Rabiya Mohamed Amjad

Intricate Art

Rabiya Mohamed Amjad, henna artist

Rabiya Mohamed Amjad
Henna Artist, Ruby Henna Designs

“I am a henna design artist. I have a Pakistani background, but I was born and raised in Bahrain. At school I was good at art and calligraphy. When I was in year 10, I picked up a henna cone just for fun and began experimenting with different designs. To test my skills, I did henna art for family and friends in my neighbourhood. Then one of my neighbours who owned a salon, invited me to come and work there. That’s how I got my start as a henna artist in Bahrain.

Eid is definitely my busiest time of year. We start getting busy in the lead-up to Eid. This time, my first Eid booking was at 8am on 1 June and since then I have been fully booked. I have been so busy that I’ve hardly slept! It’s the evening of 3 June now and my phone is still constantly ringing. Now that Eid has been declared for tomorrow, it’s ringing even more!

I have trained some henna artists and I manage a few of them as well. Even when I can’t attend a booking, there are other ladies that I can arrange to attend. Every client is important to me, so I make sure I tell each henna artists to be punctual, professional and neat. I also make sure that they can create a range of beautiful designs. Sometimes people find pictures of designs they like on Pinterest or Instagram. When I was a child it was all simple designs. These days even young girls know exactly what they want, so as a henna artist you have to be able to create everything from the simplest to the most detailed designs.

It’s also important to make sure that the henna has a nice colour. There is nothing worse than waking up on Eid morning and finding out that the henna is dull or too orange. Traditionally, people want it to be dark brown. I buy henna from one of the other leading henna artists in Bahrain (Um Saif) and I have been doing so for many years now. Alhamdulilah (Praise to God), I haven’t had any disappointments about the colour.

I think henna means happiness. Whenever you are happy you want to apply henna. People call me for birthdays, weddings, Eid…it’s nice to be able to share these happy moments with my clients. In Bahrain, henna is cross-cultural; Bahrainis, people from Arabic backgrounds, Pakistanis, Indians and even some western people love henna. Sometimes I get bookings from people living overseas, who will be visiting Bahrain for their holidays. They call me to plan it, even before they’ve arrived. I feel honoured when I get calls like this.

It’s very special to be able to make people smile on Eid, especially children. Little girls often love applying henna and their smiles make me very happy. It’s nice to be able to do something that brings joy to people.”

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