ABU DHABI // Budding Emirati artists should be encouraged to view their talent not just as a hobby, but as a future career, said a Sharjah-based impressionist on the eve of her first exhibition in Switzerland.
Muna Abdulqader al Ali, a full-time IT professional who honed her creative skills in summer classes taught at the Emirates Fine Art Society, said she had seen many talented Emiratis give up too soon because of a lack of financial support.
"I believe that artists who display their artwork and participate in local and international galleries and events, should be given a paid leave from their current work," she said.
Al Ali is one of four artists to be featured in an exhibition next Thursday called Emirati Art - Four by Three, part of the Emirati-Swiss Friendship Forum in Lausanne.
Al Ali most recently participated in MinD (Made in Dubai), an exhibition at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre that featured 20 local artists.
"I'm used to having my drawings go somewhere outside [the UAE], but this is my first time going to Switzerland," she said. "For me it's a new experience, to see how people react to my paintings. It's like building some exchange. I can gain more experience and see their works, and they can see our works."
The forum, which was launched last year, aims to unite the two countries across a spectrum of fields including the environment, health, culture and tourism.
Al Ali's paintings - a mix of acrylic and oil paintings - will be shown at the forum alongside those of Khalid al Banna, Ahmed Sharif and Nasir Nasrallah.
Nasrallah, who has previously shown at the Cairo Biennale and whose works depict Middle Eastern fruit and vegetable markets, will also be in Switzerland for the exhibition.
Also part of the showcase are Reham Eiz al Din, an Emirati henna artist, and Mona al Mansouri, an Emirati fashion designer, who has sent 28 dresses, including one designed to depict links between the two countries.
"It features a big heart, on the front, that shows the Swiss national flag, and is surrounded by seven, smaller, hearts that represent each Emirate," she said.
The Friendship Forum runs on Wednesday and Thursday. The art will be exhibited at Hôtel Beau Rivage before it is moved to Gallery Plexus, in Montreux, where it will be on display until July 10. Al Mansouri's fashion show will debut at the same hotel before moving to the Musée Suisse de la Mode, Yverdon, until the end of July.