Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival at Expo City Dubai & interview with co-curator Amna Abulhoul

Dhai Dubai, the inaugural Emirati-led light art festival at Expo City Dubai, illuminates the city’s cultural scene from January 26 to February 4. The festival, organised by Expo City Dubai in collaboration with AGB Creative and supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, features artistic projections, interactive installations, enlightening talks, and creative workshops, showcasing the diverse perspectives of Emirati and international artists. The festival is curated by Amna Abulhoul and Anthony Bastic.

Reem Al Ghaith, Daraweezna, Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival

Renowned Emirati artists such as Mattar Bin Lahej, Dr. Najat Makki, and Abdulla Almulla, among others, will feature their installations in the event. The iconic Al Wasl Plaza’s dome hosts the “Sisters of the Desert” projection shows, paying tribute to the late Emirati artist Dhabia Juma Lamlah.

In line with Dubai’s commitment to humanitarianism, Dhai Dubai collaborates with the Liter of Light initiative, providing solar lighting to communities with limited access to electricity. Festival-goers can pledge their support for this cause and interact with various installations, including the people-powered Speed of Light skate park and the interactive Solar Canopy.

Amna Abulhoul, Executive Creative Director at Expo City Dubai, and co-curator of Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival shares with us insights about the Art Festival:

Amna Abulhoul Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival Curator and Executive Creative Director at Expo City Dubai (1)

Could you inform us about the selection process for the Emirati artists featured in the Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival? What criteria were considered to ensure a diverse representation of multiple generations and cohesive storytelling of Dubai’s essence?

The selection process was indeed challenging, given the abundance of brilliant artists in the UAE. However, our unwavering belief in the significance of showcasing Emirati talent guided our decisions.

The chosen lineup of artists was carefully curated based on their exceptional work, which transcends mere installations and instead serves as narratives woven in light. These artworks not only reflect the UAE’s rich heritage but also act as windows to our collective future. The artists bring a wealth of experience, both locally and globally, contributing to a diverse representation of multiple generations.

The narrative of Dubai’s essence is vividly portrayed through the artists’ creations, bridging the realms of art and culture while seamlessly connecting the past and future through the profound influence of light. Despite the challenges in the selection process, the common thread among all chosen artists is their focus on celebrating and preserving UAE heritage through their art.

In our commitment to nurturing local talent and presenting their creations to the world, bringing their diverse works together in the UAE provides a wonderful opportunity.

 

The participating artists each have distinct narratives. How do their individual stories contribute to a collective representation of Dubai, and what do you hope visitors will take away from this unique artistic integration under the Al Wasl Dome?

Khalid AlShafar’s The Nomad 2.0, Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival

The Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival serves as a platform where each participating artist and designer brings forth their unique narratives, contributing to a rich and multifaceted collective representation of Dubai. By drawing on distinct perspectives, these creative minds weave a cultural tapestry that vividly reflects the essence of the city and the UAE.

Immersing visitors in the rich cultural fabric of the vibrant country, the event fosters a deeper connection to the individual stories of the artists. This, in turn, extends to a more profound understanding of Dubai’s collective identity. We anticipate that attendees will take away a deeper appreciation for the city’s complexity, embracing its cultural richness, social dynamics, and the dynamic interplay between tradition and modernity.

Beyond the visually stunning displays, the event features engaging talks and interactive workshops, providing visitors with a comprehensive exploration of the artistry and cultural significance behind each creation.

Transforming the iconic Al Wasl Plaza dome into a larger-than-life canvas, the festival will also showcase special projection shows of art pieces, including those from international guest artists. Through these works, the event highlights the rich, universal resilience that unites us all, emphasising the power of art to bridge individuals and cultures across seemingly immense distances.

Collectively, these elements create a holistic showcase of remarkable artists, offering an unforgettable experience for visitors from around the world.

Dr. Mohamed Yousef’s I’m still a child, Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival

About Expo City Dubai

Expo City Dubai, a key hub in the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, is an inclusive, innovation-driven city of the future. Committed to fostering positive social, environmental, and economic impacts, it sets ambitious goals for sustainability and decarbonisation, aiming for net zero emissions by 2050. The city’s ecosystem encourages collaboration across sectors, facilitating business growth and contributing to Dubai’s global trade prominence. Its residential areas prioritise eco-friendly design and well-being, while serving as a hub for innovation and groundbreaking ideas. With diverse educational and cultural offerings, Expo City Dubai celebrates creativity and fosters a sustainable, equitable future through collective efforts of businesses, government, residents, and visitors.

Location: Expo City Dubai

Dates: January 26 to February 4

Caption featured image: Sisters of the Desert projection, Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival

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