Virus school closure turns aspiring financier into Islamabad’s favorite pet portraitist

A German Shepherd puppy is sitting still while Arbaz Malik is completing its portrait in Maqbool Market in F7 Islamabad on Aug. 5, 2020. (AN photo by Sib Kaifee)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Virus school closure turns aspiring financier into Islamabad’s favorite pet portraitist

  • In front of a veterinary clinic in Islamabad’s F7 sector, a 19-year-old artist set up a pet portrait studio
  • Malik began painting at a young age, but animals entered his canvas only last year, when his beloved cat went missing

ISLAMABAD: With a science certificate in his pocket, Arbaz Malik was ready for college when the coronavirus struck and shut the door of his dream school. Putting the 19-year-old’s education on hold, the pandemic has, however, opened to him a strikingly different career path: pet portraiture.

In front of a veterinary clinic at a small market in Islamabad’s F7 sector, Malik set up a tiny pop-up studio which draws attention with a rainbow sign “Paint Your Loving Pet” and furry customers waiting for their turn to be captured in paint.




Arbaz Malik, 19, setting up his pop-up studio in Maqbool Market in F7 Islamabad on Aug. 5, 2020. (AN/Sib Kaifee)

“I was very excited for school to begin, I am aiming to get a Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) degree,” he said. But as the pandemic made everything become uncertain, the current job as a pet portraitist gives him “a positive thing to look forward to every day.”

Malik’s engagement in the arts began at a young age, but until recently he was trying to master landscape and cityscape painting. Animals entered his canvas only last year, when his beloved cat Shpanty went missing.

Heartbroken, unable to find Shpanty, Malik eventually painted her portrait from a photograph. Seeing the result, his brother, Arsalan, advised him to think about turning talent into a career.




Arbaz Malik's cat Shpanty went missing in 2019. Her portrait, left, was Malik's first step into the pet portraiture business. (Photo courtesy: Arbaz Malik)

“My brother suggested that I come here to the same place we would bring our cat, and see if pet parents going in and out of the clinic might be interested in getting their pets painted,” Malik told Arab News while painting a German Shephard pup patiently sitting next to his easel.

“Three months ago, with the support of the clinic, I began my business.”

Dog, cat, bird, and even horse owners have since become Malik’s faithful and broad customer base. His paintings have already traveled across the world into homes in Canada and France with repeat customers commissioning him to paint pet portraits which they carry abroad as gifts for relatives and friends.

When his college reopens, Malik wants to attend classes full time, but says he will not give up art.

“I will always do both, even after my studies are complete,” he said, “I love painting too much.”

He also loves animals, which is what he and his customers have in common.

“Pets are so important, you love them, they are beautiful and innocent, and they really are your best friend,” Malik said, “They even help you fight off depression, because their support and love are unconditional.”


WHO lauds Pakistani frontline workers as 'real heroes' in polio fight

Updated 24 October 2020

WHO lauds Pakistani frontline workers as 'real heroes' in polio fight

  • 270,000 frontline workers participated in the nationwide anti-polio vaccination campaign last month
  • Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only countries where polio can be found, after Africa was declared polio-free in late August

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Polio Day on Saturday by recognizing the hard work of thousands of Pakistani polio workers, as a nationwide immunization drive resumed after a months-long coronavirus hiatus.
According to Pakistan Polio Eradication Program data, 270,000 frontline workers participated in the door-to-door vaccination campaign last month after the government suspended nationwide polio efforts between April and July to focus on COVID-19 response.
"They are our real heroes in this effort, and with the provided support, they have made us proud by vaccinating millions of children during each campaign," WHO Pakistan representative Dr. Palitha Mahipala said, as quoted by local media.
He added that the WHO and its government and non-government partners are "working hard to ensure that Pakistan can be the next country on the journey to a polio-free world."
Polio is a highly infectious disease, which mainly affects children under the age of five and can cause paralysis or death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective means of protection against it.
The next polio eradication campaign will be starting on Monday, in 128 districts of the country, aiming to give polio drops to 31 million children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan remain the only countries where polio can be found, after Africa was declared polio-free in late August. Pakistan has registered 79 polio cases since the start of the year.