Dubai Quilter Leads Group UAE Quilt Project

Farida was inspired to create the patchwork quilt as a testament to her love for her adopted home. The Canadian national has been living in the UAE since her childhood…reports Asian Lite News

Dubai-based quilt artist, Farida Talaat embarked on a group quilt project by calling upon the UAE’s sewing and quilting community to join her in creating a unique patchwork quilt revolving around the theme: ‘What the UAE Means to Me’.

Quilters and sewing enthusiasts from both emirates joined forces on a group quilt to commemorate the UAE’s 52nd National Day, with each participant creating a part of the quilt that reminds them of the UAE; it could be a landmark, a feeling, or a memory.

Each quilt patch square would tell its quiltmaker’s story, reflecting on their journey in the country.

The different quilt squares or blocks feature various fibre crafting methods including knitting, crochet, cross-stitchery, appliqués, intricate bead work and hand- and machine-embroidery.

There were the typical UAE symbols; a palm tree, a camel, sand dunes, dates, a map of the country and a Henna-adorned hand. Other squares show the beautiful nature of the desert, while some express the essence of what the UAE represents for most expats with more nuanced meanings like home, community, family and future.

Farida was inspired to create the patchwork quilt as a testament to her love for her adopted home. The Canadian national has been living in the UAE since her childhood.

“Much like a patchwork quilt is made of a heterogenous mix of mismatched fabric, so is the UAE; a melting pot of nationalities and cultures that live together in harmony,” she says.

The project started in summer when Farida asked her fellow quilter friends and the quilting society to each design and create a quilt block; a 10″ x 10″ piece of square fabric.

A total of ten members from across the UAE participated in the collective feat. Everyone had a special story about what the UAE meant to them, and so each square represented something personal to its maker.

For example, Lamia Bentellis of Algeria created an eclectic patchwork of colours and prints with the word ‘Family’ appliquéed on her square.

Somaya Abdel Kader from Egypt has been in the UAE with her family since the late seventies. They toggled between Sharjah and Fujairah and have finally settled in Dubai since 1984. She created a 3D knitted heart in the colours of the UAE flag.

Sue Markou – a fellow Canadian – created two blocks; one is an artistic depiction of Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Emirates Towers, Dubai Eye, a palm tree and a camel, while the other is an embroidered recreation of the UAE’s map featuring raised embroidery with a moving bead resembling the Jabal Jais zipline.

She has lived for nearly 20 years in Dubai. “Dubai has given us safety, security and lots of fun indoors and outdoors,” she says.

Vidhya Michael of India created a square in the shape of the flag of the UAE embellished with a stitched outline of the country’s map encircling the word ‘Home’. She has lived in the country for 30 years, and in India for 26. “I lived here longer than in my own country!” she says.

Indian Malika Rehman has lived in the UAE with her family for over four decades and is proud of this longevity. Her quilt square shows a kneeling camel and a Palm tree in a sand dune setting.

Farida’s own square features fabrics in shades of blue green resembling not only the sea, but also the tremendous greenery that the dessert country boasts; something that reminds her of Canada. A metallic silver fabric in the shape of the Museum of the Future illustrates how Farida sees the future of her chosen country; bright.

During the process, Farida led the group along the way, occasionally prompting her peers with reminders and topic ideas, sparking their creativity and imagination.

Once all the quilt squares or blocks were complete, Farida then got sewing. The blocks were assembled and sewn together in rows and columns to create one large quilt top, which was then quilted and completed with a backing to make a finished and fruitful quilt.

Finally, the quilt was complete and unfurled. “I like to think it was a patriotic and sentimental piece of work for all of us,” says Farida. “I’m glad I was able to bring together a group of passionate crafters connected by their crafting skills and their love for the UAE,” she added.  

“It feels so good to connect with friends and complete strangers in an entrepreneurial way, and foster a wonderful and inspiring conversation around our shared love and appreciation for our second home. And this is what the UAE means to me.”

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