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Samia Al Zaru
Samia Taktak Zaru is a contemporary multi-media artist renowned throughout the Arab world. Born into an artistic family in Nablus, Palestine.
Samia is a prolific artist, taking a glance at her CV, one realizes that she has never stopped creating since 1957, even with the birth of six children. She manages her life with resilience and a timeless determination of expression.Her diaries, large black volumes of sketch pads, became the starting point from which a simple black and white pencil sketch, water-colour or design would determine the outcome of her artwork, whether abstract painting, mixed media murals or sculpture.
Samia became the first woman to experiment in mixed media creations as a welder/sculptor, whether scrap metals, stone, wood, yarn or paint; she would always see beyond the simple image and transform it into a masterpiece of creativity that would leave the viewer with a sobering thought.
For Samia it is a search for identity by trying materials that relate to human beings and life: wood, dyes, ropes and the remnants of Palestinian embroidery, as an expression of the beauty of her culture and land. She yearns for a future where art is the international language that will make long lasting bridges of understanding and tolerance amongst nations and hopes Arab art will spread around the world.
Ghassan Abu Laban
Ghassan Abulaban was born in 1964 in Bethlehem, Palestine. He graduated from Yarmouk University, Jordan in 1988 with a BFA in painting and drawing. He has worked in many different fields like working as a teacher of drawing and painting at the University of Jordan, a private instructor of drawing and painting, an art critic, a playwright and a poet, a member of Jordan Plastic Art Association, and a member of Jordan Writers Association. Ghassan has won many awards for his work, he has won 1st prize in Don Quijote’s Painting Contest in Jordan 1999, 2nd prize in Lurca’s Centenary Contest in Jordan 1998, and 1st prize in Youth Arts Painting Contest in Jordan 1988.
Apart from working as a instructor, teacher, critic, and winning many prizes, Ghassan has held many solo exhibitions in Jordan, Like Identity at Foresight Gallery 2005, Dialogue at Orfali Gallery 2004, Painting/Poetry Exhibition at Orfali Gallery 2000, The Portraits Exhibition at Phoenix Gallery 1994, and many others. And also in the United States like Someone/Somewhere Exhibition at Mark Gallery, and Portrait Conversations at Attleboro Museum Centre for the Arts.
He has also participated in many group exhibitions, Biennales, private collections, and workshops. In 2001, Leslie University, Boston MA, produced a documentary film about the artist called “Portrait Conversations”.
Mohanna Durra was born in Jordan in 1938. He moved on to graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome, but moved back to Amman in 1970 to establish the first institute of Fine Arts in Jordan. From then till the early eighties he was the Director General of the Department of Culture & Art and Director of Cultural Affairs, League of Arab States in Tunis. Afterwards he returned to Rome and had many exhibitions there. In the years following he lived and worked in Tunis, Cairo, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Currently he is a professor at the Faculty of Art at Jordan University.
Durra also held solo exhibitions in London, Washington DC, Venice Biennale, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and the Austrian Parliament Central Hall in Vienna. His work is also represented in international collections, including the Vatican, the Imperial Court of Japan, David Rockefeller, Fanemay Bank in Washington DC, Brown University and many more.
Among the many awards he has received are Golden Medal of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage in 1978, Golden Pioneer Medal of Honor by the Union of Arab Artists in 1980 and in 2008 he received 1st class Distinction Medal by King Abdullah of Jordan.
Lina Attel is the founder and Director of The National Center for Culture and Arts of King Hussein Foundation and the Director of the annual International Arab Youth Congress since 1993.
Her achievements include publishing many articles on theatre in education methodology, being an international certified trainer in the many aspects of drama and theatre and directing several plays such as the musical “Petra Rocks”, “Opera Abu Hassan” and “Walking the Winds … Arabian Tales”
Ms. Attel was the head of the cultural committee for the National Plan of Action for Children (2004-2013) & participated in drafting the cultural section for the National Agenda 2006. She has also devised the curricula for the Theater Department of the Arts & Design College at the University of Jordan.
Ms Attel has served and continues to serve on several public and private sectors’ committees including the Advisory Committee of Experts for the UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity and the Arab Alliance of Women in Music and is the Vice President of International Theater Institute (ITI) – Jordan
Ms Attel has received many awards for her many contributions, including Al Hussein Medal for Distinction of the First Order for distinguished achievement in the field of theatre- Jordan, (2000) and the Award for Outstanding Performance and Contribution to Tourism in Jordan by Jordan Tourism Board for the Musical Play Petra Rocks, 2009
Ali Almasri is a type and graphic designer who holds multiple degrees in graphic and industrial design. His portfolio is very diverse, across the area of branding and corporate identities, interactive media design, print design, and type design. At the same time, his practices encompass experimentation with multiple digital and analogue media. He seeks to explore new visual languages relating in particular to the Arabic visual culture with a specific focus on the Arabic letter.
