A nutritionist by qualification, young Omani entrepreneur, Fatma al Ardhi instead chose to embrace the world of art and recently opened her gallery, Fatma’s in Muscat, Oman. “I travelled a lot during my childhood and visited many art galleries,” she remarks. “Art always fascinated me; I was always drawn towards its beauty. I like being surrounded by beautiful objects.”

Having studied Nutrition, Fatma nevertheless realized that the subject was not fulfilling her – and that there was some other path calling out to her. “I wanted to do something better and bigger for the community,” she said, remarking that she was also additionally interested in working independently. Initially, she toyed with the idea of opening a bookstore before eventually settling down upon the idea of an art gallery. “At first, I had thought that [opening an art gallery] would be something that I would do when I was much older,” she says before remarking pertinently, “However, I was like, why wait till then?”

Inside the gallery

Especially dedicated to giving opportunities towards the Omani youth to showcase their artistic abilities, Fatima admits that she is gradually feeling her way around what is undeniably a novel terrain. “However, I feel that it is the right time to have opened the gallery and pursuing my dream, given the changes occurring in Oman’s cultural scenario, notably the opening of the Royal Opera House Muscat, for example,” she says.

Fatma’s quest is to therefore enable the youth to articulate and present their varied artistic voices. Indeed, as one strolls through her gallery, one spots visual art of all kinds, whether it’s digital art, photography, calligraphy, and works in oil. She has also given much thought to the pricing of the works. “It’s important for me to keep the art at affordable prices. In fact, I would especially like people to experience the joy of buying their first artwork for their new house or apartment from us,” she states, further emphasizing that art should be enjoyed by everyone, not just a privileged few.

While listening to her outline her journey and future plans for the gallery, it is evident that Fatma’s genuine and determined self-belief in realizing her dream has led her to where she is today.  “Yes, it has been an interesting journey from coming up with the idea of the gallery to actually opening it,” she says, elaborating that it is crucial to recognize that a university degree does not necessarily define you.  It simply paves the way ahead for dreaming of and realizing long-held aspirations. “If you feel like doing something, you should just go ahead with it,” she emphasizes. She also hopes that the youth will understand that a desk job is not going to guarantee them having a sense of fulfillment. “After all, it’s doing what you really enjoy that will ultimately provide that satisfaction,” she concludes.

–    Priyanka Sacheti

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