists seeking to leave a pioneering mark on the world of culture and arts. Difficult projects are real tests of the artist’s confidence in their ideas, vision, and creative abilities.” The best honour for a picture is for it to be kept in a book forever, he concluded.

Al Balooshi said she saw nearly 15 book covers before settling on one. “I hope something moves you from the first glance,” she said. “Hope you get another perspective on life from the book.” Taking over six years to complete, the work tells the writer’s story through 40 photographs taken by 37 photographers from 19 countries, with each photograph representing a unique experience.

Maryam Al Balooshi 1 Author Maryam Al Balooshi at the launch event.

It includes HIPA’s themes, such as Love of Earth, Beauty of Light, Creating the Future, Life in Colour, Happiness, and The Challenge. The 40 articles that make up the volume are divided into four categories: with the Almighty; with yourself; with family; and with life.

The pictures in the book were chosen randomly, without considering photographer’s name or nationality, allowing the writer to focus on the details of the photographs and create her own story. Dr. Mohammed Salem AlMazrooei, Board Member of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation said that “hosting the book launch event reflects our belief in the importance of supporting unique, globally reaching projects, and stems from our strategy to encourage promising writers, researchers, authors and creators to promote intellectual production in Arabic, as well as in other languages in various fields of literature, science, and the arts. Our aim is to preserve the cultural heritage and human knowledge in all its branches.”

“My story with this book began before the publishing house was even launched,” said Muhammad Qandil, owner of Dar Molhimon Publishing House. “This book presents a unique experience as it provides philosophical articles for several professional photographers in a new way. The process of creating the book was difficult at times; but the experience was worth the effort.”

The HIPA team, Eng. Abdulrahman Al Hammadi, designer Noura Al Tannak and filmmaker Nawaf Al Janahi, were also involved in the writing and production of the book. Al Masar printing press was instrumental in providing the team with specialised advice on how to produce it in its final form. The launch event was attended by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Mohammed Ahmed Al-Murr, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library Foundation; Ali Khalifa Bin Thalith; visual artist Dr. Najat Makki; pioneer of Emirati fine art Abdul Qader Al Rais and officials, writers, media professionals and book and culture lovers.

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