Through the keyhole: Dubai Design Week’s Abwab show highlights Saudi Arabia, India, Lebanon

Updated 09 November 2019

Through the keyhole: Dubai Design Week’s Abwab show highlights Saudi Arabia, India, Lebanon

  • Abwab, which translates to “door” in Arabic, is returning for the fifth edition of Dubai Design Week (DDW) from Nov. 12-1
  • This year, the annually remodeled exhibition invited artists hailing from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and India

DUBAI: Abwab, which translates to “door” in Arabic, is returning for the fifth edition of Dubai Design Week (DDW) from Nov. 12-16. A key exhibition for nurturing design talent from across the region, Abwab offers a platform for emerging as well as established artists and creatives to showcase their work. 


“What we do is try to reflect the creative landscape of what’s happening in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia every year, which is constantly evolving” Rawan Kashkoush, creative director of Dubai Design Week and curator of Abwab, told Arab News. 


Since its inception in 2014, the installation has displayed works from more than 170 designers.




A rendering of Saudi Arabia's installation at Dubai Design Week. (Photo: Supplied)


This year, the annually remodeled exhibition invited artists hailing from countries that DDW felt “had a really strong presence in the creative landscape,” Kashkoush noted. Designers from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and India were tasked with interpreting the theme of “ways of learning” in their own creative and unique way. 


Instead of recruiting an UAE-based interior or architecture studio to build the outer shell of the exhibition, as they do each year, DDW commissioned designers from each of the selected countries to fully conjure up the exterior and interior.




Shahad Alazzaz met up with local craftsmen from the eastern provinces of the Kingdom to preserve the vanishing craft of palm frond weaving. {Photo: Turki Alangari)


Participating artists include Shahad Alazzaz, founder of Azaz Architects, a Riyadh-based design firm, Lebanese-Polish sisters Tessa and Tara Sakhi of multidisciplinary design studio T SAKHI and Mumbai-based Busride Design Studio, a Goa-based architecture firm helmed by brothers Ayaz and Zameer Basrai.


For Saudi Arabia’s pavilion, which is supported by Ithra, Alazzaz met up with local craftsmen from the eastern provinces of the Kingdom to preserve the vanishing craft of palm frond weaving. The result is a larger-than-life, 13-meter-long suspended surface, which is made up of various textiles of different colors, textures and sizes that were painstakingly handmade by local artisans before being intricately woven together. “The idea is to take a very traditional fabric and transform it into a building material,” explained Kashkoush. 




Shahad Alazzaz and a local artisan. (Photo: Turki Alangari)

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s installation is entitled “WAL(L)TZ.” Since the Arab country is congested with physical barriers such as barbed wire and fenced spaces, the installation takes the form of an interactive wall crafted out of recycled foam — a nod to the resilience of the Lebanese people — that invites visitors to interact and connect with each other via cracks and holes. “The concept is metaphorically breaking down barriers,” said the curator. 




Lebanon's installation takes the form of an interactive wall crafted out of recycled foam. (Photo: Supplied)


Lastly, “Qissa Ghar,” India’s pavilion, is the brainchild of the interior firm responsible for some of India’s most trendy restaurants. Since the country’s main way of transferring information and preserving their sense of identity is through story-telling and myths, the designers commissioned seven artists to translate these myths into illustrations, which were then embroidered directly onto handmade qadi fabric that was stitched into lanterns creating an illuminated web of stories.




India's pavilion is entitled “Qissa Ghar,” which means "house of stories". (Photo: AFP)

 


Amr Diab is the first Arab artist to get his very own Times Square billboard

Arabic music star Amr Diab features on Times Square billboard. (Photo: AFP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Amr Diab is the first Arab artist to get his very own Times Square billboard

  • Amr Diab is the first Arab artist to appear on a Spotify billboard in Times Square
  • The move is a bid to promote the music and culture of the Middle East and North Africa

DUBAI: Amr Diab is the first Arab musical artist to get his face plastered on a Spotify billboard in New York City’s iconic Times Square. 

The streaming giant projected a smiling portrait of the Egyptian crooner in one of the most-visited landmarks in the Big Apple in a bid to promote the music and culture of the Middle East and North Africa.

The Egyptian singer has become the first Arab music artist to be featured on a billboard in Times Square. Supplied

“Today we are celebrating Diab’s legacy and we are proud to see him shine so brightly - literally - on the global stage,” says Claudius Boller, Managing Director, Spotify Middle East and Africa in an official press statement. 

According to Spotify, the legendary singer’s music is most streamed in the United States, followed by Sweden, Germany, the UK and Canada.

His album “Nour el-Ain” (Our Eyes Beam) brought him global success and earned him the title of “The Father of Mediterranean Music” for his style of blending Egyptian and western rhythms. 

Diab received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Big Apple Music Awards in 2009. At the 2014 World Music Awards, Diab was also awarded Best Egyptian Artist, Best Male Arab Artist, and World’s Best Arab Male Artist Voted Online.

He was also one of the first artists to headline a concert in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Saudia E-Prix in 2018. He was part of a superstar lineup that included the likes of Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo, the Black Eyed Peas, One Republic and David Guetta. 

The 58-year-old singer is set to take the stage of the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre in Jan. 20, 2020.