Jordan, November 1981
Hussein studied Graphic Design at the Amman Graphic Arts School, graduating in 1999. He joined the London Art College in 2009, to earn an academic Diploma in Graphic Design.
He believes that the originality of Arabic calligraphy is a key feature of Arabic-Islamic culture, and always aims to reflect this in his modern approach to the art and design. Hussein was influenced by different directions: the traditional calligraphers around him, the openness on western art and media, the contemporary design movements around the world, but most importantly Arabic kids books and magazine in the 70’s & 80’s, where Hussein found in them the spirit of experimentation and unique Arabic design touch.
In other media, Hussein has participated in many art projects with Blouzaat, an urban art T-Shirt company. He has also created numerous illustrations and calligraphy works for local and international clients, publications, and art collectors. Also he showed his artworks on the skateboards exhibitions in Amman in 2010 and 2012.
The strong believe in art and design and their interaction with calligraphy and lettering has pushed Hussein to launch his charity initiative: “Wajha”, that aims to help people with design by providing a simple and contemporary branding works for their shop facades and interior spaces, Wajha is happening now with collaboration between Hussein and his friend Ali Almasri. Wajha is presenting these neat services for people who need good design, and of course with no charges.
Toleen Touq is an independent cultural operator based in Amman, Jordan. Since 2009 she has curated, directed or produced several multidisciplinary festivals including the annual “Hakaya” storytelling festival (with Al-Balad Theatre.) She is engaged in initiating projects and programs that expand the relationship between arts, culture and politics through audio interventions, public discussions and social activism. She co-curated the exhibition ‘We have woven the motherlands with nets of iron’ and is co-curator of the ongoing program “The river has two banks.
Partner in Jacaranda Images gallery since 2007, Barbara has a degree in Graphic Design and Graduate Diploma in Business Management. Her versatile career has included
international tourism and event management, marketing, venue management, product development, and strategic planning. With over 12 years of experience in conducting and managing business in Jordan, Barbara includes her Australian background in the gallery, promoting indigenous art alongside contemporary Jordanian and regional artists.
Co-founder of Visual Laundry. A father of four with an experimental spirit. Passionate about visual story telling, sound design, film editing and cinematography. A media consultant and ex-basketball player who aims to implement projects that are sustainable by nature. With an eye for detail, Amr aims to create the best visual work possible.
Jan Kassay is the founder of Jan Kassay Photography, becoming the first woman in Jordan to work as a full-time commercial photographer. Jan graduated from the City Of London College, UK with a diploma in Business Administration, and studied commercial photography at the Northern Virginia Community College, USA, as well as studying commercial photography and art history at George Mason University, USA.Jan is currently working as a photography. she is involved in several ongoing projects with Ruwwad, She has also coached and supervised the production of children’s photography book “Stories from Jabal Al Nadeef “ for the Annah Lindh & Ruwwad Child Literature Project. Her job experience consists of much more than that, she has been a contributor at Getty Images since 1998, the founding board member of Creative Network Initiative, the curator of Jordan Artwork at the UK photo exhibit, and a fundraising committee director at the Board of Advisers at the International School of Bern.Jan’s fine art photography work’s been exhibited in many major exhibitions like Nabad Art Gallery in Amman, Jordan, The National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman, Jordan, Bahrain National Museum, Rhodasten Gallery, Gottenburg, and many others.She has also won many different awards like first prize in Washington DC’s 37th annual New Concepts, Best Directions exhibition, held by the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington, and achieved the Photographer’s Forum Award of Excellence.
Amman-based Annemarie Jacir has written, directed and produced over fourteen films. One of the leading figures of the ‘Arab New Wave’, two of her films have premiered as Official Selections at the Cannes Film Festival, one in Venice and one in Berlin. Her film like twenty impossibles (2003) was the first Arab short film to be an Official Selection in Cannes and continued to break ground when it became a finalist for the Academy Awards. Five years later she returned to Cannes with the critically acclaimed Salt of this Sea, Palestine’s 2008 Oscar Entry, and winner of the FIPRESCI Critic’s Prize. Founder of Philistine Films, her recent film When I Saw You was noted for being entirely financed by Arab and Palestinian funds, with a cast and crew almost entirely Arab, marking a new trend for independent cinema in the region. One of only a few local films to be distributed in cinemas in Jordan, When I Saw You secured the widest release of an independent Arab film to date. When I Saw You won the Critics Award for Best Asian Film at the Berlin International Festival, as well as Best Arab Film at Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Jury Prize in Cairo and Oran, and Tunisian Film Critics Prize. With a commitment to teaching, training and hiring locally, Annemarie has actively been involved with nurturing the careers of several of the Arab world’s new cinema talents. She teaches screenwriting and works as an editor and film curator, promoting independent filmmakers. In 2011, renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou selected her to be his first protegee. She is also a poet and photographer.
