Detail-of-the-model--“Chimera”-by-Artist-Monira-Al-Qadiri- Image
Detail of the model “Chimera” by Artist Monira Al-Qadiri

Trying to capture the fine arts movement in UAE in the first months of the year might require a huge effort, which is more like running in a creative marathon and trying to absorb the splendor of the most beautiful winter in the world. Here we present a modest attempt to shed light on some of the exhibitions and art events that were held recently and highlight its main stations.

Art of Expo 2020

To start with, we must pause for a moment, trying to capture the grandeur of this great museum and admit that with every step you take inside this charming museum, you find yourself living in a story narrated by a fine artist or a creative designer who was keen to make an impact in this space of the world. Behind every chair in Expo, there is a story for a designer, and in front of each pavilion, you are on a date with artistic creativity from a different culture and a different emotional mixture as well. At Expo 2020, where ideas, minds, and stories converge to form the features of the latest human achievements in its long journey, millions of years ago.

Visual Arts Program

Welcoming the world in Expo 2020, Dubai-style, came in harmony with its vision of dedicating the role of art to be the interface of its civilized identity. That is why, it was given that the preparations for this huge event would include launching the “Visual Arts Program”, in which local and international artists were assigned to innovate contemporary artworks in public places to match Expo 2020 vision of connecting minds and creating the future, and fit the ambitious plan to design the site.

Tariq Abu Al–Fotouh, the art curator, handled the design of the program, which includes contemporary artworks in public places creative by a group of artists: Asmaa Balahmr, Oliver Alison, Hamra Abbas, Khalil Rabah, Shaikha Al-Mazrou, Abdullah Al-Saadi, Afra Al-Dhaheri, Monira Al-Qadiri, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Hugo Yang, and Yinka Shonibare.

Among the models presented by the artists is “Composition Stereoscopic” by the artist Zainab Al-Hashemi, which is a conceptual model that aims to explore the relationship between geometric shapes and natural forms, located in Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion. The “Sculptures of Pillows” or “Play House” by Emirati artist Afra Al-Dhaheri, which evoke a beautiful memory mimicking these stone pillows and their organization that seem more like an invitation to cross into the past and build childhood homes using these pillows, the model is located next to the Emirates pavilion. However, “Pillar” stereoscopy by the artist Sheikha Al-Mazrouei, is a sculpture of a marble pillar, which is the pillar that is commonly used to support antiques and statues. There is also, “Terra Police Digital Panel” by Saudi artist Ayman Zaidani, where he used a digital algorithm in which he sees a simulation process that reflects life from a parallel perspective that presents the relationship between humans and the digital world. While the artwork “Chimera” by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al-Qadiri, which is considered the first work to be revealed on the site; it is a giant model inspired by the heads of the oil wells used in the current era.

Afra Al -Dhaheri: “The Pillows”. Image
Afra Al -Dhaheri: “The Pillows”.
Detail-of-the-model--“Chimera”-by-Artist-Monira-Al-Qadiri- Image
Detail of the model
“Chimera” by Artist Monira Al-Qadiri

Emirati Artworks Advocating for the Environment

In cooperation with “Art Dubai”, the Sustainability Pavilion “Terra” hosted five artistic works that stimulate the thought of four contemporary artists from the UAE and the Arab World. Among them, the Emirati artist “Mohamed Ibrahim” presented an interactive synthetic work entitled “Hugs” and the work constitutes a contemplative space asking visitors to think of the impact of their own values on their decisions, especially when it comes to decisive issues such as the environment.

As for the work of the Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem, “Directions – Expo 2020”, it appears more like an invitation to think and search for innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. As this work represents the geographical coordinates of Expo visitors from different countries of the world. While the second work of the artist entitled “Measuring” is mocking the assumed accuracy of any spatial relationship, as the work calls on viewers to think about the changing nature of something with the logic of measurement.

