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

Updated 13 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)

 


Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition. (Supplied)
Updated 8 min 56 sec ago

Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

  • Cairo Saturday Walks are a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city
  • The team is now exhibiting its work for charity at a gallery in the city

DUBAI: The Cairo Saturday Walks team, a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city, are now exhibiting their work for charity at a gallery in the city.

The exhibition brought together more than 50 local, international, professional and amateur photographers who are displaying their work in the Maadi district until Nov. 22.

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past, according to the founder of Cairo Saturday Walks Karim El-Hayawan.

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60. (Supplied)

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition.

El-Hayawan described the practice as an “organic experience,” during which photographers discover the city’s hidden gems.

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers.

El-Hayawan’s journey began after he took a basic introductory course in photography. “I did not have time during the week to work on my photography assignments. I used to go out every Saturday to take pictures and I used to post on my account. Then a lot of people started asking me ‘Where are these places? Where do you go? We want to join,’ although (these places) exist 10-15 minutes from anywhere in Cairo, but people did not notice them or had forgotten them,” he told Arab News.

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers. (Supplied)

The group has a library of more than 15,000 pictures accessible on Instagram through #cairosaturdaywalks.

“We ask people who join us to share their pictures on that hashtag, with the intention of having a long-term documentation of Cairo,” El-Hayawan said. “Everyone takes pictures from his/her own perspective. It is extremely neutral; everyone takes pictures of whatever they want.”

In two to three years, people can go back to this documentation and see that Cairo looked this way at this time,” he said.

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past. (Supplied)

A typical Saturday for the photographers starts off at a cafe. “We meet in the morning at a coffee shop and we take a little bus that we rent every Saturday and we just hit the road to somewhere random and we get lost. We call them to pick us up from wherever we reach at the end of the day. The idea is that it has no structure and I really aimed at that from the very beginning,” El-Hayawan said.

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60, but El-Hayawan said that anyone can join the walk and share their pictures.

“I found out about Cairo Saturday Walks from Instagram. The spirit of people I walk with is just amazing. Also, the fact that I am Egyptian yet I still get amazed by Cairo’s streets is what pushes me to explore more every week,” Yara Wael, a 17-year-old photographer, told Arab News.