Dr. Jacqueline Taylor Basker
Dr. Jacqueline Basker, known as “Dr. Jacqui,” has been the head of the Fine Arts/Computer Graphics Department at New York Institute of Technology in Amman. She holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University/Graduate Theological Foundation in Art History and Theology, with a specialty in Late Roman/Early Christian art. She has been researching the shared symbolism of world religions, and in Jordan has developed courses in Islamic Visual Culture. She was a pioneer in NYC in the use of technology in the arts, and developed the first website used in NY for a gallery while Director of Westbeth Gallery in Westbeth Artists Housing in Greenwich Village, NYC, the largest artist community in the world. She has exhibited and published widely, including articles about art in the Middle East. She is also a film maker who made a film on the impact of 9/11 on NY artists “Aftermath: 9/11 and NY Artists.” She is President of Arts PR-International, designed to help artists develop their careers and exhibit internationally. Excited by the potential of social media for artists, she is studying the aesthetic, economic and global implications of Facebook, Linkedin and other sites for the arts. She is currently exhibiting her art with the We Are You Project of Hispanic artists, whose work addresses the issues of discrimination in the US.
Warsheh was originally founded in January 2010 by Tamer AlMasri and Mothanna Hussein, with JoBedu (Tamer AlMasri & Michael Makdah) financing the foundations for the start up. It was later joined by Hadi Alaeddin as a partner. Both Mothanna and Hadi have now taken on their respective roles as the core team of Warsheh, hoping to turn it into the best design studio in the region.
Ahmad Humeid is a designer/design advocate, blogger and web entrepreneur, and the CEO of SYNTAX, a brand, design and innovation firm. He started his first design studio in 1991 while studying architecture at the University of Jordan. In the 1990s he led design and technology efforts at various pioneering publishing, consulting and web ventures in the Arab region, including BYTE Middle East Magazine and Arabia.com, the region’s first web portal. In 2005 he co-founded TootCorp, a web venture lab that
launched the pioneering Arab video portal ikbis.com and other web ventures. Soon after, he co-founded Spring, a web and mobile technology development company that focuses on serving the emerging technology start-up scene in the region. In 2011 he launched the design advocacy initiative ReDesign Arabia, which aims at elevating the social role of design and designers as agents of positive change and human-centered innovation in the Arab region. Living on the web since the advent of the commercial internet in 1994, he has been a regular blogger on his blog 360east.com, one of Jordan’s first blogs, focusing on design, technology, media and urban culture in the region. Nowadays he can be more often read on twitter @humeid and on Facebook. Ahmad is a member of Diwan al Mimar, an architectural forum that meets regularly in Amman. He also spoke in various regional and global conference and forums on design, media and technology.
Yacoub Abu Gosh
Yacoub Abu Gosh was born in September 1975, he is a graduate of law at the University of Jordan. He started learning the basics of music and learned how to play bass guitar during 1994, and later joined Black Iris; one of the most successful bands in Jordan who play Western music. In the year 2000 he joined the band Rum Tareq Al Nasser which helped him to learn the assets of music composition and distribution especially the Arab shrines which became the basis of his musical direction. In 2004 Abu Gosh started the band Zaman Al Zaatar which is the first alternative band in Jordan and one of the first bands to offer Arabic music mixed with modern global musical influences, which was considered as a step to rid the Arabic music scene of the prevailing mainstream music. Zaman Al Zaatar have released 3 albums till today; Zai Kol El Nas was their first album which contains 7 tracks written by Abu Gosh. Zad is the title of their second album whose focus was the redistribution of some of the most important music of the Arab and Turkish heritage and jazz in a way that illustrates the connections between these different types of music. In 2012 Abu Gosh released his first solo album which contains tracks composed, distributed and some even written by him. Other than that Abu Gosh has also worked on soundtracks and sound design through more than 20 short films and 3 feature length documentaries and a range of television programs, he has also worked in production, and has produced albums for many Arabic and Jordanian artists.
Suad Taji is the Creative Director at The Online Project, managing the Production Unit, which consists of graphic designers and social media developers. With solid background in branding and corporate identity, print layout and design, her creative approach and experience are used in scoping successful projects from concept through deployment.
Having been a part of TOP for the past three years, Suad has gained extensive knowledge in the social media and digital worlds and used her experience and background to combine both and create well rounded strategic concepts and creative solutions for clients and potential clients.
