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Ya Haif

Maryam Jamal

Ya Haif

Salem Al-Allan and Ahmad Bu-Tabanya  


(Start from top left to bottom right)


AlFidjeri is a style of music sung by the pearl divers in Bahrain. A lead singer is backed up by a choir of accompanying singers and a clapped rhythm. Pearl diver singers are referred to in Arabic as “Nahham" (نهام‎).


The installation begins by telling the story and history of the origins of the AlFidjeri genre. First with Jinn (الجن) and then pre-Islamic hymns that were embedded in the hearts of sea-faring men and pearl divers. It then moves to the different styles of dance related to AlFidjeri: Nasha (النشّة), Qafa (القفّه), Kasra (الكسرة), Sahhab (السحاب), and the gestures “Ema'at” (الإيماءات). It later explores the ship used by sailors, and the embellishments and compositions written by Al-Allan and Bu-Tabniya. Followed by the instruments that were used specifically for Fidjeri like the Jahhla (الجحلة) and Mirwas (المرواس‎), and the depiction of Al-Allan and Bu-Tabniya's trip to Paris to have the music professionally recorded for UNESCO. The following depicts the subject of the song, which is a romantic tale of a woman wearing an anklet that stole the singer's heart. She was as beautiful and graceful as a Doe. It later depicts a famed quote that was embedded in the Fidjeri community, only by the way it was sung by Bu-Tanbiya, unrivaled and unmatched. The installation then ends with Al-Allan's autobiography as an employee in The Ministry of Works, how he lost his sight in his last years, and illustrations of a musical session known as a Jalsah (جلسة) of the dancers and artists playing Fidjeri music.


The installation is made with ink and spray paint on wooden pieces. The artist chose wood because it is the cornerstone of boat building, and spray paint to add a rough but classic and nostalgic feel. The gradient signifies
the colours of the sunrise & sunset, as the sailors and pearl divers began their trips to the sea at dawn and returned
at sundown.

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