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Celebrating Diversity: High Artists from the Middle East

Diversity: High Artists from the Middle East

By Zelda Flowers

One of the most beautiful aspects of Natural Cannabis Company’s High Art competition is that it’s open to artists from around the world. Today’s divisive culture seeks to drive a wedge between us, focusing our differences into an “us versus them” mentality. But the truth that many cannabis enthusiasts seem to innately understand is that we are more the same than different and what differences we have only makes life more interesting and flavorful. In this series, we’re highlighting High Art artists from different regions, celebrating our shared loves, art and cannabis. Here’s just a few of the talented Middle Eastern artists who have entered High Art over the years:

Samya Arif
Karachi, Pakistan

Samya provided little personal information with their High Art submissions but her love of color and the influence of psychedelia is clear. The Infinities Series is particularly reminiscent of 1970’s funk art. The “Split your Infinities” series placed in the Top 30. Samya also submitted “Micropanda” and “Cherry Chapstick.”

Sana Nasir
Karachi, Pakistan

Sana is an illustrator who uses art as a creative expression of her thoughts on the human condition. Her art features bold colors and elements of both fantasy and science fiction, two themes Sana tries to incorporate into her work often because they represent the limitless of the human imagination. Sana entered her “Cosmic Coma” series into High Art 2015. View more of Sana’s work at

Reach The Highs
Reach The Highs

Buğra Bakrıyanık

Buğra submitted his “Big Head” series of images to High Art from Turkey. He likes smoking kush while listening to music and drawing. The lively palette of the Big Head series evokes tie-dye and blurred edges seem impressionistic in nature. He also submitted a new work for High Art 2017.

Rahema Zaheer
Pakistan/Saudi Arabia
High Art 2016 Top 30 w/ “Pappu Sains Dhamal”

Rahema used to love getting high in her native Pakistan but since relocation to Saudi Arabia, has had to curtail her cannabis use. Still, she manages to occasionally enjoy a joint on the sly and loves to use her high energy to create things.

Rahema has a powerful message about cannabis. In her own words, “I used to love getting high in Pakistan, it’s what opened my mind to new ideas and rediscovering myself. It has shaped me as an individual and as an artist and has truly taught me how to accept and love differences in people. It allowed be to break the shackles a regressive society like Pakistan would put around a female and made me question the norms I was born in. It changed the course of my life.”Pappu Sains Dhamaal

Her illustration “Pappu Sain’s Dhamal” placed in the High Art 2016 Top 30. The aesthetic is inspired by truck art psychedelia which is quintessentially Pakistani.

Her description of this incredible work: “The figure depicted in the illustration is Pappu Sain who is a devotee of saint Shah Jamal and gets high and dances (dhamaal) at the tomb of the saint to achieve oneness with god. This tomb is situated in Lahore, this is where I was born, which is why this ritual is so close to my heart. This phenomenon is remarkable for Pakistan because in a country that is so regressive and intolerant to any kind of drugs especially publically, a bunch of devotees and saints get together and these devotees along with the spectators (pilgrims, musicians, and foreigners both male and female) smoke up as a community and participate in this ritualistic demonstration of a spiritual high. Pappu Saien spins to the beat of the drum in fast circles trying to merge into the existence of god and the entire courtyard is full of smoke from all the joints that are lit. People pass the joints around as they watch this devotee lose himself to a state where the outside and inside world merges called “Qalandar”.

The text in the visual is “Dama dum must Qalandar” in Urdu. It is a common phrase written at the back of trucks and it means “To be one (with the universe) with every breath” and that is what the devotee is trying to achieve by getting high and playing his drum. To be one. The Dhamal at Shah Jamal’s tomb is a physical manifestation of the mystic, spiritual trancelike state inducing quality of hashish and is a very iconic part of the “Hashish Culture” for anyone in Pakistan.”

Marwan Lebbos

Marwan’s work “The Mighty Cat” features a beautiful palette of colors fused into a design reminiscent of butterfly wings and stunning agate geodes. He’s a self-taught painter and designer.

Moses Pini Siluk
Tel Aviv, Israel

Moses submitted “Tree of Knowledge/ Evolution of the Mind” to High Art 2017. His work features theme of connecting the past to the present and utilizes a method he calls “on-self portrait.” Upon studying the lives and works of the great masters, Moses imagines intimate conversations with them; about life, love, work and mostly art. After weeks of mental conversations, he imagines that they ask for him to take their portrait – but on himself.

These are but a few of the creators who have submitted to the world’s only cannabis-themed art contest. Stay tuned for even more profiles and information on these talented artists as well as information on High Art 2018!

Evolution Of The Mind