The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

UAE NOW curator Munira Al-Sayegh. (Art Dubai)
Updated 24 March 2019
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The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

  • Several art platforms participated in the new segment
  • One of the artists said her piece is actually a collaboration with the public

ABU DHABI: This year, Art Dubai introduced a new segment into its program — the UAE NOW exhibit that showcased the country’s local independent, artist-run platforms.

The region’s largest art fair ran from March 20-23 and Arab News caught up with UAE NOW curator Munira Al-Sayegh to find out more about the push to showcase homegrown creativity.

“The UAE NOW section of Art Dubai is extremely important to me. It is a moment where we are looking at the cross-collaboration of grassroots platforms that have taken place out of the sheer idea of collaboration between creatives and it is extremely important to showcase this as a counter-narrative to the usual stereotypical idea that the UAE’s art scene is a very commercial art scene or one that is imported,” the curator said.

The participating platforms included Bait 15, Banat Collective, Jaffat el Aqlam, PAC (Public Art Collective) and Daftar Asfar. The platforms were invited to showcase their works and many ended up creating small, informal spaces that showed off the artists’ pieces in a cozy atmosphere. Bait 15’s booth featured a large mattress in the middle, where visitors could rest their weary feet, and the Banat Collective boasted draped chiffon on which passers-by could draw and doodle with chalk pastels.  

The piece by Saudi Arabia-based Palestinian artist Jana Ghalayini was a “collaboration with the public,” she told Arab News, adding that she was hoping to explore themes of identity and empowerment through the interactive installation.

For her part, co-founder of the Abu Dhabi-based Bait 15 studio Afra Al-Dhaheri was equally interested in opening up a dialogue.

“This is the first time that Art Dubai allows for community spaces to be present… I think this dialogue has to emerge one way or another, like, having the artist community speak,” she told Arab News.  

“Art is important for any society. It’s a register for the history of the society, the community and the times,” she added.


What We Are Reading Today: Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban

Updated 4 min 51 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban

  • She lectures frequently on the topic of pharmaceutical integrity

Katherine Eban, the author of Bottle of Lies, is an investigative reporter focusing on the pharmaceutical industry for many years.

She lectures frequently on the topic of pharmaceutical integrity.

In a review for The New York Times, critic David Dobbs said Bottle of Lies “is an invaluable exposé, a reportorial tour de force and a well-turned epic.”

A review in goodreads.com said Bottle of Lies “takes us into a world where generic drugs are designed and manufactured.”

“A decade-long investigation with international sweep, high-stakes brinkmanship and big money at its core, Bottle of Lies reveals how the world’s greatest public-health innovation has become one of its most astonishing swindles,” it added.

The review said Bottle of Lies “exposes the deceit behind generic-drug manufacturing— and the attendant risks for global health. Drawing on exclusive accounts from whistleblowers and regulators, as well as thousands of pages of confidential documents, Eban reveals an industry where fraud is rampant.”