Naqsh Collective x 81 Designs present A Thobe Story: Preserving Tatreez and Remembering Palestine at Abu Dhabi Art

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In a beautiful attempt to preserve the rich cultural, artistic and visual history of Palestine, sister-owned Naqsh Collective teamed up with UAE based social enterprise 81 Designs to create and exhibit a selection of hand-crafted Tatreez thobes for Abu Dhabi Art this November.



By Olivia Melkonian





Founded in Amman, Jordan in 2010, Naqsh Collective is composed of sisters Nisreen and Nermeen Abu Dail. The pair have exhibited work at a number of festivals and events within the UAE, Lebanon and the U.K. Inspired by intricate design and quality craftsmanship, the two sisters reflect a symbiosis of unique past and present traditions through hints of architecture, art practice and heritage.


10 thobes have been beautifully and delicately embroidered by Palestinian refugee women employed by 81 Designs. Through the organic creation of these pieces, the collaboration aims to explore missed experiences namely in Jaffa, Gaza and Acre. As a symbol of centuries of tradition, the thobes’ Tatreez rings true to the sister’s heritage, while also going beyond their time and resonating both with grandmothers and all of their future generations to come. This iconic design has been paired with an interesting approach to blend the Arab aesthetic with the contemporary simplicity, and completed through the utmost quality of local craftsmanship.





Our attempt in creating a Palestinian thobe is to imagine living our missing experiences of our beloved Palestine like jumping off Akka’s cliff and going on a fishing trip by Jaffa’s Port, and more.” says Nermeen Abudail, Naqsh Collective co-founder. Sister Nisreen Abudail explained: “We wanted the thobes to emanate the same cultural feel and reflect the same story as our brass work. The women from 81 Designs that we work with elevate the quality of local craftsmanship because of their hard work and stories shared during the process.


81 Designs aims to build bridges between art and humanity, Nesrine El Tibi Maalouf and Nadine Y Maalouf founded the enterprise in 2015 with a group of women residing in Lebanon’s Ain El-Hilweh Camp. Providing employment opportunities combined with the wish to include organic and local talent, 81 Designs seeks to modernise the traditional form of Tatreez while also promising brighter opportunities and sustainable futures for the women involved.


The synergy between 81 Designs and Naqsh Collective is rooted from our ideal to preserve tradition through the time-honored embroidery technique Tatreez. Through our collaboration, we aim to showcase the artisanal talents, while providing a platform for regional artists and designers to showcase their art in a different medium,” said Nadine Y. Maalouf, Co-founder of 81 Designs.


A Thobe Story will be exhibited at the virtual Abu Dhabi Art taking place next month from November 16 to 26. To stay up to date with all creations by the two organisations involved, visit Naqsh Collective’s website here and 81 Designs website here .