What would you say to Khalil Gibran if you were given the opportunity to spend five minutes with him? And to Rumi?
I would ask Gibran about his stay in Paris, when he was sponsored by his longtime patron, friend and editor Mary Haskell to learn more about art. He worked in the same space as Auguste Rodin – that trip must have had a profound impact on his intellectual and artistic development. Also, I would really want to ask Rumi, who was living in Persia then spent the rest of his life in Konya: Persian or Turkish cuisine?
Which story do you still dream of telling – and therefore singing?
It’s very difficult to pinpoint one story… We come from a very diverse and rich cultural heritage, there are many universal stories that resonate with humanity as a whole. The next story I will be telling is about Dido, queen of Carthage, also known as Elissar. She was a Phoenician princess and a phenomenal figure with an incredible story that translates to a wide variety of audience.
How hard is it to build bridges, like you do, between the Arab and the Western worlds? What should be done to change the perception Westerners have of us Arabs? Also, what is the most common misconception about being an Arab?
One of the most common misconceptions is that the Arab world is one big monolithic entity, one space, one perspective, with minimal variety and diversity; Largely consistent with negative broadcasts in the news. As an Arab artist I feel that it is my duty is to export the richness of Arab heritage in the stories that I tell, and to do so in a manner that translates to an international audience without losing, of course, any of the defining features of Arab identity. For example, when I worked on Gibran Khalil Gibran and Rumi’s lives, it was very important for me to humanize these abstract conceptual Middle Eastern figures that are so incredibly universal in their scope and whose work has impacted the lives of pretty much half the globe. It’s important to protect these human stories on a global scale, in a a way that makes them universally accessible.