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First-ever exhibition of contemporary Emirati art held in the United States
May 25, 2014
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WASHINGTON: Meridian International Centre and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have launched Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, a groundbreaking cultural diplomacy programme that brings Emirati artwork and artists to the United States.

The exhibition tells the story of the UAE’s rich history, culture and rapid development through the works of 25 notable Emirati artists. Past Forward represents the first major touring exhibition of Emirati art in the world.

Over 50 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other artwork comprise the exhibition, which will be on public display in Washington, DC till July 13. The exhibition will then go on a national tour through 2015, and will include stops in Texas, California and Washington. In addition to being on public display while touring the US, Emirati artists whose works are featured in Past Forward will conduct educational outreach lectures, and workshops.

The exhibition was formally opened at the White-Meyer House at Meridian International Centre during a gala reception that was attended by senior US government officials, members of the diplomatic community, business leaders and other friends of Meridian and the UAE.

During the event, Meridian International Centre President and CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday stressed the value of cultural diplomacy to increasing dialogue and relationships between communities.

“This is a very exciting venture for Meridian,” said Ambassador Holliday. “Cultural diplomacy is a powerful tool to find common ground, build lasting relationships, and foster respect. Through this exhibition, Americans can experience the UAE’s diverse heritage and build the foundation for greater understanding between our two countries.”

In remarks delivered during the exhibition’s opening, UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba discussed how Past Forward captures the energy and diversity of the country’s emerging art scene.

“Today is a proud day for the UAE as we launch the first major international exhibition of contemporary Emirati artwork,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba.

 “The artwork featured in this exhibition embodies the creativity radiating throughout the UAE, and captures the story of our young — but rapidly developing — nation. Art has nourished our culture, informed our thinking, and allowed the UAE to become the modern, open and tolerant country that it is today.”

Additional support for Past Forward is being provided by the Abu Dhabi Tourism ‘&’ Culture Authority, the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and Etihad Airways. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr Curtis Sandberg, Senior Vice President for Arts and Cultural Programmes at the Meridian International Centre, and Noor Al Suwaidi, a renowned expert on contemporary Emirati art.


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