As the world continues to battle a global pandemic, we wanted to put out an issue that honored those who have suffered and lost loved ones by looking forward, beyond the lockdowns and anxieties that are consuming our daily lives.
That’s why in this issue, we aim to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and pay homage to our ability as individuals and communities to overcome loss and adversity.
New beginnings are a universal phenomenon, but one that particularly resonates with Iraqis wherever they may be. As a society, we have always managed to carve out beauty from the monolithic realities of war and exile, and now a global pandemic. In this issue, we hear from different voices around the world that reflect on the ways in which these beginnings intersect with Iraq, its culture and some of the key issues Iraqi communities face around the world.
We hear from Maya Gebaily, who recounts how her time in Baghdad as a journalist was filled with new beginnings, and from Ali Al Saffar who makes the case for renewable energy in Iraq. We hear from Sundus Abdul Hadi who introduces us to her father’s lifelong passion for revitalizing Baghdad’s historic center, and from Maryam Al Dabbagh who interviews an up and coming photographer from Mosul who uses his lens to capture new beginnings in a city that has been way too used to dead ends. We listen in on a voice note exchange between Maral Bedoyan and Marwan Shakarchi, a UAE based artist who transforms building exteriors into beautiful artscapes that inspire new beginnings in the hearts of onlookers.
But new beginnings mean something vastly different to each person, something that Raya Al Jadir tackles in a raw, honest reality check for anyone sick of hearing the optimism powering new beginnings. Iraqis particularly have been sold a steady stream of lies, under the guise of new beginnings, something captured brilliantly by another Poorcreatures cartoon.
This was a difficult issue to publish. We worked on it with our lives turned upside down by a pandemic that saw some of our collective members joining meetings from a hospital room, others uninspired to be creative at a time when our mental health was at its wit’s end. But that is where the beauty of new beginnings lie, they can emerge from a dance, like the Chobi, beautifully illustrated by the talented Dina Al Hamdany, or a reinterpreted fairy tale, like the remixed 1001 Nights by Zainab Al Mufti, or a reimagined city by Mohammad Salim, or a reminder that Iraq, has in fact been churning out new beginnings for thousands of years as researched by Zahra El Khazragi.
We hope that this issue fills your days with the spirit of renewal that we all need to make it to better days.
Riezan Al Haddad
Maryam Al Dabbagh
Dina Al Hamdany