Bint Al Yasmine Is Dubai’s First Palestinian Women’s Society

Words by Hafsa Lodi

5 min read

Bint Al Yasmine is Dubai’s first Palestinian women’s society. MOJEH meets founder Dina Dahmash, who conveys her devotion to Palestine in a variety of creative expressions

Red gerbera daisies, whole watermelons and pomegranates, olive branches and gold keys (symbolising the ultimate return home) are arranged thoughtfully across embroidered tatreez runners placed on tables at Palestinian-owned olive station and creative space Mishkah, in Dubai. In the centre of the room stands a majestic olive tree, and from its branches hang portraits and family photographs shot in Palestine prior to the 1948 Nakba, which saw more than half of all Palestinians expelled from their homes and displaced to different corners of the world. “We aimed to transport guests back to a liberated Palestine, where our grandparents thrived,” says interior designer and founder of Bint Al Yasmine, Dina Dahmash. “The event honoured our ancestors, emphasising the power of storytelling and the profound statement that our mere existence is an act of resistance.”

“Bint Al Yasmine is an ode to Palestinian women. It is a celebration of our heritage and our cultural identity,” reads the welcome card. Photography by Misbah Chowdhury.

Dina started Bint Al Yasmine as a community platform to revive Palestinian history and celebrate her cultural heritage, while connecting Palestinians across the diaspora with initiatives and projects rooted in Palestine. “As Palestinians, we recognise that the role of a woman has always been the backbone of our society, and at Bint Al Yasmine we are committed to empowering women to reclaim their voice, their heritage and celebrate that essential role,” says Dina, who plans to launch an enriching programme of workshops and events that promote creativity, education and empowerment. Bint Al Yasmine translates in English to ‘Daughters of Jasmine’, which Dina says embodies the essence of a time when Palestine was flourishing. “Jasmine, a nostalgic scent in the Levant and Palestine, evokes memories of my grandmother, who often spoke of the fragrance of jasmine in the morning. The jasmine flower, with its feminine allure, seemed the perfect representation for this new project,” she tells MOJEH.

Every detail at Bint Al Yasmine’s gatherings are thoughtful and purposeful. Photography by Misbah Chowdhury.

Bint Al Yasmine is Dubai’s first Palestinian women’s society — but it isn’t just for Palestinians. “Today, more than ever, we understand that the Palestinian cause is universal, and we welcome every woman, whether Palestinian by blood or by heart,” says Dina. Her sold-out event last month at Mishkah featured a musical performance recorded by Gaza’s Sol Band (while sheltering in a tent in Rafah) as well as a live talk by Deema Al Alami, who spoke about her recent book 48 Stories of Exile from Palestine, which shares the narratives of descendants of Nakba survivors. “Deema reminded us that our stories serve as seeds from which resilience blooms — an act of resistance in itself,” says Dina. From musakhan to makloube, the menu featured traditional dishes from Palestinian grandmothers’ kitchens, recreated by private chef and supper club host Khalid Eats.

Private chef Khalid Eats curated a menu inspired by Palestinian grandmothers’ recipes for Bint Al Yasmine’s recent event.

“Every aspect of the evening was meticulously planned to evoke a sense of returning to our homeland,” says Dina, who visited her home country regularly before October 2023. “I have been fortunate to travel to Palestine since I was young, thanks to my father, who wanted to keep us connected to our roots.” In recent years, Dina has shared her experiences with fellow Palestinians in the diaspora, giving them tours of Palestine while helping raise awareness about the daily atrocities faced by its residents. “I believe the most effective way to educate people about the reality of Palestine is to take them there — seeing the occupation first hand is eye-opening and ignites a passion for advocacy and change, regardless of one’s background,” she explains.

Bint Al Yasmine’s recent event at Mishkah in Dubai was thoughtfully decorated to pay homage to guests’ Palestinian ancestors. Photography by Misbah Chowdhury.

Dina’s own activism is vitalised through creative outlets like photography and painting, which she uses to humanise Palestinians, document their lives and illustrate the layers of personality that colour the land itself. Her paintings feature portraits of locals amid flowers and flags, embodying emotions that are both meditative and hopeful. “While I aim to capture the reality of Palestine, my paintings always circle back to its fundamental elements: the land, its natural beauty and the yearning for its past glory,” explains Dina. Her advocacy naturally translates across to her work as an interior designer too, through which she often draws inspiration from Palestinian embroidery and craftsmanship. She is currently working on an upcoming homeware line collaborating with women in Palestinian refugee camps. And, in addition to finalising her plans for upcoming Bint Al Yasmine events and workshops in Dubai, Dina is also launching the community in London this September.

Prior to October 2023, Dina regularly travelled to Palestine. In addition to taking people on tours of her homeland, she would photograph residents to capture the experiences and emotions of life under occupation.

Access to her country might be unfeasible right now given the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, but Dina yearns to resume her visits to Palestine — and share its beauty with others: “From the rich cuisines, calming seas and old cobblestone streets steeped in spirituality to the ancient olive trees and fragrant scent of jasmine, there’s nowhere else in the world where I feel such a deep sense of belonging.” Learn more

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