Highlights from Art Dubai’s 2023 edition

Highlights from Art Dubai’s 2023 edition
Abdullah Al Othman, The Language of the City, 2019, Hafez Gallery. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 March 2023

Highlights from Art Dubai’s 2023 edition

Highlights from Art Dubai’s 2023 edition

DUBAI: Here is a selection of great works by Arab artists at this year’s fair, which launched its 16th edition on Wednesday featuring over 130 galleries from over 40 countries.

Abdullah Al-Othman  

‘The Language of the City’ 

The Saudi artist presents a large neon installation from 2019. Made of lightboxes and wooden signage, the work layers numerous street signs from his native Riyadh — some collected, some recreated — including signs for a hotel, a barbershop, a restaurant, and coffee shops. The signs, some of which are amusing, also tap into the city’s mix of different ethnicities. “I do believe that a city absorbs its identity from the language of its residents,” Al-Othman explained in an Instagram post. “… a site becomes an identity, a narrative, and a biographical backdrop for each inhabitant.” 

Afifa Aleiby 


The Iraqi artist serene 2021 painting shows a woman partially veiled in a dark lacy fabric set against a background of vivid grass and a cloudy sky. Looking away from the viewer, her eyes are peacefully closed, lost in her own thoughts. The play of light and shadow is especially notable. Portraying femininity is at the heart of Aleiby’s practice. “There is a tenderness in the way a woman moves, sits, talks and uses her hands,” she previously told Arab News. “These are all important factors for me and they enrich my painting.”  

Maha Malluh  

‘Food For Thought’ 

The Saudi artist is renowned for using found objects, such as colorful cassette tapes, large cooking pans, and polyester gloves, to create her mixed-media artworks and installations that tap into consumerism and her country’s changing social and visual culture. In this 2018 piece from her “Food for Thought” series, Malluh constructs a tower of 42 old enameled dishes and bowls typically used for serving food in Saudi households.  

“When an object no longer serves its original purpose,” Malluh wrote in a statement, “it can get a new lease on life, through adaptive reuse by serving an entirely new purpose, thus preserving the heritage of its significance.”  

Ibrahim El-Dessouki (Hafez Gallery) 

‘Doors and False Doors 4’ 

The Cairo-born artist has followed in the footsteps of his parents, who were both painters. He typically depicts aspects of Egyptian life and culture. Against plain backgrounds, graceful, full-figured women — including Egyptian superstar Umm Kulthum — take centre stage in his vertical canvases, as in this recent work. “Some of those paintings express his nostalgia for the women who strolled in his neighborhood when he was a child,” reads a text published by his gallery, Hafez.  

Helen Khal  


Not only was the late Helen Khal – born in Pennsylvania to Lebanese parents – a pioneering writer, art critic, teacher and gallerist, but she made numerous abstract color-field paintings from the 1960s onwards, reflecting the light and colors of the Mediterranean. This 1974 masterpiece, infused with warm orange and pink hues, is rare because of its large scale and its subject matter – a tribute to the famed abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. “She said that she had always been influenced by the work of Mark Rothko” a gallery representative told Arab News. “It’s not copying at all. . . If you’ve seen a Rothko work, you can see that it’s masculine and tough. Hers is more feminine.” 

Mona Saudi  

‘Mother Earth’ 

This is one of several limestone artworks on display at Art Dubai Modern that the Jordanian sculptor, who died last year, created in the Eighties and Nineties. It’s delicate piece that resembles a tender embrace. “I’ve read poetry ever since I was little and most of my works are an embodiment of poetry,” she told Arab News in 2019. According to a description released by her gallery, Saudi focused on themes of growth and fertility. “Always starting with basic shapes, she goes on to give them movement, a life of their own — either repeating their forms, varying their depths or heights, or cutting them across one another to create new, graceful compositions,” it says.  

Miryam Haddad  

‘L’Ode Sans Fins’ 

Haddad was born in Damascus and is based in Paris. This three-paneled work is dominated by intense abstraction and impassioned sweeping swirls of paint. Haddad tells Arab News that the piece was inspired by the Syrian city of Bosra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its ancient Roman theater. 

