100 art pieces, open-air concert: Dubai's historic district transforms with Sikka festival

More than 100 installations have been exhibited across 14 houses, each showing a different art form and creativity


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Sikka Art and Design Festival kicks off in Dubai's Al Shindagha area. Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir
Sikka Art and Design Festival kicks off in Dubai's Al Shindagha area. Photos: SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sun 25 Feb 2024, 8:50 AM

Last updated: Sun 25 Feb 2024, 10:54 PM

The historical district of Al Shindagha in Dubai has transformed into a vibrant hub, emulsifying artists and art enthusiasts from across the region as it hosts the Sikka Art and Design Festival.

With over 500 local, regional, and global creatives and artists, the 12th edition of the festival aims to provide an innovative platform that brings together various art forms, celebrating established and emerging creatives from the UAE and the GCC.

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Emirati artist AlZaina Lootah takes great pride in crafting stunning installations and displaying her art pieces. Her creation for the Sikka stands out as a centrepiece, capturing the attention of every visitor.

AlZaina Lootah's installation
AlZaina Lootah's installation

"It's truly an honour to see my installation placed in front of the majlis of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum," said AlZaina.

The installation, a collaboration with architect Abdalla Almulla, founder of Mula Studio, is a stunning arrangement of hundreds of wooden planks carefully stacked to form a dual circular pattern. AlZaina explained, "It carries a message rooted in the maritime industry, economy, and the rich history of Dubai Creek."

AlZaina Lootah
AlZaina Lootah

Elaborating on the concept, AlZaina said that the vision involves placing a majlis at the heart of the installation, creating an appealing setting that can be admired from all angles. "The colourful paint at one of the faces adds to the appeal of the installation," said AlZaina.

More than 100 installations have been exhibited across 14 houses, each showing a different art form and creativity.

The 'Black Iris Collection' by Majd Habashneh, a Jordanian artist in Dubai, is another must-see art for visitors. Inspired by Jordan's national flower, Habashneh crafted clay-moulded iris petals named 'Mystery' alongside a masculine face titled 'Rebellion,' seamlessly blending femininity and masculinity, as described by Habashneh.

'Black Iris Collection' by Majd Habashneh
'Black Iris Collection' by Majd Habashneh

"It took me five months to create this handcrafted clay installation, and I moulded it into the shape of iris petals and the masculine face. The world of ceramic and clay teaches patience. We need to wait as it needs to dry and be baked in the oven," said Habashneh.

The Jordanian artist was very surprised and delighted with the participation of people and visitors enjoying the festival.

Haven art lovers

Spanish tourists Alejandro and Lola were drawn to the old neighbourhood hosting Sikka after spotting illuminated buildings across the creek. "We were at the spice souq in Deira, across the creek. We saw the place lit up in beautiful colours. We couldn't resist visiting the place," said Alejandro.

"We rode the Abra for Dh1 and crossed the creek to reach here. "It's a haven for artists, and being from the creative industry, I have just fallen in love with the installations here and the creativity of the designers," said Alejandro, a media professional from Barcelona.

Perfect place for family

The festival has come alive, with visitors enjoying the vibrant offerings. Food stalls line the streets, tempting foodies to taste the various flavours. "We wanted to spend our weekend outdoors visiting the old district of Dubai. When we arrived here, we forgot about our dinner and kept looking out for more art," said Jasim Hamad, a Syrian expat residing in JLT.

"For dinner, we decided to sample the variety of flavours offered by many stalls here, and the food was delicious. The setup, art, and food made the start of our weekend just perfect," added Hamad.

An orchestra performance featuring fifty violinists and other musicians adds melodious tunes to the walkway, transforming the area into an open concert. The crowd is drawn to this spectacle as the musicians captivate their minds.

The festival will run until March 3, featuring a rich agenda of exhibitions, artistic creations, workshops, talks, and other activities to provide visitors with exceptional cultural experiences.


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