By Gabrielle. Photos by Ekaterina Ivankina and Ingrid Nielsen.
Amira is an artist in Abu Dhabi, creating her vibrant work up high on the 30th floor of a skyscraper. I wondered what her daily life was like, as an artist, an expatriate, and also as a Muslim who wears the hijab. She was gracious enough to discuss it all with us!
My day begins at dawn. A small alarm wakes me to get up and make the morning prayer. This is the first of the five prayers we will pray that day, and it is the shortest. It takes less than one minute sometimes and getting out of bed so early to prepare and make it on time, many days feels rough. After that, the sun begins to rise.
We live in a 60-story skyscraper in one of Abu Dhabi’s islands. On the 30th floor, the view is usually breathtaking. The ceiling-to-floor windows throughout our corner bedroom gives us this near-panoramic view of the city, and I draw so much energy from watching the sun rise over the waters and lighting up the terrain. I usually sit on the floor for a few, then do some meditation or journaling. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about my mornings because I tend to get really anxious at the start of the day.
For me, it’s the tug of business matters or social media. So I try and leave this for the middle of my day. I move into my rituals, lighting an incense or candle, making a pot of green tea, and then I head into my studio, which is a converted spare bedroom. I feel such peace in this room, and I love to paint as early as possible. I will break in a new canvas or do a few exercises on paper, often working on the floor with a podcast playing in the background. I feel like the freshness of the morning allows me to take greater risks in my work with no attachment to the end result. I’m just so entranced with the process and humbled that I get to do this for a living.
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