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Samah Abdul Rahim embodies the civilization of Iraq through her paintings

Samah Abdul-Rahim to Magazinet: -
- When I came to Sweden, I did not consider myself a stranger, but rather Sweden considered my second home.
- I love to embody the culture of my country through my paintings, because Iraq is an ancient culture that goes back thousands of years.
- Art means to me humanity, a happy life, positive energy, pleasure and delicate feeling.
Växjö • Publicerad 18 mars 2021
Foto: Maha Nasser

Samah Abdul-Rahim, an artist with a delicate feeling, uses the brush and the colors to embody one of the most ancient and oldest civilizations. A civilization dating back thousands of years, and that through her paintings, which are called Baghdadiat. Often these paintings reflect architecture, costumes, as well as literature, like her painting which embody the story of the Thousand and One Nights. Samah, an artist and singer from Baghdad, came to Sweden in 97, when the situation in Iraq worsened. Samah and her family chose to emigrate to Sweden in search of a safe life and a better future for her two children.

- I graduated from the administration and economics field. I worked after graduation in the central bank for seven years. After that, due to the bad conditions in Iraq, we had to emigrate, fearing for the future of my children. I had two children at that time. I chose Sweden because my siblings live in Sweden. When I arrived in Sweden, I did not consider myself a stranger, but rather considered Sweden as my second home. Therefore, I started directly learning Swedish, and finished the language learning stages within two years. Samah said and continued " After that I worked in the bread bakery "Växjö Bagarn" The largest bakery in Sweden. I worked in packaging for 12 years. Before that, I worked as a caretaker as a personal assistant. Working in the bakery was not achieving what I hoped for, but I wanted to rely on myself and I never wanted to rely on state aid. In addition, the work environment was good, so I continued work without complaining. But when I fell ill, I stopped working and had to undergo many operations. At the same time, "Växjö Bagarn" bakery went bankrupt after seventy years of work and success because other stores had their own bakeries, so production decreased and they went bankrupt."


Samah worked in administrative work as an activities officer for three years, replacing her friend Maha Ibrahim who was on maternity vacation. In addition to her administrative work, Samah worked in teaching Swedish to Arabs, Arabic to Swedes, and gave drawing and singing lessons, as well as lessons in oriental cuisine.

Samah points out that there was a group of Swedes there looking to learn Arabic and singing Arabic.

- I felt fun and excited while working with them, until I once took them to an Arab restaurant and left them ordering food in Arabic. It was a great experience for them. But then I stopped because of my health condition.

Samah did not give up to illness, and decided to fight her disease through her hobbies, which she loves, drawing, singing and cooking.

- I returned with passion for my hobbies, drawing and singing, and this helped me greatly in my recovery and improving my health.

How was your start with drawing?

- My talent for drawing started when I was three years old. My father is the one who developed this hobby for me. Because he loved and appreciated arts. But I couldn't join the Arts Institute, because there was an acceptance condition that I had to belong to the ruling party, so my father rejected the idea. I started drawing with watercolor, but after I came to Sweden, I discovered that there are modern colors, which are acrylic. I don't like painting with oil colors because it becomes faded after a period of time. In addition to its smell that I do not like.

Do you set up art galleries inside or outside Sweden?

I held three art galleries in Sweden. Where I held an art gallery in Grand Samarkand in cooperation with the Sensus, and another art gallery was in cooperation with "Maria Kyrkan" and there were a lot of sales for my paintings.

What do you like to embody through your paintings?


- I like to embody the culture of my country, because Iraq is an ancient, complete civilization dating back thousands of years. So, I like the embodiment of the city where I grew up in, "Baghdad". Therefore, there are many paintings that are called Baghdadiates, which embody the heritage, such as architecture, costumes and literature.

Samah is talented with singing, too. She says that her family encouraged her to sing, especially her father, who used to buy books containing the songs of great Arab singers for her.

Samah points out that she did not find the opportunity to study music in her country for political reasons. In Sweden there was no time for that, as she was busy working to secure herself and her family economically.

- Recently, I registered with The Voice program, the Arabic version, I did the interviews and all the necessary procedures, and when I intended to travel to participate in the program, Corona was knocking on our doors and quarantine appeared and air traffic stopped, and I could not participate, but I still intend to apply again.

What does art mean to you?

- Art means humanity, a happy life, positive energy, fun and a delicate feeling to me. In addition, I am grateful and proud of my second home, Sweden, the alternative homeland, where I find appreciation of my values and aspirations, preserves my dignity and believes in freedom and equality.

What would you recommend for arrivals to Sweden?

I advise arrivals to Sweden not to consider themselves strangers in this country, because this is their second home. They must integrate and contribute to building this country. Therefore, they must learn the Swedish language, rely on themselves, find work and create a decent life for themselves.

Foto: Privat
Maha Nasser
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