KHARTOUM (Sudanow) (Amani Gandoul) - Khulood Kibaida had to leave her profitable job as a secretary in a large and profitable enterprise in Khartoum
to accompany her husband, who is recently recruited in a gulf country. However, her sacrifice paid off when she found that she still could make it there too; not only gaining more money but also practicing a dear hobby, she cherished so much: designing and embroidering.
This art she applied to the Sudanese toab, a garment that looks like the Indian Sari, but which, unlike the Indian dress, covers both the head and the belly. This is a national dress which she believes is tightly related to Sudanese women and national identity. “The toab had always been a characteristic of the Sudanese women, in fact a reflection of their beauty”, maintains toab designer and embroider Khulood Kebaida.
In her workshop Khulood, as one of the pioneers in toab design and embroidering, is surrounded with a world of beauty and creation while she works in silence, planning and designing toab forms and embroideries driven by her motto: “Who Wears What!”.
She is the first Sudanese woman to design the silky evening swareh toabs, creating new designs unknown before.
She began her work at a workshop in Saudi Arabia and then moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where she launched an embroidery center that gained her publicity.
Like many other artists Khulood carried a restless soul. She organized heritage shows and activities in the UAE cities of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
In her Khartoum’s workshop, Khulood designs and draws images on cloth and supervises her skillful working staff. She begins designing an attire after seeing the customer. Seeing the customer helps her select the colors, the cloth and the yarn.
A toab she designed had won the first award of an exhibition organized at the state conference hall (the Friendship Hall) here in 2010. The expo was organized under the motto: My Toab Is My Identity. The winning toab was bought by the country’s first lady Fatima Khalid. It was made of white Swiss-made Total fabric decorated with hieroglyphic symbols and other shapes taken from the Sudanese heritage.
Toabs worn by President Al Bashir’s second wife Widad Babiker and wife of former intelligence chief Mohamed Ata, Ms. Maha Alsheikh, during a conference of African first ladies, organized on the sidelines of the African heads of states summit conference, also won her good appreciation.
The Egyptian theatre star Duaa Taiyma participating in the Buqa’a annual theatre festival here had admired her designs. Also the Lebanese singer Hoyam Younis had put on a toab of her design during an exhibition set by the Sudanese Embassy in Beirut. A toab of her making has been given to Susan Mubarak, wife of former Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, as a gift.
Khulood says Christian Coptic families usually approach her in December to design toabs for the jirtig and henna wedding ceremonies of their would-be brides.
She says she is unaware from where she had acquired that talent: from her Turkish roots or from her Shaygi origins in the Northern State where her grandfather Kebaida belonged.
In her toab designs, Khulood seeks harmony between the cloth, the yarn and the jewels, beads and other accessories.
“Despite the heavy toil, I find this work quite enjoyable,” she says.
“It is a bit of a challenge to design new forms unseen before,” she says.
She says she keeps looking in the internet websites for new ideas, but has interest in designs that reflect the Sudanese culture and environment.
She says she is always inspired by the Red Sea environment where she was brought up as a young girl. This is visible in her designs in which she uses images of sea shells in her work.
Khulood is keen to design images that suit all occupations and ages.
She had participated in several expos and fashion shows inside Sudan but could not respond to invitations to participate in such functions in England, America and Chad, for personal reasons.
Beside toab designs, Khulood Kebaida designs uniforms for corporate bodies and schools as well as wedding dresses.
She is known to have helped many girls learn this trade, without any fear from competition. Her motto in this has always been: Survival Is For the Fittest.