Highlights from the Dubai art exhibition ‘Made in Tashkeel 2019’

'Made in Tashkeel 2019'. (Supplied)
Updated 30 July 2019

Highlights from the Dubai art exhibition ‘Made in Tashkeel 2019’

Here are some selected works from Arab artists being shown in the Dubai art space’s annual exhibition. 

‘Come Fly With Me’

Badr Abbas

The self-taught Emirati artist uses much of his Cubist-style work to explore his country’s heritage. Of this piece, he writes, “We are inheriting a culture of eating in the UAE that is bypassing our traditional recipes and laying on some serious calories. Even in-flight, the menu options are deliciously varied … Indulgence has become more accessible than ever before.” The “Food for Thought” series, Abbas says, is “a satirical representation of modern culture.”


Ibraheem Khamayseh

Khamayseh, who was born in Riyadh, and whose father is a calligrapher, contributes this piece, which he describes as “an experiment in letterforms.” He built it up from a collection of “daily sketches, experimental studies and graphic elements” and says that it is an attempt to break the rules of lettering by looking at the letters “as shapes and forms, rather than their functionality.”

‘State of Mind: The Struggle To Create’

Ichraq Bouzidi

The Dubai-based Moroccan artist is described by Tashkeel as “an admirer of both surrealism and minimalism” whose work “taps into the duality between real and surreal in a theatrical but minimalist way.” This mixed-media triptych, she says, represents “the struggle to create, the first phase in the process of shaping an artistic work — often inevitable, always consuming.”

‘Abandoned Places’

Jassim Al-Awadhi

One of the UAE’s premier photographers, Al-Awadhi has worked in the crime-scene field for over 20 years, which has had a significant influence on his photography, which, Tashkeel says, combines “documentation and nature, adopting an integrated approach of science and philosophy.” His “Abandoned Places” series, Al-Awadhi says, reveals locations where “silence has become the master, and repeated this scene every day without boredom.”


Joanna Barakat

Barakat, a UAE-based Palestinian artist, uses painting, photography and tatreez (Palestinian embroidery) in her work “to question collective ideas and stereotypes using a reimagined Palestinian aesthetic.  In this work, two identical motifs are joined. The four squares in each motif “resemble the four chambers of the heart,” while their connection “removes the illusion of separateness.”


Khaled Al-Shaer

The young Emirati artist’s “Sheep” is a humorous look at “connotations that the Emirati community has used in identifying certain characteristics of individuals in the dating scene,” he says. Specifically, it’s a portrayal of men who continue to pursue women whom it’s clear have no interest in them. “He continuously follows her around as though called upon by a shepherd,” Al-Shaer says.

‘Temporary Memory’

Ruba Al-Araji

Al-Araji was born and raised in Baghdad, and is a trained architect whose artwork varies from realistic portraits to comic-book art. This piece, she says, depicts a “living station” with “cells that form to control the objects that we see around us,” as well as the effect that words play on our behavior, “changing the way we feel on a day-to-day basis.”

Two engineers help fight Lebanese farming foe

Updated 19 August 2019

Two engineers help fight Lebanese farming foe

  • Early-warning system lets farmers know when to protect their crops from fruit flies
  • Mobile app tells them the best time to spray pesticides to halt their advance

DUBAI: An award-winning startup led by two female Lebanese engineers has created an automated early-warning system that allows Middle East farmers to protect their crops against the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive pests.

Fruit flies can devastate entire harvests and have infested over 300 types of vegetables, fruits and nuts globally, causing financial ruin to countless farmers in the Arab world.

However, an ingenious system designed by Nisrine El Turky, a computer engineer and university professor, and Christina Chaccour, an electrical engineer, will tell farmers via text messages and mobile app of the best time to spray pesticides to halt the pests’ advance.

“Many Lebanese farmers weren’t able to export apples because the quality of their produce wasn’t good enough,” said El Turky, co-founder of IO Tree.

“So many I met were desperate to sell a crate of apples for $2 (SR7.50), which is nothing. I wanted to help the sector by better integrating technology.”

Farmers were found spraying too much pesticide to try to kill fruit flies. (Shutterstock)

She began by investigating the difficulties that farmers faced, attending workshops and seminars, and visiting farms. She found the main problem was that farmers were spraying too much pesticide to try to kill fruit flies.

“I found a way that could reduce the use of pesticides and increase production.”

El Turky began working on the IO Tree concept in February 2018 and swiftly built a working prototype, which she showed to Chaccour, who promptly joined the company as a co-founder.

IO Tree’s technology is being tested on farms in Lebanon and the Netherlands. There are two prototype machines — one for indoor use and another for outdoor. The machines can be placed in an orchard, field or greenhouse.

“We need to ensure that the prototype functions in all conditions. Outdoors, there is sun, dust, rain and other weather factors that could disrupt its operation,” said El Turky, who still works up to 10 hours a week as a lecturer at Lebanon’s Notre Dame University.

Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the machine’s sensors monitor indicators such as temperature and moisture, as well as studying plant stress.

The system can detect and identify pests, providing data on the likely scale of an imminent pest invasion and the best action the farmer should take to combat it. Information is conveyed to the farmer via IO Tree’s app.

“If you’re using pesticides, our app will tell you the best pesticide to use to tackle that problem, the quantity you need and when to spray.”

IO Tree’s sensors use machine learning to measure plant stress. (Supplied photo)

EL Turky said her technology had shown over 90 percent accuracy in identifying medflies.

“Machine learning means that every day the system becomes more accurate,” she said.

“We’re also working on identifying other pests, but medfly is our main target. Once medflies arrive at a farm, they will eat everything.”

IO Tree will enable farmers to use fewer pesticides, reducing environmental damage, while produce will be in better condition and can command a higher sales price.

“By using fewer pesticides, farmers will be better able to preserve biodiversity: Spraying kills a lot more insects than just pests,” she said. IO Tree has initially targeted all types of fruit trees, plus tomatoes and cucumbers, and the product will be launched commercially in September.

“We’re aiming at farmers directly,” said El Turky.

IO Tree’s services will be sold via subscription. After a farmer signs up for one year initially, the company will install its machines at the farm. The number of machines required per acre depends on crop type, crop yield, land topography and other factors.

The company’s initial target market is the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, though it also plans to expand to Europe and eventually worldwide.

The product’s potential has helped IO Tree win a string of startup competitions. It was selected to represent Lebanon GSVC 2019 (Global Social Venture Competition) at the University of California, Berkeley.

IO Tree also joined Lebanon’s Agrytech accelerator, which provided $44,000 in funding, and schooled the fledgling entrepreneurs in how to create and manage a startup.


• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.