Omar Sharabaty performs fire art in Jerusalem


Mohammad Abu Rmeleh

Blog Post

Fire Performer Naromar Introduces New Art Form to Jerusalem

There’s a well-known Arabic saying, which even appears in various song lyrics: “Don’t play with nar [fire]—you might burn your fingers.” Different languages also use fire as a metaphor for risk and danger. But one Jerusalemite has made playing with fire his own personal trademark.

Omar Sharabaty, also known as “Naromar” (Fire Omar), is a 27-year-old Palestinian Jerusalemite who decided to create a new art form. Already with some training in the use of nunchaku (a martial arts tool) and dabkeh dancing and with a BA in sociology, he combined his skills into fire performance. Largely through trial and error, the self-taught Omar mastered what he refers to as “flow art,” the first art form of its kind in Jerusalem.

Palestinian fire artist Omar Sharabaty—"Naromar”

Palestinian fire artist Omar Sharabaty "Nar-Omar” showcasing his talent in fire performance and flow art in Jerusalem, July 22.


Husam Ghanem

Self-learning in the Face of Challenges

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Omar’s journey in art expression started at the age of 18, just before graduating from high school. More specifically, it was just 15 days before taking the anxiety-inducing Tawjihi general secondary final exams that Omar decided to take up dabkeh, the folk dance that he thinks every Palestinian must learn. He signed up at Siwar Association for Culture and Arts in East Jerusalem, where he trained extensively.

Omar graduated from high school and pursued his BA in sociology from Birzeit University, all the while keeping up with his dabkeh training. Soon enough, he became a full-time dabkeh trainer for children.

Siwar Association for Culture and Arts

An independent nonprofit that runs cultural and artistic programs for young Palestinian Jerusalemites

Omar Sharabaty with children in Jerusalem

Omar Sharabaty at a workshop with children in Jerusalem. 


Omar Sharabaty

When asked about what drove him to dabkeh in the first place, Omar explains that this powerful folkloric dance form had always appealed to him. His timing might also have been a way to deal with the stress of the upcoming school exams (a critical milestone that would determine his college options), not to mention the anxiety of living under military occupation and political unrest. Omar and his family lived in the Old City of Jerusalem, and their home has been the target of demolition orders; it remains under the threat of eviction. The family has since moved to Beit Hanina.

In light of the stressful conditions, Omar turned to art expression and community building. The COVID-19 lockdown offered the time and space he needed to invest in his skills.

“I really made use of that time,” Omar recalls. “It was during the coronavirus pandemic that I dedicated my time, energy, and efforts to develop my routines.” He became adept at using social media platforms, especially Instagram, to connect with and introduce his work to the world.

Fire Performance as “Flow Art”

In his fire performances, Omar includes dancing, circus, and movement rhythm. Basically, he and the fire would be in sync, as he makes use of music and motion to follow through. His aim has been to join the practice of dance with the theories he accumulated from his degree in sociology, which helped him “explore ways to mirror people’s needs” in his performances. Meanwhile, the duration of his shows depends on the audiences and the overall intention of the events.

When asked about the risk element involved in his art performances, Omar points to the bruises on his wrists. “Of course, you’re dealing with fire here,” he affirms in a serious tone but with a little grin. He exudes the confidence of someone who has mastered the techniques of his trade. When he performs, one gets the sense that he has befriended the fire. He focuses on the fire’s gentleness rather than its lethality.

“Beyond entertainment, there’s a lot of emotion involved in this art form,” he clarifies. The emotion he refers to is connected to the allure of artistic expression. It’s difficult to explain, he says of the reactions of fear, anticipation, wonder, and awe that he has seen in his audiences who have marveled at his courage in playing with fire. On the other hand, he as a producer is also engrossed in activities beyond the performance itself. “I am integrating business, marketing, and art together, but in doing so I am using emotion,” he explains.

“Beyond entertainment, there’s a lot of emotion involved in this art form.”


The mere experience of instilling emotion and human sentiment is significant, as Omar sees it. He vividly recalls an individual who shed tears upon seeing his fire performance, and this, in his opinion, is an important outlet that may have therapeutic effects.

“The most important thing for me as an artist is to read the room and improvise in a way that meets the needs of the audience,” Omar stresses. “A performance for a wedding will be largely different than one for a videoclip, by the desert, or in an advanced artistic collaboration.”

Creating Art Spaces in Jerusalem

As Omar sees it, the artist cannot be separated from the audience. His goal has therefore been to integrate between “what one has” with “what people want,” and to make the best of one’s skills to fulfill the need and energy of the audience.

“People no longer search in their neighborhoods for theaters to attend, movies to watch, or dance performances to see.” Omar describes how social media has changed things for the upcoming generations. He believes that it is important to consciously create the space for art rather than be boxed in outdated models. Art buildings would be quiet and empty if their organizers simply hope for audiences to show up. Rather, it is the role of artists, creators, and organizers to make themselves accessible to the people.

“I created my own stage,” he explains, adding that he has worked on incorporating a sound system and what resembles a moving theater to his performances. Essentially, his aim has been to be approachable to people from different backgrounds, ages, and physical abilities, both digitally and in the street.

“The medium of dance expression is for people of all ages and abilities. Everyone can find therapy once they start pushing themselves out of the comfort zones.”

The challenges, however, are indisputable. “East Jerusalem is dead by 5 or 6 p.m.,” Omar admits. He believes he has a duty to contribute to life in Jerusalem and to offer something different. Depending on external aid leads to stagnation, he believes, and he insists that investing in oneself is crucial.

He believes he has a duty to contribute to life in Jerusalem and to offer something different.

Palestinian artist Naromar performs a form of flow art with fire in Jerusalem

Palestinian artist Omar Sharabaty "Nar-Omar" in a fire performance with body paint and dance in Jerusalem, July 22. 


Husam Ghanem

Omar has traveled to several parts of the world (including Morocco, where he had three fire performances) to showcase his talent. He felt welcomed in those spaces, especially as the Arab crowds in the region saw him not only as an artist, but as a Palestinian from Jerusalem: an identity that in and of itself brings up much emotion in those who are aware of the challenges of living under occupation.

When asked about whether moving abroad might offer better career opportunities, Omar dismisses the suggestion quickly: “My place is in Jerusalem.” He enjoys traveling, which he considers as a means “to recharge,” but he inevitably returns to Jerusalem. His drive comes from introducing this new art form and bringing a fresh experience to his hometown. “This is where the need is.”

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