Safiya Al Bahlani is an Omani physically challenged young woman; an artist, creative designer and an inspirational and motivational speaker.
Safiya’s short forearms, a deformed left knee, and a short right leg stump is what people could see, however that was not her only challenge, she is deaf in her right ear, and also has a learning disability. Through these disabilities Safiya found a place to shine with her ability to express herself in arts.
Art began far before Safiya could read and write. It started with scribbles, when Safiya felt upset or angry she would just scribble on paper, not knowing how to express it any other form. Of course, Safiya had her happy times which she would express as well, but the real work was when she was feeling down.
Due to Safiya’s learning disability she had to jump from different schools, which caused Safiya to express her frustration of continued judgment, and she stopped drawing people, rather deciding to draw scenery and still life art. Safiya also started journal logging and used to write endless poetry.
After high school she continued her studies in graphic design in Muscat, where she moved after a year to pursue a different major, animation, in Jordan in 2007
While studying animation, Safiya continued painting and collected 38 pieces of artwork during the three years she spent in Jordan, holding her first solo exhibition February 2010.
Returning to Oman, Safiya was job-hunting; with a number of rejections several due to her physical disability… it was time for her start to advocating for people with special needs through her art.
During this process, Safiya met an Omani fashion designer and with 40 paintings and 20 dresses they held an art exhibition and fashion show, with the theme of His Majesty’s annual speeches.
Safiya started giving inspirational and motivational talks to companies and schools, events, as well as participating in three TED X talks, both locally and internationally.
Safiya was determined to carry her message, and advocate for people with special needs. With 70 paintings, Safiya held a second solo exhibition, The Growing Journey, in December 2012. In a very short period Safiya, painted 80 pieces of artwork and held her third solo exhibition Beneath The Surface in April 20.
In January 2016 there was yet another solo exhibition held called Flash Back, where Safiya exhibited a years collection of various emotional path she has gone through.
Through the work Safiya has been doing, Safiya was again invited to Qatar to give a talk on her story while having another solo exhibition Art Speaks in April 2017.
Safiya has since opened a micro business, an art studio and recently launched a small community gallery Safiya Arts Gallery and Studio, where she holds classes and workshops in arts, as she also continues to create her own art, and finding new ways to express different matters.