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Where great minds gather

February 4 - 10, 2015
Gulf Weekly Where great minds gather

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

THE kingdom’s artists and musicians are celebrating the recent launch of Bahrain’s one-of-a-kind art space aimed at inspiring local talent to create, share ideas and collaborate with one another, writes Mai Al Khatib-Camille.

Malja, which means ‘shelter’ in Arabic, is located at the entrance of Amwaj Islands, and aims to act as a hub for creative minds to gather and experiment as well as encourage emerging painters, writers and musicians to flourish.

Wafa Al Obaidat, 28, from A’ali, an entrepreneur and creative director of Obai and Hill design agency, said: “A few years ago I was running around Bahrain trying to get funding for this concept that nobody seemed to understand. For ages I talked about this space as though it was real but when I saw nothing was happening, I let it go.”

That was until energy drinks brand Red Bull, alongside retail distribution company BMMI, stepped in after spotting Malja’s online portfolio of different artists.

“They merged their concepts with the original idea and it’s finally here,” explained Wafa. “Malja is really a space designed by creatives for creatives. It’s an open platform for people to network or collaborate and also it’s a space that is accessible to organisations and companies to come in and commission work as well as meet the artists. There is real talent in Bahrain and the region that needs our support.

“To see the physical walls and everyone coming together, there are no words to express what I am feeling. I’m so happy that it worked out and it’s for Bahrain.”

Yasmin Elisabeth Hussain, BMMI’s brand, communication and CSR manager, said: “Malja is an exciting initiative that we are so proud to support with our partner Red Bull. We are confident that Malja will be a true success story by providing the facilities needed in the region, sharing creative knowledge, promoting engagement and bringing dreams to life.”

The venue, which can accommodate up to 250 people, had been renovated into a multi-purpose art and music centre including a gallery, café and art room, a stage for performances as well as a sound production studio.

During the launch event, hosts Ali Fingerz and Ameera Ali introduced the visionaries behind Malja while artists, curators and enthusiasts mingled and shared their thoughts about the new art haven.

Artist Mariam Alumran, 28, from Riffa Views, said: “It’s relaxed and chilled and open to everyone who wants to be inspired.”

Throughout the evening, people broke out in impromptu jam sessions and break dance battles while street artists tagged the venues walls.

Writer Natasha Burge, 32, visiting from Saudi Arabia, was impressed. “I think it will have a ripple effect and inspire the whole region,” she said.

Szabi Nigo, 37, a music teacher at the British School of Bahrain, from Hamad Town, added: “This will give me a chance to meet other creative minds and maybe even jam a little.”

Malja is open daily, from noon to 5pm and is free for all. However, depending on the event, workshop or use of the facilities, there may be an entrance fee. The gallery space will showcase a permanent contemporary art exhibition annually, alongside four additional separate quarterly exhibitions.

For details on Malja and its activities visit  www.maljabahrain.com

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