Dubai: Meet 7 top Emirati artists who add sparkle to 10 nights of light art festival

Each artist will be presenting their own unique stories embodying the spirit of Dubai through a fusion of tradition and contemporary artistry

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Ashwani Kumar

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Photo: Dubai Media Office
Photo: Dubai Media Office

Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 3:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 10:32 PM

Seven renowned Emirati artists will be featuring their remarkable installations during the 10-day inaugural Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival at the iconic Al Wasl Plaza in Expo City Dubai.

Each artist will be presenting their own unique stories embodying the spirit of Dubai through a fusion of tradition and contemporary artistry.

Expo City Dubai, in partnership with AGB Creative and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, revealed the lineup of artists for the inaugural edition of the event, which will illuminate Dubai for 10 nights from January 26 to February 4. Curators Amna Abulhoul, Expo City Dubai Executive Creative Director, and Anthony Bastic AM, founder of AGB Creative, have picked this amazing selection of artists.

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Mattar Bin Lahej

Mattar Bin Lahej
Mattar Bin Lahej

A versatile artist is known for designing the calligraphic facade of the Museum of the Future. He specialises in painting, photography, sculpture and design. His art is distinguished by the creative use of Arabic calligraphy and a bold approach to form and movement, often inspired by the majesty of horses in motion – a testament to their historic importance in Emirati culture.

Referred to as the ‘Man of Steel,’ Bin Lahej’s works embody a distinctive narrative, blending emotion and storytelling, which vividly represent the cultural essence of the UAE.

Dr Najat Makki

Dr Najat Makki
Dr Najat Makki

She is a pioneering artist renowned for her abstract and colourful depictions of the UAE’s natural landscapes and her female figures. Her work, characterised by the use of fluorescent paints and UV-A lighting, creates immersive, dreamlike experiences, drawing inspiration from the country’s inspiring women, and Dubai’s historic lifeline of the Creek.

Makki’s art, deeply rooted in her curiosity for colour and form, reflects a unique perspective on the region’s beauty, bridging the gap between traditional aesthetics and contemporary art. She has been awarded the ‘Chevalier of Arts and Letters’ by the French government.

Dr Mohamed Yousif

Dr Mohamed Yousif
Dr Mohamed Yousif

The Emirates Fine Arts Society co-founder is celebrated for his whimsical and delicate sculptures inspired by his memories of growing up in the UAE, often crafted from palm tree fronds native to the UAE desert.

Mohamed’s multifaceted talent extends to the theatre, where he contributes as a playwright, director, and actor, infusing his artworks with a dynamic interplay of motion and stillness. His significant participation in international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, and numerous awards highlight his influential role in shaping the UAE art scene.

Abdalla Almulla

Abdalla Almulla
Abdalla Almulla

He is celebrated for his geometrically inspired architectural designs, particularly his interpretation of the minaret, which explores the relationships between light and the five prayer times. His work, characterised by the innovative use of patterns and geometry, explores the intersections of tradition and technology, and design theory and visual aesthetics.

Almulla’s creations embody a fusion of creativity and functionality, marking him as a key figure in the contemporary architectural scene of the UAE. Last year, Almulla participated in the London Design Biennale and Dubai Design Week.

Khalid Alshafar

Khalid Alshafar
Khalid Alshafar

He is known for his groundbreaking fusion of Emirati culture and contemporary design elements. With a distinct portfolio spanning furniture and intricate objects, Alshafar’s creations transcend mere aesthetics, embodying a profound personal connection between form and function.

He is renowned for his collaborations with LASVIT and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. His work, characterised by both aesthetic allure and practicality, serves as a dynamic testament to the evolving design landscape of Dubai and the broader Middle East.

Reem Al Ghaith

Reem Al Ghaith
Reem Al Ghaith

She is a creative polymath who has worked in the fields of visual art, cultural research, creative direction and design entrepreneurship. As an artist, Al Ghaith is celebrated for her explorations of urban transformation in the UAE through mixed media. Her portfolio encompasses photography, print and installation art, capturing the dynamic evolution of her native city of Dubai. Her artworks have represented the UAE in several internationally prominent institutions, including the Venice Biennial, Center Pompidou, the Haus Der Kunst, The Mori Art Museum, the Shanghai Expo, and the UN Headquarters.

Maitha Hamdan

Maitha Hamdan
Maitha Hamdan

Maitha Hamdan is a multidisciplinary artist who works with fabric and textiles, as well as performances exploring social boundaries, religion and narratives. Maitha is also a filmmaker and a graduate fellow artist from the Shaikha Salama Bint Hamdan Foundation Programme, Salama Emerging Artists Fellowship Programme Cohort 7, and part of Azyamii Programme by Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council 2019. She was also a resident artist at the Cultural Foundation Art Residency Programme 2021 and is a current member of the 2023 Critical Practice Programme in Tashkeel – Dubai.

‘Wonderful artistic integration’

Co-curator Amna Abulhoul noted the multiple generations of incredibly talented artists will play a pivotal role in placing this first edition of the festival onto both the local and global stages.

“The UAE is home to a vast array of brilliant artists and creatives, which made selecting artists for this first edition not an easy task. The participating artists each come with their own unique stories that beautifully complement one another, and together tell the story of Dubai, which visitors will see come to life at Dhai Dubai.”

Anthony Bastic underlined that light is a significant part of Emirati and Arab culture.

“The art and architecture of this region are renowned for their exquisite use of light and shadow. This innate meaning and profound influence of light give deep resonance to this festival. It is a festival rooted in its place, Dubai, and in the work of its local artists who help shape the Emirate’s unique cultural identity,” Bastic added.

Dhai Dubai will take place at Al Wasl Plaza from January 26 to February 4 (6pm to 11pm). For further information visit www.Dhaidubai.com.

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