Insight, reflect - The Sharjah Exhibition @BCBF

Sharjah, Guest of Honour 2022, was present at the Fair and in the city with a rich programme of meetings. In addition to presenting Sharjah's publishing scene to the international public of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the numerous initiatives included an exhibition of illustrators entitled Insight, reflect.

Insight, reflect is made up of over more than 100 illustrations of 20 Emirati artists.
These artists presented their work to invite those who work in the children's book industry to reflect and strive towards engaging in creative and philosophical reflections, with a hope of producing children’s books that are characterized by visual and creative content seeking to address their future aspirations. Their artwork seeks to convey intellectual reflections that engage with children’s hearts before engaging with their eyes. The city of Sharjah is depicting a glamorous scene through various creative young minds who are focusing on producing illustrated books for children, using a wide array of different techniques from realism and collage to printmaking and abstractionism. The Emirati illustrators included in the Exhibition participated in illustration production workshops held throughout the year and mentored by Arab and international artists.

Exhibition organized by the Sharjah Book Authority.
Coordinated by Mr. Mohamed Mahdi, Member of the Committee for the Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition.

Go to the photogallery

The 20 Illustrators

Aisha AlBlooshi

Aisha AlBlooshi is an Emirati artist based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 1990. She graduated from Zayed University with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Art in 2015. Aisha’s artwork is known for igniting a sense of nostalgia, and childhood reminiscence. Most of her artwork is characterized by its expressive symbolism. She uses figurines and dolls to capture a moment or to express some analogies; she believes that dolls could be used as a medium for expressing a rich array of human emotions. Thus, she utilized these dolls to reveal and express her observations, self-complexes, and inner thoughts.
She participated in several group exhibitions such as, Tashkeel’s 2017 “Mind the Gap” group exhibition, World Art Dubai 2018, and “Qudwa” group exhibition at Al Jalila Cultural Centre 2018. She also donated artwork to Art 4 Sight for Noor Dubai that was sold in Christie’s auction on the 11th of October 2017. She participated in Abu Dhabi Art Galleries Week in Manarat Al Saadiyat in 2019 and Sharjah Children's Reading Festival with a visual narrative for children.


Alia Al-Badi

Alia Al-Badi is an illustrator from Dubai; who mainly uses watercolors in her work. She started her journey as an illustrator at the Khaleej Times newspaper, then decided to take a step forward in her career and become an independent artist.
Her first silent book is titled “Soar Soar”, and it was published by Al Fulk publishing house. She has also illustrated two children's books titled “Whale in the AC” and “The Blue Lion”.
Al-Badi is currently working on her second silent book. She is just as passionate about getting inspired as she is about inspiring people, and that is what she constantly strives to achieve through her artwork.


Ammar Al Attar

Ammar Al Attar (UAE) has attended numerous photography courses and is a member of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), Photographic Society of America (PSA), and the Abu Dhabi International Photographic Society (ADIPS).
Ammar has participated in several group exhibitions, including Emirati Expressions, at Manarat Al Saadiyat (2011) and the Thessaloniki Museum exhibition in Greece (2011).


Asma bin Kalban

Asma bin Kalban is an Emirati illustrator and author of children's literature, and she is the founder of Al Thouraya Publishing. She has a strong passion for preserving Emirati heritage. She wrote two children’s books titled, "Weaving a Square" and "My Grandmother Trove". Her first book “Weaving a Square” was chosen to be part of the Ministry of Education’s Arabic fourth grade curriculum in the UAE in 2017 and 2018. She attended several illustration workshops with children's books illustrators like Walid Taher from Egypt, Esteli Meza from Mexico, Francesca Dafne Vignaga from Italy, and Andreja Peklar from Slovenia.


Asmaa Al-Hosani

Asmaa Ebrahim is an Emirati artist. She worked at a skills lab and illustrated a book called “Time with Zayed”.  She has worked as a freelancer for 3 years. Asmaa studied architecture in Ajman University. Her work has been featured in the Sharjah Children's Book Illustrations Exhibition in 2018 and 2019. She worked as an assistant artist for Sharjah’s artist Wafa Ebrahim in her art galleries. She also did workshops for “funn” a company that offers art workshops for children. She illustrated a book for Bahraini writer Ibrahim Sanad called “who am I”. 

Budoor Al-Mehri

Budoor received a bachelor’s degree in information management from the Higher Colleges of Technology. She also got a High Diploma in Programming. She worked as a graphic designer and participated in Character Dubai Exhibition 2008/2009, Dubai Schoolism Workshop, Comic Q Workshop Dubai 2016/2018 and Sharjah Book Authority Workshop 2019.


Eman Al-Raesi

She is an Emirati artist who lives in Sharjah. Eman Al-Raesi has always had a fascination with children’s books, which is why she decided to make a career shift from galleries and fine art to children’s books illustration. She is a newcomer in this field and has just completed her first children’s book, written and illustrated by Eman herself for the 'Books-Made in the UAE', a joint cultural project between (UAEBBY) and the Goethe-Institute. Her designs won at the ArtBus Dubai competition in 2015 and the Abu Dhabi Art Wing Design Competition in 2013. She received the 3rd prize at the Sharjah University Arts Competition and 2nd prize at Al Tawasol Workshop of the Emirates Fine Arts Society.


