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Art: Season’s flavour
by Muhammad Yusuf March 08, 2018
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Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated entity for culture, arts and heritage, has launched the fifth edition of Dubai Art Season (DAS) throughout March and April under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman, Dubai Culture. DAS is Dubai Culture’s flagship umbrella arts event and holds pride of place in the city’s busy cultural calendar. It features a two-month citywide portfolio of arts events, including the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, SIKKA Art Fair and Art Dubai, among hundreds of other creative initiatives and activities across Dubai.

The season has kicked off with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, for which Dubai Culture is the Strategic Partner. Running Mar. 1 - 10 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Festival City, it is the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. It complements the UAE’s National Reading Month in March, with more than 200 sessions featuring 180 bestselling authors from across the world.

Running at the same time, Dubai Canvas returns for a fourth edition to showcase Dubai’s creative energy and cultural vibrancy, by transforming public spaces at La Mer Jumeriah into ‘open-air canvases’ for artists to create and display their work. The unique public art festival brings together works from the world’s leading 3D artists while also providing a platform for other innovative art forms.

On Mar. 14, Opera Gallery, DIFC, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the region, by opening an exhibition of works by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdes. It will be supported by the Spanish embassy and run for a month, after which five of Valdes’ sculptures will remain in DIFC’s outdoor areas for a year.

The season continues with Art Week (Mar. 17 – 24), headlined by the eighth edition of SIKKA Art fair (Mar. 17 – 26) at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Then it is on to Art Dubai — the region’s largest international art fair — Mar. 20 - 24. SIKKA, the contemporary, artist-led fair for emerging Emirati, UAE-based and GCC talent, features over 40 artworks across a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, art installations, workshops, films, music and performing arts.

DAS will also see the return of DIFC Art Nights, for which Dubai Culture is the Cultural Partner, and Al Serkal Avenue Galleries Night, both of which will take place on March 19, bringing two major areas of Dubai to life with art installations, exhibitions and talent.

The season continues with Van Gogh Alive – The Experience, an acclaimed art exhibition that has been touring the world and will stop in Dubai Mar. 11 – April 23. Visitors will discover over 3,000 images displayed on walls with high-definition projectors, as well as a specially curated classical soundtrack they can enjoy as they immerse themselves in some of Van Gogh’s most famous works.

Additionally, during the art season, music fans will also have the chance to see the World Doctors Orchestra (Mar. 22) at Dubai Opera, where physicians from around the world will exchange their white coats for evening attire to perform a charity concert in Dubai for one night only.

DAS features other major events including the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards (Mar. 12); the Middle East Film & Comic Con at the World Trade Centre (Apr. 5 – 7); the ING Creative Festival 2018, Al Serkal Avenue (Apr. 11- 13); and World Art Dubai 2018 at the World Trade Centre (Apr. 18 – 21).

During the season, Dubai Culture is collaborating with the Burj Khalifa to provide a unique opportunity for emerging designers, light and 3D mapping artists who are part of the Creatopia community, to showcase their work on the LED façade of the iconic landmark during March and April. Submissions must be sent to before Mar. 10. Further details can be found at

SIKKA Art Fair aims to directly engage the public and Dubai’s artistic community with the return of the social media campaign called Capture Creativity. The social media Instagram competition encourages the community to share photos and videos capturing their creative moments during the two-month season.

This year, participants in the campaign will have the opportunity to win weekly prizes until the end of April by mentioning @dubaiartseason and using the hashtags #CaptureCreativity and #DXBArtseason18 in their posts.

200 artists submitted their works this year for SIKKA, with 50 being accepted. This is an improvement on the 155 who applied last year, of which 29 were accepted. This year also, ten artists are being commissioned.

Artworks going on display were introduced by their creators at the launch event in Alserkal Cultural Foundation (ACF), Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. The works will include contemporary takes on Bedouin life, bringing Emirati identity into the modern world; a makeover of the bisht or the traditional men’s cloak; a nostalgic journey into a senior citizen’s room (the grandmother of one of the artists) which shows her school certificates, an old clock, among other pieces; exploration of Islamic geometry; the presentation of a digital platform; Arabic calligraphy with contemporary refashioning and a ‘Saudi House’ which will bring to life the diversity and colours of Saudi Arabia from an Emirati perspective.     

The launch was officially announced by Dubai Culture officials who also gave an overview of the events to be held. Participating artists introduced themselves, with Mai Khalid Fairooz, Senior Officer, Marketing and Corporate Communication Department, Dubai Culture, being host. 

Annamaria Bersani, ACF Director, gave a vote of thanks, saying that she was “proud and gratified” that the foundation was chosen as the launch venue.

Dubai Culture strives to drive the growth of the Emirate’s artistic and cultural landscape. It plays a major role in the realisation of the Dubai Plan 2021, to highlight Dubai as a thriving capital for creative industries

As part of its mandate, it has several initiatives focused on strengthening both the historic and modern cultural fabric of Dubai, including, besides the above mentioned events, Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre, an annual festival that fosters the art of theatre in the UAE which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016, and Dubai Next, a platform that aims to showcase the Emirate’s cultural ethos and creative scene on the global stage.

The authority’s other key initiatives include Creatopia (, which is the UAE’s first government empowered virtual community that guides and nurtures the creative culture of the nation for exposure and personal growth.

Dubai Culture also plays a leading role in support of the UAE National Strategy for Reading 2026, in particular by undertaking a major refurbishment of all Dubai Public Libraries branches to transform them into state-of-art cultural and artistic hubs.

It manages more than 16 heritage sites across the Emirate, and is a key government stakeholder in the development of Dubai Historical District. As the custodian authority of Dubai’s museum sector, Dubai Culture officially launched Etihad Museum in 2016. This provides a platform to encourage cultural exchange and connects Emirati youth with their culture and history.

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