“This kind of theater is a real source of inspiration for me as it reflects human life. It reminds me of all the events that must have occurred in that place, where I imagine people talked about their great love stories, friendship, their lives during war and their hope for peace,” she says. “People were killed there, but others found their life in this arena.” 



The prominent Syrian artist, who died in Berlin six years ago, is one of several modern masters on view this year. Though he was born in Damascus, Marwan ended up building his career in Germany in the late 1950s. He is best known for his raw self-portraits, such as this one from 1974— the face lines of which have been compared to visceral landscapes. This piece was formerly owned by a German couple; the wife was one of the Marwan’s first sponsors.  

Fatiha Zemmouri  


The Moroccan artist describes her practice as “materialistic,” but it’s not what you’re thinking. She uses raw materials, such as tanned soil, charred wood and ceramics, to create her swirling sculptural compositions. “Roundness” addresses Zemmouri’s interest in nature and its fragility, as well as themes of construction, deconstruction, and evolution. What interests her most is “this in-between: to analyze the complex mechanism of transformation and to highlight the notion of time that elapses between the starting object and the transformed object,” according to her artist statement.   

Sharjah Museums Authority to exhibit replicas of artifacts that blind visitors can touch

Sharjah Museums Authority to exhibit replicas of artifacts that blind visitors can touch
Updated 22 March 2023

Sharjah Museums Authority to exhibit replicas of artifacts that blind visitors can touch

Sharjah Museums Authority to exhibit replicas of artifacts that blind visitors can touch
  • The specialist ‘tactile tours’ will be led by guides with extensive experience of working with visually impaired people
  • The initiative is part of the authority’s efforts to offer more inclusive museum experiences for people with disabilities

DUBAI: The Sharjah Museums Authority is putting on display replicas of some artifacts from its collections so that visitors with visual impairments can touch them.

The specialist ‘tactile tours’ will begin next month, the Emirates News Agency reported. In addition to being able to get their hands on the models of objects as part of the interactive museum experience, visually impaired visitors will also be offered brochures in braille containing additional information about the exhibits.

One of treasures a replica of which has been made is a copy of the Qur’an attributed to Uthman ibn Affan from the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization’s Abu Bakr Gallery of Islamic Faith. It is written in Kufic script on parchment made from animal skins.

Other replicas at the same gallery include a 6-meter-long Kaaba curtain decorated with Qur’anic verses and Islamic patterns, and a Qur’an that is one of the most prominent works by calligraphist Ahmed Karahisari.

At Sharjah Archaeology Museum, the replicas include a 7,000-year-old necklace discovered in Al-Buhais 18 cemetery, and a rectangular, soft-stone box dating back to between 2500 and 2000 B.C.

The tactile tours will be led by guides with extensive experience of working with visually impaired people. More replicas are due to be added next year.

Manal Ataya, the authority’s director-general, said the initiative is in line with the organization’s efforts to support people with disabilities and inclusion.

“At SMA we aim to provide an accessible and more inclusive museum experience for people with all disabilities by offering them equal access to our museums, displays and programs,” Ataya said.

The authority has launched a number of initiatives for people with disabilities in recent years, including an “Autism-Friendly Museums” project in 2018 that was the first of its kind in the Gulf region, according to the Emirates News Agency.

What We Are Watching Today: ‘New Saudi Voices’ on Netflix

What We Are Watching Today: ‘New Saudi Voices’ on Netflix
Updated 22 March 2023

What We Are Watching Today: ‘New Saudi Voices’ on Netflix

What We Are Watching Today: ‘New Saudi Voices’ on Netflix
  • The flicks were first showcased by emerging Saudi filmmakers at the Red Sea Film Festival in 2021

RIYADH: “New Saudi Voices,” a collection of 11 short films, was released by Netflix in 2022. Each story has its own flare and characters on unique journeys.

The flicks were first showcased by emerging Saudi filmmakers at the Red Sea Film Festival in 2021 under the New Saudi/New Cinema Shorts program.

All short movies stayed true to their genre including horror, science fiction, and comedy. The videography shots in the non-animated episodes reflected the mood of the story through light or dark hues.

However, some films fell short and had gaps in the storytelling process, leaving the viewer feeling underwhelmed or surprised by the turn of events. Many others delivered thought-provoking messages.