Fatima Al-Ameri

Fatima is an Emirati artist and writer who majored in Architecture and Interior Design and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Arabic and Literature. Through her art creations and writing; Fatima has received a number of awards and honors such as: The second place prize at the 2018 Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition, the second place prize at the University of Sharjah competition for short stories in the same year, and the first place prize at the Sharjah Education Council’s Story Writing Competition in 2017. She also received the UAE women in literature and arts award. Additionally, she has published three books which include: The Face; a series of short stories, Differentoota; a children’s book written and illustrated by Fatima herself, and The Secret of Parcel; an illustrated short story that has been so far translated into five languages. Fatima also participated in many art exhibitions in the UAE and abroad including the cities of Dubai, New York City and Poland.


Khadija Al-Mulla

Khadija Al-Mulla has a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Zayed University, Dubai. She worked as a Creative Interior Designer at MBDA and freelanced as a conceptualist for MBDA design studio. She also participated as an Artist at Comic Con. Khadija Al-Mulla interned at the Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and Joined the Venezia Architecture Benniale exhibition in 2014. She also interned at Woods Bagot. She was an instructor at Farjam Summer Art Camp in 2013, and a narrator in a seminar at ESMA.


Khalid Al Banna

Khalid Al Banna received his degree in Architectural Engineering from the UAE University in Al Ain. Khalid revolutionized his artwork by treating it as if he were constructing a living environment, paying attention not only to its aesthetics, but also its basic foundations in dimension, space and form.
Khalid Al Banna liberated himself from traditional modernist techniques; and immersed himself in the art of painting, sculpture, mixed media and etching to symbolize his eternal quest to recover memories through simple materials and techniques. He had a Solo Exhibition at the Emirates Fine Arts Society in Sharjah, High College Technologies in Sharjah, and an exhibition at the Cuadro Gallery in Dubai 2014-2017. He received the 1st place prize in the UAEU Art Competition, and the 2nd place prize in the Emirates Fine Art Society annual exhibition.


Khalid Mezaina

Khalid Mezaina (UAE) is an independent graphic designer, illustrator and artist. He graduated from the American University of Sharjah, UAE with a BS in Visual Communication. Khalid is inspired by comic books, music and Dubai’s ever-evolving landscape and people. His work as an artist has been exhibited both locally and internationally.
Khalid is the founder of a young brand labelled krossbreed, which promises contemporary, culturally-infused designs with an unconventional flare. Khalid is an active social networker and blogger.
Khalid’s residency was part of Shopopolis, an initiative by Delfina Foundation that explores shopping centers as social spaces. Throughout June and July 2011, Khalid worked alongside fellow Emirati artist Karima al-Shomely and public works, the London-based collective of artists and architects. The final outcomes of the project were produced in Westfield London for the Mayor of London’s festival Shubbak: A Window into Contemporary Arab Culture.


Latifa Al-Ketbi

Latifa Al-Ketbi studied at the Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah Women’s College, and received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Communications. She participated in Sajaya Young Ladies Sharjah in Al Qarayen, as a Graphic Design Trainee at the Business Development Department. She also participated in art workshops at Sharjah book authority and Sharjah art foundation as well as the Sharjah Children's Book Illustrations Exhibition.


Maitha Al-Khayat

Maitha Al Khayat is a new breed of superhero. A mother of five, an author and an illustrator, who roams inside and outside the UAE spreading her passion for books.
Maitha is a Board Member at the UAE Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), and an ambassador of the Emirates Literature Festival. In less than 10 years, Al-Khayat has published more than 160 books; some translated into English and Turkish, and others used in curriculums at schools around the country.
Her popular book “My Own Special Way” received an award for best book in the Children’s Forum, Riyadh (2011), and was nominated for best translated book at the Marsh Awards, UK (2013). Maitha’s picture book “Turn Off the Lights” was also awarded for best picture book at the Publisher’s Forum, Sharjah (2016). Maitha also writes for children’s TV shows, including the newly relaunched Arabic version of Sesame and the Emirati cartoon series “Hamdoon”. Recently, she has published her first Young Adult novel “Tofan”.


Mariam Al-Binali

Mariam Al-Binali is a graphic designer, illustrator and a comic artist. In her artwork, she enjoys depicting everyday life with hints of fantastic and imaginative settings. She created the brand identity for Novel Ready Wear - Abu Dhabi. She is teaches an art foundation course at the Sharjah Art Foundation. She also participated in Sxillab Children’s Book illustration workshop - Dubai. She did an internship at the Seventeen Eleven Design Studio - Abu Dhabi.


