Dubai: Pakistani expatriate woman Rubab Zahra, a visual artist and calligrapher, has been a resident of UAE since 2012 and her love for the country has grown ever since, as she went about pursuing her passion in her second home.
The self-taught artist said she started her journey with art not too long ago, but she put her heart and soul into it. And her efforts have paid off as she has been recognised and appreciated by the UAE government.
Moving to Dubai
“In 2012, I got married and moved to Dubai. My husband, Aqeel Mumtaz, 36, is a Pakistani national as well but was born and raised here in the UAE and the UAE is pretty much our home. So you can imagine my excitement when I got the accreditation letter from Dubai Culture for the Golden Visa. That feeling of belonging to this land is even stronger now.”
The mother of four, Zain (12), Raya (9), Aqib (7) and Adnan (one-and-a-half years old), said she was grateful for this honour.
From a biotechnology graduate to an arts professional
Zahra, a biotechnology graduate, taught as a high school science teacher for two years at a school in Dubai. She said she could not continue teaching and was waiting for a suitable alternative opportunity to come by.
The UAE Golden Visa has given me immense confidence in my creative abilities. It means a lot to me that the UAE government has believed in my creative capabilities.
Art comes as a saviour
“Art came as a saviour,” she said. Zahra started practising art as a hobby initially in 2016. “That gradually turned into a full-time profession by 2017. Initially, I was very disheartened. Unfortunately, switching from science to arts was a step that did not go down well with some people. But my husband always supported me. It will not be wrong to say that my hobby turned into a full-time profession only because of my husband’s encouragement and support.”
Making a name in the art field
In the last two years, Zahra has done many exhibitions, including two solo art shows to create awareness on social issues and women empowerment. She has done volunteer projects such as painting a mural in Pakistan. “One of my paintings ‘Peace in our Hands’ also recently got selected to be in the permanent collection of Haegeumgang theme Museum, South Korea. I am thankful to the great leadership of this incredible country — UAE — that initiated this cultural visa programme.”
Growing in confidence
“The UAE Golden Visa has given me immense confidence in my creative abilities. It means a lot to me that the UAE government has believed in my creative capabilities.”
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Receiving the letter of her life
Zahra said that when she received the letter of Accreditation from Dubai Culture to apply for the UAE Golden Visa, her happiness knew no bounds. “For me, it’s not just about the long-term residency that comes with the visa, but the honour. It is a reward for my hard work, an answer to those who discouraged me from pursuing my passion. I sincerely hope my story inspires those who want to switch careers. My message to people is that they should never fear change.”
She recalled: “When I received my visa, I was at a social gathering and everyone was asking one another about their profession. Some were doctors, some engineers, bankers and so on. When my turn came, I proudly said that I was an artist. I managed my time to take care of my family nurtured my creativity as well. I faced many adversities, but continued to push through.”
“This visa is proof that no profession is less than another. You just need to be determined,” she added.