Khalid Fahad’s “Little Bird” had won the American Film Award and the Best Short Film Award at the Saudi Film Festival.

In the story, a boy named Malik has a difficult life and the film captures his loneliness, sadness, and frustration, with a tragic revelation at the end.

While the idea behind the movie is explained through a statement at the end, the initial viewing alone does not capture it fully and is somewhat shrouded in ambiguity. What makes the project bold is its foray into a topic that is seldom covered by films in the region.

“The Day I Lost Myself” by director Rami Alzayer highlights the daily struggles of people suffering from anxiety disorder. In the film, Salem is on his way to a job interview and gets stuck in an elevator with a stranger where they dive into a conversation about his condition.

The film contributes to an important conversation about mental health and brings awareness and understanding on the topic through the character’s personal journey.

Overall, “New Saudi Voices” is an ambitious and effective project that brings an array of diverse storytellers together to depict various facets of Saudi life.

UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza honored at London’s Arab Woman Award

UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza honored at London’s Arab Woman Award
Updated 22 March 2023

UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza honored at London’s Arab Woman Award

UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza honored at London’s Arab Woman Award
  • She was recognized for her philanthropy and her contributions to female empowerment
  • ‘I am proud to represent my country, where women have not had to struggle to obtain their rights’

LONDON: The UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza was honored on Tuesday with the Arab Woman Award at a ceremony in London in recognition of her contributions to female empowerment in the region and her philanthropic efforts in various countries, Vogue Arabia reported.

Sheikha Fatima has been a strong supporter of cultural initiatives, particularly those involving the arts and sports. 

She has endorsed several programs aimed at boosting the cultural scene in the UAE and the region through her role as chairwoman of the board of directors of the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy and the Fatima bint Hazza Cultural Foundation. 

Her other accomplishments include increasing access to education in Bangladesh, building schools in Kenya, and forming the Fatima bint Hazza Fund for Emirati women to pursue higher education abroad, Vogue Arabia reported.

She is “committed to enhancing the role of women in various ways, as she is a supporter of sports and arts, and we are honored to bestow her with the Achievement Award in Cultural Development,” the Arab London Foundation said.

The philanthropist has also helped broaden young people’s interest in fields such as art, literature, sustainability and community interaction, Vogue Arabia reported. 

The Fatima bint Hazza Cultural Foundation recently launched a series of short stories for young people focusing on culture, local identity and sustainability

Upon accepting her award, Sheikha Fatima praised Emirati leaders and their efforts to encourage women to pursue their dreams.

“Effective participation and making progress and positive change are the core values that we have been raised on,” she said. 

“I am proud to represent my country, the UAE, where women have not had to struggle to obtain their rights but have always been at the forefront since the establishment of the state.”

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 
Updated 22 March 2023

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

Nora Attal models for Gigi Hadid’s Guest in Residence 

DUBAI: British Moroccan model Nora Attal showed her support for her friend Dutch Palestinian catwalk star Gigi Hadid by modeling for her fashion label Guest in Residence. 

Hadid shared a picture on her brand’s Instagram page of Attal wearing one of her cashmere pieces from the label’s Core collection.

She then reshared the picture to her private account, tagging Attal and adding a white heart.

Instagram/ @guestinresidence 

The pair have appeared on many runways together, including the Versace show in Los Angeles earlier in March. 

Hadid wore two outfits. The first was a floor-length gown with a semi-sheer corset bodice and a voluminous satin bottom, while her second look featured a structured black blazer, a knee-high skirt with black leather gloves, shoes and a bag. 

Attal wore a sheer turtle-neck top with a puffy miniskirt and black stockings. 


A post shared by Nora Attal (@noraattal)

Hadid launched her clothing label, which features soft, colorful knitwear, in September. 

“Over the last handful of years, I didn’t want to be backed into starting my own line just because there was an offer on the table or a deal to be made,” she wrote to her followers on Instagram at the time.

As a result, the 27-year-old rejected many opportunities until she found a path that “felt genuine.”

“The earliest days of Guest in Residence came about when I started to question the cashmere market, and those answers gave me a path,” she wrote.

“I believe that because of its sustainable qualities — natural and made to cherish and to pass down — cashmere is a luxury that should be more accessible.”

