Dubai: 5 Emirati artists create new artwork installed in public garden

They drew inspiration from the construction of the Areesh, a traditional architecture in the UAE that uses palm leaves woven together

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Published: Mon 26 Feb 2024, 2:23 PM

Last updated: Mon 26 Feb 2024, 11:33 PM

An artwork depicting seven pillars held together by a series of bands has been unveiled at the Al Hudaiba public garden, overlooking the Etihad Museum and Union House. Titled the ‘Union of the Artists’ installation, it was spearheaded by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), in collaboration with Art Dubai.

The artwork was created by five pioneering Emirati artists, who were selected from over 250 entries invited through the open call by Dubai Culture and Art Dubai in January last year.


They drew inspiration from the construction of the Areesh — a traditional architecture in the UAE that uses palm leaves woven together to create houses and furniture among other things. The leaves are more closely woven together during winter to keep the cold out and are given more space in summers to let air in.

According to the artists, the construction of Areesh reflects collective effort, collaboration and cohesion, much like UAE’s society. It also symbolizes the seamless integration of palm branches and ropes, signifying the unity and mutual support woven into the intricate fabric of the society.


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The installation was made as part of the Dubai Public Art initiative through which Dubai Culture aims to enhance visual culture in the city. The goal of the strategy is to transform Dubai’s streets, neighbourhoods and public areas into touristic and cultural destinations, showcasing artwork, sculptures, paintings, murals and art installations.

About the artwork

The ‘Union of the Artists’ installation delves into the relationship between tension and balance and recurring elements in the works of these artists who have ingeniously crafted a visually captivating artistic sculpture, where seven pillars symbolise the united spirit that binds the people of UAE. These pillars represent themes like teamwork, cooperation, equality, solidarity and cohesion.

The five artists who worked on the installation are Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, a pioneering experimental artist; Shaikha Al Mazrou, visual arts professor at New York University Abu Dhabi; Asma Belhamar, assistant professor at the College of Arts and Creative Industries at Zayed University; Khaled Albanna, who employs collage techniques to explore topics related to the history of the UAE and its rapid transformation; and Afra Al Dhaheri, who draws inspiration from her upbringing in Abu Dhabi.

They collaborated to produce a single installation that brings together their creative ideas and artistic visions. They employed various artistic practices while conveying the concept of unity and cooperation among them.

The five of them shared that they wanted to combine their unique experiences and expertise into a single installation, with a shared interest to express their individual visions and viewpoints. “Our ultimate aim was to craft an engaging artistic installation that would spark the community's imagination, inspired by the unity of the seven emirates,” they said in a joint statement.

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