Dubai Aquarium to add virtual encounters with Tiger and Hammerhead sharks

Dubai Mall attracts more than 80 million visitors per year. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Dubai Aquarium to add virtual encounters with Tiger and Hammerhead sharks

LONDON: Immotion Group has struck a deal to supply virtual reality headsets to the Dubai Aquarium, one of the emirate's most visited attractions.

The London-listed entertainment group said the new additions would feature "Shark Dive,"  - a live action virtual reality experience where users can get up close with Tiger and Hammerhead Sharks.

"Signing up Dubai Aquarium is another major milestone in the company's growth story," said Martin Higginson, Immotion Group CEO. "Not only is this one of the largest aquariums, it is located in the largest shopping mall in the world with over 80 million visitors a year."

Dubai's biggest tourist attractions are competing to attract visitors as the sector comes under pressure from a strong US dollar, to which the UAE dirham is pegged, as well as pressure on hotel room rates. 

The Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world with over 140 species, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks, Immotion said.


Calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat seeks to break the mold after mastering classic styles

Wissam Shawkat pictured at Tashkeel in Dubai. (Arab News)
Updated 29 March 2020

Calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat seeks to break the mold after mastering classic styles

DUBAI: “If you continue practicing calligraphy in its traditional scripts, that’s a limitation by itself,” Iraqi artist Wissam Shawkat told Arab News while explaining the need to master the craft and then innovate to push Arabic calligraphy into the future.

“I mean I am not against learning traditional scripts. I’ve been doing calligraphy for almost 35 years, but I arrived to a point that if you continue like doing only traditional scripts at the end you are just copying what's been done 100 years ago,” Shawkat, who is based in Dubai, explained.

'Lost in Love' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

The artist’s passion for calligraphy started in 1984, when his art teacher decided to, for a day, teach them the skill instead of drawing, he said. “So, he held the chalk on the side and wrote four letters of Ruqa’a style, which is (a) very basic style in calligraphy, but as a kid this has a very big impact on me,” Shawkat said. It was then Shawkat learned to appreciate the beauty of the Arabic letter — “aalligraphy became an obsession,” he said.

'Quad Love' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

After training as a civil engineer, Shawkat decide to switch careers and dived into life as a calligraphy artists. And he achieved fame along the way, having worked with the likes of Tiffany & Co. and Hermes.

'Something' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

“Usually, the traditional way of learning calligraphy comes with the relationship of the master and the student. You have like a master, you study with him, (and) he guides you in certain forms.” But as a child, Shawkat did not have the “luxury” of having an educator. So, according to him, he had to depend on himself to learn the ins and outs of the notoriously laborious and strict art form.

'Loving Heart 3' by Wissam Shawkat. (Supplied)

In 2014, Shawkat broke the mold by creating his own calligraphy style, Al Wissam, which references a number of traditional scripts, including Sunbuli, Jali Diwani, Eastern Kufic and Thuluth.