Maryam Al-Shamsi

Maryam Al-Shamsi is an illustrator born and based in Dubai. She creates fictional images drawn from nature and machinery; a blend of fantasy and sci-fi. Her work ranges from designing environments to creating imaginative vehicles and plants.
Al-Shamsi uses both traditional and digital methods to create her work, but mainly works with pen and ink. She has always been inspired by the visuals of concept art and animation background design, alongside elements from her everyday life.
Al-Shamsi received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Zayed University, majoring in Visual Arts and minoring in Curatorial Practices. She has been actively displaying her work; recent shows she participated in include: "Emerge III: Converging Lines 2019 in Venice, Italy and Sikka 19: nurturing co-existence, Dubai, UAE.


Nasir Nasrallah

Nasir Nasrallah (UAE) experiments with and synthesizes materials, be they physical objects, ideas or theorems. His work is a highly personal response to his environment and the people and places he comes across. It is a direct result of his thoughts and feelings and his desire to communicate his inner life to the viewer. Nasir is driven by the desire to test new concepts and methodologies, and to utilize them where they can enrich his artwork. He gets inspired by the physical objects he collects and feels the need to use them in his work; these objects include toys, small consumer items, buttons, paper, wood, and pieces of hardware.
Nasir has a B.Eng in Telecommunication Engineering from Khalifa University in Sharjah. He took art courses at the Emirates Fine Arts Society whilst studying for his degree, and participated in exhibitions inside and outside the UAE, including the annual exhibition of the Emirates Fine Art Society and the Cairo Biennial in 2006. Nasrallah currently holds the position of Vice President of the Emirates Fine Art Society and is an Ambassador for The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY).
He had two solo exhibitions, in 2009 and 2011, and he won the First Prize award at the Emirates Fine Art Society’s 30th Annual Exhibition in 2012.


Salama Al-Nuaimi

She is an interdisciplinary artist and a qualified graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts Education. Armed with the latest trends and techniques, she is determined to create a real impact in the education and art industry. She utilizes digital media and various mediums to create outstanding children’s illustrations and books. Her work aims to be calming and light-hearted, and often colorful. Her latest book illustrations are a joined book project with the Sxill Lab’s team called “The Sad Star” and “Zayed’s Heartbeat”.
She has acquired a lot of qualifications and expertise from being a representative of the Art Education major in the Collage of Education Orientation weeks. She minored in Clinical Simulation in Teacher Education from Ghent University in Belgium held at the United Arab Emirates University. She also participated in various exhibitions and book fairs giving workshops and showcasing artwork around the United Arab Emirates such as the 6th and the 8th Annual Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival, Abu Dhabi, as well as Al Sharjah and Al Ain’s Book Fairs along with competing in the Great Student Competition and the Best Student-Teacher Award both held at United Arab Emirates University.


Sana Al-Falasi

Sana is a freelance illustrator who aims to highlight the innocence of childhood and the joy of simple things. Like many artists, Sana has been passionate about art since her childhood and has been a collector of picture books for many years.
Sana has illustrated two books for a workshop with Sxillab, a company based in Dubai, UAE. She has also taken several online courses with Lilla Rogers and Zoe Tucker such as “Make Art That Sells”. Sana has also traveled to Cambridge, UK, for the Children’s Book Illustration Summer Course in Anglia Ruskin University in 2018.
Illustrating stories from a child’s perspective and adding a twist of whimsy is what Sana often tries to demonstrate. She also experiments with different art materials to tell a story, and is especially inspired by her favorite artist, her son.


Shaikha Al-Shamsi

Shaikha Al-Shamsi has worked as an artist and illustrator for over 17 years; she is a self-taught artist. Shaikha’s artwork is mostly surrealistic in its nature drawing inspiration from the world of fantasy, imagination and different stories and tales told from new perspectives. Initially, her illustrations would go unnoticed in their original context. Currently, she is a freelance artist focused on her personal projects, illustrations, and stories. Shaikha had many freelance and commission artwork such as; (children’s storybook ‘’Courage Khalid’’ for a workshop organized by Sxills Company, 2019), (activity book Illustration for ‘’ Abdul Qader Al Rais 50 Years of Art celebration’’ organized by Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism, 2018), as well as (3 illustrations for Altair jewelry, 2018). Other personal projects include: (an illustrated ‘’unpublished’’ silent story ‘’Lost in your thoughts’’ prepared for The UAE Boards on Books for Young People “UAEBBY”, 2018). Moreover, two illustrations sketchbooks ‘’Awake in a dream, 2018’’ and ‘’Save the Broken lands, 2017’’. Shaikha has also participated in many exhibitions such as; The Artist Ally in ‘‘Middle East Comic Con’’ in Dubai 201-2019), as well as the ‘’Comic Craze’’ exhibition organized by Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism , 2018.


Wafa Ibrahim

Wafa Ibrahim graduated from the college of Fine Art and Design at the University of Sharjah. As part of her graduation project, she has illustrated a book, some postcards and a few installations; one of which was an enlarged wind up music box similar to typical music boxes. She was picked to have her work featured at the Sharjah Children's Book Illustrations Exhibition in the annual Sharjah Children's Reading Festival.