“Hugs”-art-work-by-the-artist-Mohammad-Ahmad-Ibrahim Image

David’s Twin in the Italian Pavilion

It is no surprise for the Italian Pavilion to be unique in presenting an artwork that attracts the world’s attention to it in a huge event like Expo, but the minds went undoubtedly to the contemporary Italian artists, this was excluded by the desire to present a surprise, which came to as a carved version of “David” by the Italian artist and poet Michael Anglo that were created by a 3D printer with the use of resin and other artistic materials to produce this very identical version to the original version. In order to convey a glimpse of the rich culture that Italy is famous for, supported by other artworks that the pavilion is displayed, reviewing the experiences and artistic eras that influenced the streets, squares, and atmosphere of Italy even in all forms of art and sculpture

Statue-of-“David”-in-the-Italian-Pavilion Image
29 A side of the exhibition “I am the Syrian” Image
29 A side of the exhibition “I am the Syrian”.

“I am the Syrian”

“A face from Syria” was the subject of the art exhibition, which united 50 artists from Syria with one signature “I am the Syrian”, where each of them gave up his own signature to merge with the spirit of the group, without giving up their style within the colors system that united artworks in one color package on a runway that extends between black and white. With equal dimensions for all the artworks that rotate the opportunity to display on the wall one against the mirror that spanned the extension of the show, carrying the phrase “With The Eyes of My Heart, I See You”. Where the exhibition provided the opportunity to meet the artworks of prominent artists in Syrian fine Art, and discover new names on a high artistic level to meet, in front of the same mirror.

Exhibitions of the Fiftieth Year

Celebrating the fiftieth year was the broad title that crowned many art exhibitions in the Emirates during the past months. It was the broad title of some exhibitions, or it was the occasion that was celebrated by other exhibitions, including the exhibition “50 Years, 50 Artworks” organized by the Khawla Art Foundation at K-Gallery in Dubai Design District, which ran from 03 to 30 December. The exhibition has branched out of the “50 Years, 50 Creative” initiative, through which 50 Emirati artists and creators have collaborated in various artistic and literary fields; to create a creative incubator for this artistic dialogue. This initiative was launched by the Foundation since its establishment, with the cooperation of 36 Emirati fine artists and calligraphers to set up this exhibition; coordination with them was made to display 50 artworks to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Union. The exhibition included artworks characterized by a diversity of artistic styles and patterns. It was also characterized by gathering a group of distinguished Emirati artists from several generations under one roof, who were all keen to attend the opening to celebrate this unique artistic forum, especially on this national occasion.

A shot from the opening of “Venice and Islamic Arts” exhibition Image
A shot from the opening of “Venice and Islamic Arts” exhibition.

Venice and Islamic Arts at the Museum of Islamic Civilization

“Inspiration and Masterpieces: Venice and the Arts of Islam” is a title that carries the story of the exhibition within. It began by excavating the history of the relations between the arts of the Islamic world and Venice by searching deep in the roots to identify these unique artworks. Those artworks are being displayed for the first time at the “Museum of Islamic Civilization” in Sharjah, which was opened on the 16 of February and lasted for five months from the date of its opening.

On the way back, there were the meetings, and there was the starting point. Starting there, we move on to the dialogues that pave the way to inspiration. This was the sequence of the tour in the exhibition, which was held in cooperation between the Sharjah Museums Authority and the Venice Foundation for Civil Museums, displaying 72 antiquities presented for the first time to tell us about the impact of Islamic civilization and Islamic art on Venice, its arts and products. As the exhibition presents its tales through artworks, utensils, textiles, and other tools that were influenced by the Islamic character, or were moved to Venice as precious gifts at that time.


Visual Artist and journalist, Member of Emirates Fine Art Society.She’s specialized in observing and tracking art and cultural movement in UAE, and covering events and art fairs and exhibitions.

“Al Tashkeel” Magazine

he first issue of “Al Tashkeel” Magazine was published back in 1984, four years after the formation of the Emirates Fine Arts Society. The fine arts movement was witnessing growth and gaining traction on all other artistic levels.