The model hopes her brand will encourage investment in quality pieces at reasonable prices, “and a wardrobe that can grow and change with your style, that can endure life with you, and that can become heirlooms.”

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast
Updated 22 March 2023

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

Ramadan 2023: how to manage a child’s first fast

DUBAI: As the sun rises on Thursday, the holy month of Ramadan will begin, ushering in a period of quiet contemplation, fasting during the day, feasting with family and friends in the evening, and getting in touch with our spiritual side.

This is also a time when youngsters look to their community and want to join in the festivities. Parents then have a tough call to make: Are their children ready for fasting? And, if the answer is yes, how can they ensure it is a relaxed, happy experience?

The first thing to remember is not to start too early — those younger than 7 may face negative consequences, health experts warn.

Dr. Samer Saade, specialist paediatrician at UAE-based Medcare Medical Center, said: “Children can start fasting when they reach puberty, so that’s between 10 and 14 years in girls and 12 to 16 years in boys. All in all, the best age to start fasting is between 10 and 12 years old.”

The second thing to keep in mind is the effect that lack of food can have on mood and cognitive function, especially since children need more fluids and energy to meet their body’s metabolic demands and for brain development.  

“While fasting, a child’s demeanor may range from weakness, fatigue, decreased cognitive function, altered sleep schedule, reduced attention span and short temper to headache, abdominal pain and fainting spells,” Dr. Nasreen Chidhara Pari, specialist pediatrician at UAE-based Life Medical Center.

Slow and steady


The key to a successful fast is being gradual, with short periods of abstinence, experts say.

“Parents should decide how long their child will fast (if they fast), based on their child’s health, eating frequency, ability to tolerate hunger and activity level,” Pari said.

She suggests children attending school carry an emergency food pack with a snack and water to break their fast if they become dizzy or find themselves unable to continue.

Should a child break their fast, it is important for adults nearby to stay calm and offer reassurance.

Practice positive reinforcement when a child breaks their fast; tell them it is OK and encourage the child to try again when they feel ready. “Extend the duration of fast time in small increments,” she said.

Gentle parenting


Saade echoes this sentiment, calling for positive thinking, gentle parenting and remaining calm during the process. This will ensure a more effective path to fasting, and also raise a child’s self-esteem.

During this period, what we eat becomes doubly important. Sakina Muntasir, a dietitian with UAE-based Prime Hospital, said that suhoor for children should be similar to suhoor for adults in order to prevent thirst, hunger pangs and make the fasting period comfortable.

“Oats, eggs, wholegrain bread and fruit are all good choices,” she said.

When it comes to iftar for children, begin with fresh juice or water-rich fruits or dates.

“Avoid fried or oily foods when breaking the fast. Divide the evening meal into three parts, iftar, dinner and post dinner, to ensure the child has good opportunities to take in enough nutrition,” she said.

Dinner should be a balanced meal with healthy carbs, protein and vegetables. After dinner, have them eat a few nuts and a glass of milk before bed.

Golden triangle


Children can be notoriously picky eaters, so remember the golden triangle: protein, fiber and healthy fat for a healthy meal.

Following these guidelines will ensure a healthy first fast. However, if suhoor is skipped or child  is not eating well, give them a multivitamin to avoid any weakness or deficiencies, Saade said.

Dr. Shahid Gauhar, specialist paediatrician and neonatologist with UAE-based Prime Hospital, said: “Do not force children to overeat during suhoor or iftar. It is likely to result in indigestion, bloating and discomfort.”

Keep the sweets at bay. “Avoid high-sugar food since it will increase their cravings, and provide few nutrients but many unneeded calories,” he said.

Experts agree that knowledge is key to a successful fast. Explain the significance of Ramadan and observing a fast, so it is not just about mimicking grown-ups. Reward milestones, whether it is five hours or a whole day of fasting.

“Celebrate their first fast with family and friends, and reward them, said Gauhar.  

Activity during Ramadan


Play is important for all children, even those fasting, in order for the brain to develop.

However, during the holy month, exercise and activity must be approached differently.

“Prepare activities to keep them busy during the day, but avoid those that need a high level of energy,” Gauhar said.