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Dr. Reem El Mutwalli in conversation with Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail from Naqsh Collective on “Story of a Dress”

The Zay Initiative aims to promote an understanding of the evolution of regional culture, building up public awareness and appreciation of this unique heritage, reaching out to like-minded individuals and institutions nationally, regionally and globally. In addition to seasonal or touring exhibitions and museum loans, the collection is accessed through the digital archive (Collection), first of its kind on a regional level, fortified by a pop-up glossary in both Arabic and English. The Zay Initiative aims to empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.

The Five Pillars of the Zay Initiative are: • Collect, document and conserve Arab dress and adornment.• Present and contextualise through a digital archive and blog.• Encourage intercultural dialogue to highlight our shared humanity.• Inspire and educate designers to create for a sustainable future.• Empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.

We look forward to welcoming you to this dialogue.


Through creative traditional designs, and delicate hand finish, naqsh collective was founded in 2009 in Amman, Jordan, by two sisters nisreen and nermeen abudail. Taking on their name -naqsh collective- (engraving: the first form of art done by a human to leave his print), they started to exhibit unique pieces of art, and design. Reflecting the oriental feel and integrating the beauty of their rich culture, the sisters re-engage with it again through shapes, meanings, and compositions. nisreen & nermeen are inspired by both contemporary and traditional Arabic aesthetics, combined together with high quality of local craftsmanship. naqsh collective has participated in national and international events such as Milan Design Week, Amman Design Week, Design Days Dubai and Saudi Design Week, VENICE DESIGN 2018, and in museums in Lebanon, Sharjah, Ramallah and Jerusalem. In 2018 naqsh collective is shortlisted as one of the nine finalists for the Jameel Prize 5


Born in 1976 in Amman, Jordan. nisreen received her B.A. in Architecture from Jordan University for Science and Technology. An architect inspired by the minimalist style of our contemporary life, she began her career in Jordan. Architecture as a discipline allowed her to observe and practice art and design. As an aspiring artist, she started creating personalised jewellery, art pieces, and furniture. Soon she began to exhibit her work at local art venues. Following her move to the USA, she continued to develop her career as an architect and an artist where she exhibited her artwork in several local and national art shows. Returning to Jordan in 2009, nisreen founded naqsh collective along with her sister nermeen abudail and the journey began.


Born in 1980 in Amman, Jordan. After graduating with a BA degree in graphics, nermeen began her career in Jordan working for prominent local and international agencies. She is now living in Dubai, working primarily within the branding industry creating identities and transcending brands. Along with her sister nisreen abudail, she founded naqsh collective in 2009, dedicating her artistic talent and passion for creative expression to create work embodying local culture with an international appeal.


Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, is a published author, lead curator and public speaker. With over 30 years of experience, she is an expert consultant in Islamic art and architecture, interior design, historic dress and UAE heritage.

She is also the founder of the Zay Initiative. A non-profit UK registered initiative advancing the preservation of cultural heritage, through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. Our goal is to empower and sustain global cross cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds.


Raised in the Middle East, educated in the UK, Emma has a profound understanding and passion for bridging gaps regarding culture and business, whilst navigating geo-political environments.

Emma is a highly motivated, award winning, experienced project leader, communications and business development professional with over 15 years’ experience.

As the Festival Director of Dubai Lynx from 2011 to 2016, she strategically grew the event and left a legacy, building the foundation that sees the festival thrive across multiple markets today. Now an entrepreneur and mother, Emma set up ‘Chameleon’, helping businesses reach their potential whilst ensuring they do better for good.