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Some 150,000 Londoners hail from the region — yet Middle Eastern women are often stereotyped, from the cliché of the suppressed housewife to the offensive notion that they are flashy and spoilt, wafting around designer stores.In fact, while wealthy Middle Eastern visitors may spend an estimated £1.25bn a year here, some of this city’s most exciting creative talents are of Middle Eastern origin, embracing the capital while drawing on traditions from home to instigate a refreshing international dialogue. Noor Fares, Jewellery designer, 30 I’m a Londoner above all else,’ says Noor Fares, who first moved to the capital in 2009. I grew up speaking the language and learning the history.Kahil arrived back in London 12 years ago with a plan to stay for six months but fell in love with the city.‘Now I can’t imagine leaving — London is a hub of creativity and internationalism.‘Living in London taught me that it was not good enough to have three degrees, you need to have a passion.’ She began helping at her aunt Fariba Farshad’s influential cultural consultancy Candlestar, which produces large events such as Photo London.Attending glamorous parties, she spied a gap in the market.The initial solo exhibition in Beirut was well-received.
She’d say: “It’s not because I don’t trust you, I don’t trust society.”’ Anum Bashir prides herself on her internationalism.Like Fares, she feels her work now creates a link with her Middle Eastern heritage. It is fascinating because they express themselves in hugely creative ways.Even a trip to the grocery shop can become a fashion parade.’ Not that this is the only string to Maleki’s bow.It gives you this drive to push your limits, that’s why I came back.’ She enrolled in a master’s at the RCA in communication, art and design, and has lived in east London ever since.Now 36, her most famous work ‘In Your Home’ is a series of semi-nude self portraits in the homes of friends across the world.
‘In many ways, the art scene there is very liberal,’ says Kahil.