Haela Al Waary, a Palestinian refugee who has grown up in Bahrain, is on a
mission of art and on a journey she hopes will one day take her back to
is exhibiting across the Middle East to mark the designation of her home city
as the 2009 capital of Arab culture by the Arab League.
is the largest show that I have ever staged," said Haela, 47. The
exhibition, with the theme of longing for the homeland, is titled 'Jerusalem:
Here and there 2009'.
here I mean, here in my heart, and that is where it will always be," she
highly-acclaimed contemporary artist told GulfWeekly of her memories of fleeing
Jerusalem and how it has inspired her to paint. Israel occupied east Jerusalem
in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, but the Palestinians see the city
as the capital of their future state.
said: "After the declaration of the honoured chosen city, I decided to
conduct a number of exhibitions across the Arab nations about Jerusalem, my
started my first display in Jordan. Over 300 people came on the first day and
it was such an honour to be surrounded by so many art enthusiasts, famous
painters and fellow Palestinians.
left my home when I was five-years-old by force on the first bus to Jordan. I
remember it like it was yesterday.
bridge was falling apart; everyone was in complete chaos and filled with grief.
I recall the sadness and the goodbyes. This will forever be imprinted in my
don't think any child should feel that pain. We left since my father worked in
Jordan and a bus from the Red Crescent charity came to pick us up.
images in my mind created my first Palestinian exhibit."
was staged in Juffair and entitled 'Remains of Memories - Remains of Trace'.
Jerusalem became the capital of Arab culture for 2009, I knew that it was a
sign to delve further into my psyche and show the world the beauty of Jerusalem
from my eyes," she added.
took to the canvas painting images of the forgotten family members wishing her
farewell and of the old city which she holds dear to her.
of the Masjid Al Aqsa, the Islamic holy place in the old city of Jerusalem, can
be found in various parts of her work, along with the wall that now separates
the Palestinians and Israelis and any other symbols that represent her
said: "I have not been back to Palestine since the horrible ordeal in
1967. After bussing it to Jordan with my family, we moved to Bahrain and this soon
became my home.
I never forgot about it and I decided to use art as a means to express what I
are three stories that come to mind. During the war, my family and I would seek
refuge in a bunker.
day my mother ran up when things settled to make sure the neighbours were OK. I
ran after her and upon opening the door I saw two large Israeli soldiers right
in front of me.
were so tall and I couldn't make out their faces. I do remember them saying in
Arabic "back to your home, back to your home". I was scared and went
is the first memory. The second is on the bridge saying goodbye to my family
and friends and the third is also on the bridge ... but it was us walking
Haela Al Waary today revealed the agonies of war and the anxieties of a child
caught up in the middle of conflict.
spoke of her inner most feelings for the first time as she embarks on a Middle
East mission to highlight Jerusalem which she fled during the Six Day War with
Israel in 1967.
said: "During all the commotion I dropped the doll my father had given me.
I had named it Imad. The doll fell over the bridge so I screamed "Imad
fell off the bridge over the River Jordan!
was then that some older boys attempted to jump off the bridge to save Imad not
knowing he was a doll. My mother and sister quickly rectified the
misunderstanding telling them to leave it as it was only a doll.
to this day, I have never bought another toy or doll for fear that I will lose
it as I did my beloved Imad."
has poetically captured these moments in her paintings. After an exhibition in
Jordan, she returned to Bahrain to gather up more of her belongings and made
her way to the Syrian capital of Damascus where she displayed her work at the
Al Sayyed Gallery earlier this month.
of supporters attended the show to offer support to Jerusalem's capital of
has now returned to Bahrain before her next exhibition in November in Tunisia.
her art takes much of her time, she also uses whatever free time she has to
spend with her family and working on many charities in Bahrain.
is an active member of the Women for Jerusalem Society in Budaiya, where she is
"I have an office to organise charities and campaigns while I paint in the
other room. We also have a room filled with Palestinian hand-crafted items and
a library. There are quite a few young girls participating in the society and
many mothers, Bahraini and foreign.
society proves that Arab women are constantly fighting for the Palestinian
cause. We are working together to bring food and supplies to all those injured
in the recent Gaza war.
were actually the first group from Bahrain to visit Gaza along with other
groups from Egypt carrying a huge supply of medicine, food and other
necessities to hand out to the sick, injured and starving.
weren't allowed into Gaza but along the border. The second they stopped the
bombings we were able to head down there. It was a difficult trip and we all
got sick from the gases and long journey. It was worth it though.
are planning another campaign for Ramadan in which anyone can donate money so
that we can buy food for the needy.
day though I will be visiting Jerusalem not as an activist but as a painter and
a Palestinian-born native.
is my dream to sit in the old city to paint and write. For the time being I am
taking a break from painting as this has taken a lot out of me.
I have time before the capital of culture is over, then I will have one last
exhibit in Lebanon but until then, my canvas is empty ... although the
possibilities are endless."