Bijli is a company focused on creating work that encourages diversity across cultures and art forms for Scottish and UK communities, and beyond.

Founded by Writer and Producer, Mariem Omari, and Director, Umar Ahmed, their collaboration has been nationally recognised for its ground-breaking approach to the creation of Physical Verbatim Theatre, and their authentic representation of the diversity of the Scottish community.

Driven by a commitment to create work that is guided by innovation, truth, and humanity, Bijli from its inception is reaching new audiences through the creation of dynamic, socially engaged work, that has a visceral impact.

Meet the Team

Mariem Omari

Artistic Director and Co-founder

Having grown up in Australia, Mariem initially moved to her father’s homeland in the Middle East to work as a humanitarian, where she worked with refugees and survivors of violence. This inspired her ongoing commitment to promoting stories that strengthen the voice for equality. Her next move was to her mother’s homeland – Scotland – where she has been working closely with ethnically diverse communities to explore issues often considered taboo. This has led to the creation of her socially engaged theatre and projects including If I Had A Girl…, One Mississippi, and A Knot A Day, that explore issues such as migration and displacement, honour violence, and mental health.

Her writing also spans essays and creative non-fiction, and she continues to work internationally training Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa. Her latest play, Revolution Days, about her experiences as an Aid Worker, and showcased in 2021; and her audio piece The Jinn in Me about Jinn beliefs and their impact on mental health will broadcasted on BBC platforms in 2021.

Stephen Barnes_Headshot

Stephen Barnes

Adviser and Dramaturg

Stephen is a writer, director, performer and filmmaker; whose work spans a wide range of disciplines, media and contexts. He has directed thirteen productions and authored fourteen produced plays for stage and screen.

Stephen has initiated and facilitated projects focussed on empowering participants to transcend their circumstances through creativity, in the UK and South Africa - including collaborations with The Playwrights Studio, Ankur Productions and the BBC. As well supporting a variety of creative artists and organisations individually, he is also the Artistic Director of 4word Creative Arts, and the Facilitator of Write Tron For All for the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.

Leila Talmadge

Designer, Marketing Adviser and Project Admin

Leila is a neurodivergent designer, specialising in interiors and graphics. Her work spans various industries all with a keen interest in consistent branding with a strong aesthetic. She develops brand strategies with clear identities, ensuring all platforms use the same design language.

Social media management and project management experience across multiple sectors, she can apply her organisation style easily to each task required.

Born in London but now based in Glasgow, and with her trusted sidekicks, Marlene and Rodney the French Bulldogs, Leila was also the Chair of the Board of Trustees to a National Children's charity for over 10 years, so has a strong desire to support social enterprise projects that "give back to the community" and encourage diversity and inclusion.

Umar Ahmed Headshot

Umar Ahmed


Umar's first play Sylhety was performed in Dhaka. He also wrote and directed Lupo for Grahamstown Festival, South Africa, and he directed and co-wrote How to make a Killing in Bollywood.

Other credits include: My Name Is (Tamasha Theatre Company), Eclipse (Necessary Stage Company, Singapore), Re-Union (7:84 Theatre Company, Scotland), Damascus Aleppo and Could You Please Look into the Camera (National Theatre of Scotland/Oran Mor), Theatre UnCut (Traverse Theatre, Scotsman Fringe first), The Old Curiosity Shop and Rallying Round (NTC Theatre Company), Brrr... Arabian Nights (Proteus Theatre), The Animal People (The Bare project), Taggart (TV), Big Sky, A World Elsewhere, Going Spare and Early Belt Present (BBC Radio 4), and If I Had A Girl… (Showcase 2016 and National Tour 2017).

Bijli Board

Learn more about our Board Members

Our Mission

Bijli’s mission is to create productions and projects of artistic excellence that enable people to see diversity differently by exploring important social issues.

Our Vision

Our vision encompasses:

  • Reaching new audiences to raise awareness of, and discussions about, social issues;
  • Putting representation of diversity at the forefront;
  • Supporting artistic development with diverse groups through professional and community projects; and
  • Taking work created locally to international audiences via a range of media (including theatre, audio, multimedia & film).

Our Values

We are united in our commitment to create work guided by the following values:

  • Representation
  • Inclusion
  • Community
  • Passion
  • Innovation

Bijli Associates

Learn more about our Associates