Not all art is in the galleries; it's there in local hotels and restaurants

The hospitality industry seems to have realised that investing in local arts can work as USP and provide fuel for the visitor's Instagram feed


Purva Grover

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Published: Wed 27 Apr 2022, 7:59 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Apr 2022, 11:56 AM

Walking into a hotel and a restaurant is no longer about staring at the walls adorned with abstract pieces of art bought in bulk from manufacturers, rather it is about admiring the pieces created by the local artists in the country and curated by a specialist; furthering the country's commitment to providing larger platforms to the artists and a peek into the UAE’s culture for the guests. The hospitality industry seems to have realised that investing in local arts can work as USP, contribute to a creative exchange with the community, and of course, provide fuel for the visitor's Instagram feed.

Hotels and restaurants think ‘outside the box'

The social-media-savvy guests have a trained eye for ‘good’ visuals and expect every corner of a venue to be Instagram worthy and a topic for conversation. With that in mind, the industry is responding well to the demands. "Across our nine properties, we have worked with a number of local and regional artists, from varied backgrounds and styles including digital, graffiti, photography, sculptures, etc.," said Paul Bridger, Chief Operating Officer, Rove Hotels. Address Beach Resort, Jumeirah Beach Residences, is best known for Dubai-based Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej's sculptures that reflect UAE's culture and heritage. Said Mattar, "As an artist, I focus on creating designs, and my goal is to add beautiful icons to the already beautiful scenery of the country. The progressive movement in Dubai is increasing in all aspects, especially in the urbanisation and the hospitality sector. The awareness of the organisations when it comes to the importance of art is adding value to improve the services all together, helping create a great environment for the visitors to educate them about arts and to appreciate it as well."

Paul Bridger, Chief Operating Officer, Rove Hotels
Paul Bridger, Chief Operating Officer, Rove Hotels

Say hello to the local artists

Over the years, a few of the artists that Rove Hotels has worked with include Emirati artist Alia Al Shamsi, Emirati illustrators Mariam Abbas and Kahlid Mezaina, Dubai-based artist Stephen Chambers, digital creative Dina Sami and more. Locally based artists Marta Lamovsek and Julian Castaldi, internationally based Dasha Pears and Nayla Kai Saroufim are the first creators as part of the Hyde Hotel Dubai’s art program, with each having created bespoke pieces which reflect the brand’s personality with their unique twist. “We’re a brand-new hotel (open for 5 months now), we work closely with the artists on the exposure they can experience at Hyde. We are excited about what the future holds. Although we have not changed the art, so far, we would like to work with other local artists and give them a platform to shine. The art at the hotel is for sale and we welcome collaboration with other artists. Over the next few years, we aim to have many more local artists showcase their skillset and display their creative artwork throughout Hyde,” said Luke James, General Manager, Hyde Hotel Dubai.

Art by Dasha Pears, Hyde Hotel
Art by Dasha Pears, Hyde Hotel

What do the artists have to say?

Dubai-based Indian artist and curator Atul Panase, who was one of the first among the artists' fraternity to 'paint' in a restaurant Manvaar, Al Karama, Dubai recalls how when back in 2014 he visited the venue he felt something was 'missing', "I suggested a touch of art to the owner, as the subject was close to my heart because Rajasthan (India) is about its colourful culture." Atul worked on a graffiti wall (12x8 ft), a long-illustrated border (approx. 30 meters) that runs on all the walls and five watercolour paintings, all of it which now adorn the restaurant that serves the equally colourful Rajasthani cuisine.

One for the ‘Gram

Paul added how every wall, locker room, elevator panel and corridor at Rove is an opportunity to create an Instagrammable moment. Atul adds how when guests, especially of Indian origin, visit the restaurant, they get nostalgic about the ambience and don't miss a chance to take a selfie in front of the paintings.

A peek into the culture of the country

Rove lobbies set the scene with a large artwork display that connects the property to the neighbourhood that surrounds it. At Rove City Centre, Deira, the featured piece is made with fishing nets about Dubai Creek, whilst in Rove Trade Centre, the display is made with paint cans, paying homage to the many paint shops that used to be located alongside the 2nd December Street where the hotel is. “Our interior design and artwork curation were done meticulously to tell the story of the neighbourhood, where our hotels are located and immersing visitors into Dubai’s rich history and culture,” said Paul. Atul recommends fellow artists to get the new experience of using their talents whilst working with newer ideas, “So that you can get a permanent place to showcase your art and ideas.”

At SLS Dubai Hotel, the hotel is hosting an art exhibition displaying works of art by their Culinary Director, Chef Cláudio Cardoso, who partnered with his wife, actress and architect, Sarah Barlondo to re-imagine the iconic SLS duck, with an all-new design.

Queen of broken arts
Queen of broken arts

Rove is designed to be accessible to everyone and so is the art we exhibit. It is that quality that allows for all types of Rovers to enjoy our interior design and interact with the artworks on display. We do our best to select artists that match the vision and style of what we are trying to communicate.

Paul Bridger, Chief Operating Officer, Rove Hotels

We pride ourselves on providing a platform to give local artists a platform to showcase their pieces. Each of the four talented artists, who are all unique in their way, but when blended create a vibrant exhibit of bold and brilliant designs.

Luke James, General Manager, Hyde Hotel Dubai

Art can boost your creative energy, add to the 'dine and art' experience and a place becomes more meaningful for the visitors, with the artistic touches, whilst keeping the corporate identity intact. With the growing art scene here in the region, many new properties are opting to focus on art.

Atul Panase, Dubai-based Indian artist and curator

The art scene in Dubai is thriving and attracting a lot of interest from art connoisseurs and artists. An art exhibit at the hotel not only adds to the art scene of the city, but also enhances the guest experience, making art that bit more accessible.

Spencer Wadama, General Manager, SLS Dubai

My fellow artists can draw inspiration from my artworks that are permanently installed in hotels, etc. The hotels' visitors evaluate both the artworks and the quality of services offered. When any organisation commission me to create a sculpture, for me it is a sign of their awareness of the importance of the arts and how its addition contributes to the location.

Mattar Bin Lahej, Dubai-based Emirati artist

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