The logo of Diwan is a graphic illustration of a sculpture relief carved by a Syrian artist named Ghazwan Issa. I bought the relief on my visit to an art exhibition in Abu Dhabi. I immediately recognised that it represents a man’s head and imagined the layers around it as an Arabian turban (Amama). I initially thought that this relief would be a good logo for Diwan for its cultural connotation that accords with Diwan’s main objectives. However, I contacted the artist and asked him to tell me about his vision of the relief.
He explained that the relief signifies a man who is going through an intense dilemmatic thinking. The layers, he said, are a flow of conflicting ideas which the thinker is determined to resolve. Oddly when I told the artist that I imagined the layers as Amama, his comment was that this is a visualisation he tried to avoid in order to emphasise the element of conflictive ideas. Artist’s vision reinforced my initial interpretation of the cultural element in the relief and encouraged me more to set it as a logo for Diwan.
Furthermore, the element of dilemma in the relief rightfully fits with my own dilemma about Diwan. Mainly, about developing it as a platform that meaningfully connects Arab audience, who are interested in Leadership, to the Western-based theories and practices of Leadership. Western scholars are taking creative paths towards conceptualising Leadership; art, philosophy, culture, psychology, theology. Conversely, Arab audience are generally confined to limited approaches, mostly related to Leadership style theories, and hugely confuse Leadership with basic management strategies.
The artist’s vision also resonates with dilemmas and paradoxes arising in current Leadership Studies. Consequently, the traditions of thinking about Leadership are changing and new waves of critical thinking are gaining more recognition. This shift then needs to be introduced to Arab audience for its intellectual value and to trigger broader cross-cultural perspectives. Such perspectives could immensely enhance the Western-based scholarly efforts in the field.
A final interesting point about the logo is the different visualisations it offers to its audience. I asked friends and colleagues of what they see in the logo without telling them about its original vision. Many has recognised a head but not the thinker or the dilemmatic element of his thinking. Some had imagined a bohemian man, a head of a falcon, totem or a headdress of a native American, others visualised the layers around the head as rows of books. This diversity of reflections could be perceived as a dilemma of visualisation in its own right.