Dubai, known for its glitz and glamour, is also a city that celebrates art and culture. One such captivating exhibition is Dubai’s Soul Kitchen, which delves into the theme of Arab migration through thought-provoking art installations by acclaimed artists. This unique showcase offers visitors a chance to explore the complex narratives and experiences of Arab migrants through a visual and immersive journey. In this article, we will take a closer look at the remarkable installations featured in Dubai’s Soul Kitchen and delve into the stories they tell.

1. Introduction

Dubai’s Soul Kitchen is a groundbreaking exhibition that seeks to shed light on the theme of Arab migration through the lens of contemporary art. It aims to explore the diverse narratives and experiences of Arab migrants, offering a platform for dialogue and understanding. This unique exhibition showcases the works of talented directors and artists who bring these stories to life through their thought-provoking installations.

Understanding the theme of Arab migration is crucial in grasping the significance of Dubai’s Soul Kitchen. Migration has been a fundamental aspect of human history, shaping societies and cultures across the globe. Arab migration, in particular, has a rich and complex history, driven by a multitude of factors such as economic opportunities, political unrest, and social dynamics. By delving into these stories, Dubai’s Soul Kitchen provides a space for reflection, empathy, and appreciation of the migrant experience.

2. Norah – A Journey of Dreams

Director: Tawfik Alzaidi Starring: Maria Bahrawi, Yaqoub Alfarhan

The debut feature film by Saudi filmmaker Tawfik Alzaidi, Norah, takes us on a journey set in AlUla, a town known for its stunning beauty. The story is set in 1996 and revolves around Nader, a teacher in a rural town who once aspired to be an artist. He becomes the mentor of Norah, a talented teenager, and encourages her to pursue her creative aspirations despite the restrictions she faces. The film explores themes of freedom, self-expression, and the power of art to transcend societal boundaries.

The casting of Maria Bahrawi, a sixteen-year-old newcomer, as the title character Norah adds authenticity to the film. Bahrawi’s audition stood out to Alzaidi, who recognized Norah’s spirit within her. The film beautifully captures the struggle and determination of young individuals who dare to dream, even in the face of adversity.

“When we auditioned, she had basically zero confidence, because she’d just been rejected for another role on the basis that she ‘couldn’t act,’” Alzaidi said. “But I saw Norah’s spirit in her. She understood what it was like to want something more and to not be sure if she would get it.” [^1^]

3. Mandoob – Unveiling the Reality of Riyadh

Director: Ali Kalthami Starring: Mohammed Aldokhei, Hajar Alshammari, Mohammed Alttowayan

Ali Kalthami’s film, Mandoob, offers a raw and honest portrayal of Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. The story revolves around Fahad, a man in desperate need of money, who becomes a delivery driver and starts stealing and selling illegal items from bootleggers. Kalthami aimed to showcase the true essence of Riyadh, moving away from the glossy depiction often seen in commercials.

“Usually, when you see this city, it’s in commercials that only want to show you the beauty of Riyadh, but it’s a beauty without tension, so it’s missing truth,” Kalthami explained. “Our aim was for every shot, every location, to reflect the emotional journey of Fahad and, at the same time, show the history of this city – both its past and future are strikingly present with every turn of his wheel.” [^2^]

4. Inshallah A Boy – A Jordanian Perspective

Director: Amjad Al-Rasheed Starring: Mouna Hawa, Haitam Omari, Yumna Marwan

Amjad Al-Rasheed’s debut feature film, Inshallah A Boy, made history as the first Jordanian film to screen at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The story revolves around Nawal, a nurse living in a low-income neighborhood in East Amman, Jordan, with her daughter Nora. Nawal’s late husband, Adnan, left behind a truck, which his brother Rifqi insists on selling to recover the money Adnan owed him.

To stall Rifqi’s demands, Nawal claims she is pregnant, knowing that if she were to have a son, Rifqi would have no claim on Adnan’s estate. The film explores the complexities of relationships, societal pressures, and the lengths individuals go to protect what is rightfully theirs.