Floating in the shoreless sea, this pair of lovers are pulled apart by the turbulent waters as they attempt to cling onto each other. This piece – Lovers and a Cactus – comes from a series that Barakat painted to depict the struggles of refugees fleeing their homeland across the sea. In this particular work, the female is holding a cactus, which almost resembles a small child, thus revealing its strong significance. The cactus is a popular symbol of Palestinian identity; it is a national icon. The cactus (‘sabra’ in Arabic) is known for its tenacity and deep-roots that are resilient even in the face of harsh conditions. A metaphoric translation of the Palestinian struggle, the plant in this painting plays a central role.