GULFWEEKLY: Four friends were driven by a collective vision to unveil Bahrain’s hidden gems through an innovative medium and after years of hard work and dedication, Loha in a Jam was born.
The 32-page Arabic-language book originated from the keen observations of Shaikha Aseel bint Khalifa Al Khalifa while watching a BBC Earth documentary presented by Sir David Attenborough.
“The documentary highlighted the abundant presence and significance of the Loha bird within the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Shaikha Aseel told GulfWeekly.
Intrigued by the revelation, she approached Shaikha Dwa bint Khalid Al Khalifa who shared her passion for promoting Bahrain’s culture and natural wonders.
Initial sketches of the grandmother, this was altered to have a more authentic look
Together, they formed a team with founder of A Wonder Within Muna Rabieh, and visual artist Noor Al Shalabi to formulate the book that beautifully captures the country’s treasures with vivid illustrations and engaging storytelling.
“Shaikha Aseel and I took charge of content creation, ensuring that the words resonated with our target audience,” said Muna, an author and educator who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration and a Masters in strategy. Her books feature strong social and emotional values and Loha Wa Al Muraba is her seventh story.
“Noor and Shaikha Dwa showcased their expertise by providing artistic direction for the book,” added Muna. “Together, the attention to detail truly captured the essence of Bahraini culture, from carefully crafting the appearance of characters to accurately depicting elements such as Trini jam, gardens and traditional clothing.”
The success of this project can be attributed to the numerous discussions that the foursome had throughout.
The initial conversations started a year and a half ago, when the concept and vision for the book began taking shape. In June 2022, they put together a manuscript. Later, they decided that translating the book from English to Arabic would best serve its purpose.
“Finally, after much dedication and perseverance, we are delighted to announce that our book was published in November 2023,” said Noor, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in visual arts and design. She has been immersed in the world of children’s book illustrations as a freelance artist for the past four years, during which she was involved in more than 80 books with each project bringing its unique challenges and joy. “It has been an incredible journey filled with learning experiences and growth,” she said.
According to Shaikha Dwa, a well-known artist and a co-owner of Artly Gallery which provides art and craft workshops for the community, ‘it was inspiring to witness the collective dedication in achieving a book that not only tells a story but also evokes a true Bahraini feel’.
“Each member of this team played an integral role in bringing this project to life,” continued the vice-president of Lamea Association, which is a national programme dedicated to youth empowerment. “The book serves as a gentle reminder to appreciate the often-overlooked wonders of our fast paced modern world. It encourages us to pause, take a moment and observe the beauty that exists all around us, and to maintain the childlike curiosity and sense of adventure within us.”
Apparently, there are even more stories and ‘treasures’ waiting to be shared.
“We believe that together, we can continue this journey and contribute to the cultural richness of our nation,” said Shaikha Aseel.
“In line with this vision, we are excited to share that discussions are underway regarding a new project centred on a national Bahraini bird. While we are keeping the details under wraps for now, it promises to be an engaging and captivating tale that will further showcase the beauty and heritage of our country.”
Loha in a Jam can be snapped up from a range of bookstores across Bahrain.