Young Iraqi painter Rami al-Tamimi: “I draw energy from my disability”

Rami Al-Tamimi
Rami at the Kerka’an Bazar in Basra. Photo: Rami al-Tamimi

Basra, 1 September 2016- Disabled at birth and born to an art loving family in Basra Southern Iraq, Rami al-Tamimi, now 23, has grown into a fine artist. A spinal birth defect has affected his ability to walk. Yet, to Rami, the ancient city of Basra located on the Shatt al-Arab waterway, being part of the historic location of Sumer and also home to beautiful palm tree farms, has been quite an inspiration.

Highlights

  • UNDP’s EU-funded Local Area Development Programme (LADP- EU) supported Rami's participation in the Kerka'an Bazar amongst 40 talents
  • "For the first time, I received a job offer from one of the Iraqi satellite television channels to host a show for teaching people to paint,” says Rami
  • More than 7,500 families from diverse backgrounds visited the bazar over three days

Rami says his family has had the biggest impact on developing his talent since he was 5 years old. They struggled to school him at an early age due to lack of disabled-accommodating schools, but as soon as their efforts paid off, his paintings started to stir up curiosity and help him to build friendships.

 

“I draw energy from my disability”

Rami has been passing on his artistic and calligraphy skills and special painting techniques to young people and children through training sessions, whilst participating in local art exhibitions. 

Most recently, he was one of over 150 talented young men and women to participate in the Kerka'an Bazar in Basra, organized with the support of UNDP’s EU-funded Local Area Development Programme (LADP- EU) on 19-21 June 2016. LADP-EU directly supported his participation amongst 40 talents. 

At the bazar, Rami introduced to the Basri community a collection of 20 paintings, one of which he painted upside down in 7 minutes. “It was a remarkable success,” he recalls. More than 7,500 families from diverse backgrounds visited the bazar over three days to enjoy a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, potteries, handicrafts, traditional wear and poetry.

“My participation in the bazar provided me with a great opportunity to be known in the Basra society, amongst fine artists and in the media,” says Rami. “I was invited to participate in several local and regional art exhibitions; and for the first time, I received a job offer from one of the Iraqi satellite television channels to host a show for teaching people to paint.”

Rami, whose disability associated illness and rounds of pain had aborted his dream to specialize in medicine, has already made it to college to study computer software with his determination, indomitable will and the support of his family. He chose not to undergo surgery. “I draw energy from my disability,” he says.

 

“An inimitable talent”

The name of the Kerka'an Bazar came from an old Basri tradition organized on the fifteenth day of the holy month of Ramadan, where children go from door to door seeking candies whilst playing drums and chanting songs. The bazar has engaged civil society organizations and local businesses. 

“A first in the Governorate of Basra, the bazar succeeded in bringing members of the Basri community out of their shell following years of wars, conflict and instability since the eighties of the past century,” says the bazar Administrative Manager and Consultant at NOON Foundation for Culture and Art, Wissam Isam.

“Rami‘s participation was the most memorable because he defies reality in order to reach his goals and send a particular message to the world,” Isam added. “Rami has been able to draw a smile on the faces of children. He gave away paintings to over 30 children. Bazar visitors were fascinated by his exhibited artwork and swift public painting skills alike. He enjoys an inimitable talent, and new horizons have opened up for him.”

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