Dr. Najat Makki, a pioneering UAE artist, is the first Emirati woman to earn a government scholarship to study art abroad in 1977. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sculpture from the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, where she also received her doctorate in the philosophy of art in 2001.
This example created among a handful of others by a group of UAE female artists and donated to the Zay initiative, during an afternoon spent together to celebrate UAE women empowerment at the home of the Zay Initiative’s founder in 2018.
The artists worked together during a four-hour session, each placing her individual art on silk. The fabrics where then collected and a combination (thawb) and (kandurah) gown (thawb_kandurah) was designed out of each artwork to be preserved in the artist’s name within the Zay collection.
The artist chose to paint (rasm) her signature abstract yet figurative style using her well-known combination of copper tones (purples, greens, and blues) and contrasting colours (yellow & white).
The silk fabric was then transformed by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli into the overgarment (thawb), featuring the artwork on the central panel both front and back. This was flanked on either side by alternating vertical panels in light purple and light green tulle (tur). To help emphasise the artwork, the traditional UAE neckline shape (bidhah) was simply delineated using one basic outline embroidered in deep metallic purple. The same embroidered outline was also applied to the vertical joints on the panelling and the sleeve cuffs (swarah) or (hyul) on the inner tunic (kandurah). This inner tunic dress (kandurah), now acting as lining, was kept plain in light green satin silk and the back was accentuated by a train (thayil).