Working with both designers and developers, as well as companies and clients in a variety of industries has provided Suad a vast array of both technical and creative sensibilities that strongly determine the success of creative marketing strategies.
Some Jordanian graphic designer/illustrator/crap-collector/wannabe. Pretty obsessed about Arab-ism (the new redefined concept of cultural unity of Arabs), Visual cultures and Urban identities.
Suffer severe fetishes for: Arabic Art & Design, Layout and Editorial Design, Typography, Appropriated Oriental-ism, Strategies and Impromptu Copy-writing. Has hardcore beliefs in Experimental-ism & Zines. Hence, working on Daftar, which is an online publication that acts as a platform and a creative collective for Arabic culture.
Art Director with Leo Burnett Jordan. Enjoys the sight of unimpressed cats and daydreams about improv comedy
Sarah Abu Alia
Sarah Abu Alia is the founder of ArtMedium, her experience is in art education, media/marketing and various arts and entertainment project management. Sarah is currently interested in building innovative arts and digital media projects. A journey is one step at a time. Follow @sarahabualia on twitter.
At the age of four Tarek moved to Amman in 1979 where he began his music studies at local establishments such as Girhoma. At the age of 14, he started studying advanced piano performance under Rula Nabeel. When a year later he began improvising short pieces on the piano, Nabeel helped him advance his musical theory knowledge to express himself better. This culminated in him being one of the few Jordanians to receive the Purcell Anniversary Fund Scholarship to pursue higher music studies in the UK. He started professional training in Composition in 1994 at Trinity College of Music, London, under Daryl Runswick. There, he received several awards including the Adam Collins Prize and the Chevening Scholarship. He graduated top of his department in 1999 for which he received the Trust Silver Medal for Composition. In 2001 he received a Scholarship to pursue a Masters degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London in Ethnomusicology of the Near and Middle East. Afterwards, Tarek returned to Amman to pursue a multi-faceted career in Education, Ethnic music documentation/research, Composition and Piano Performance. His pieces continue to be performed globally receiving excellent reviews. He recently established the Amman Music Society which aims at presenting the best Jordanian Musicians to an appreciative audience by holding privately hosted recitals to paying society members.
Born and raised in Amman. Studied Fashion Design, Commercial Art, Beauty Therapy, Art Therapy & Special Effects Make-up.
Worked extensively abroad, from 1983 until present, within the fields of design, performing, make-up and performance arts.
Defines self as: “An Artist who does make-up”, a creator, and a mentor to a whole new generation of make-up and creative artists. Adviser to many budding directors, as well as a consultant in all fields and genres whether art or life. Writes, dances, sings and enjoys life the maximum.
Motto: I remain unconquered for I have lived a rich and varied life far beyond your imagining.
Brittany born, Victoria was educated in Paris. She graduated with a BA in Archeology & Art History and MA in Contemporary Art at the Sorbonne University, before starting her career assisting the famous German photographer Candida Hofer. Lelandais entered professional life by working within renowned institutions like Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris, and Christie’s Dubai. Lelandais was part of SIKKA 2012 management team and is now Art Dubai’s Collectors’ Circle Coordinator. She constantly travels through the Middle East to visit new artists’ studios. In particular to Jordan and Palestine, where she created The Color Wheel Project, an art summer camp for kids leaving in Jerash Gaza refugee camp. Lelandais also curated a fundraiser exhibition to the benefit of Yabous Cultural Center in east Jerusalem, held at Cuadro Art Gallery.
International award-winning spoken word artist, published poet, writer and business journalist, Aysha was born and raised in Amman, Jordan. She is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, where her writing career began as a poet and spoken word artist after joining top-ranking collegiate Spoken Word Poetry crew, The Excelano Project. She is a world youth slam poetry finalist (Brave New Voices 2008), twice US national collegiate slam poetry champion (CUPSI 2007 and 2008), and featured poet on Russell Simmons’ documentary on top teen slam poets in the U.S, “Brave New Voices” (aired on HBO in 2009).
Aysha is currently based in Amman, Jordan, she writes for a leading local business publication, Venture Magazine. She is the co-founder of Project Pen, a digital Middle Eastern platform that exists to advance and support a Middle Eastern literary and creative writing scene that is free of censorship. She is currently founding and developing the Middle East’s first advanced writers’ incubator, “The Cell”, in addition to working on a first novel and compiling a full manuscript of her poetry.
Laith Al-Qasem, Chairman of Arabian Business Consultants for development (ABCD) has worked closely with Ms. Randa Jabaji, a Jordanian designer and entrepreneur on developing Design Institute Amman. Mr Al-Qasem views design capability as a necessary and essential link in the Jordanian economy to assist local companies and manufacturers to add value through design making them more competitive internationally.