x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

2013 in review: what we learnt in culture during the past 12 months

It’s been a satisfyingly full year. There have been concerts to attend and movie awards to applaud; art to appreciate, books to admire and food to savour. The National staff take a fun look back at 2013.

The organisers of Abu Dhabi Art reimbursed the galleries in the pavilion after heavy rains and winds forced it to close temporarily. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National
The organisers of Abu Dhabi Art reimbursed the galleries in the pavilion after heavy rains and winds forced it to close temporarily. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

Perseverance pays off

The popular Inspector Rebus author Ian Rankin’s appearance at this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature was full of sage advice for aspiring writers. The biggest of which is that success comes when you put yourself out there: “The biggest jump that you are ever going to take is at some point you are going to show that story to a stranger and then there might be some criticism. You’ve got to learn to take criticism and rejection and just persevere. The first Rebus novel was rejected by the first five publishers who saw it.” – Saeed Saeed

We need more kindness in the world

Jessie J has faced her own share of struggles. After spending most of her childhood in hospitals battling a heart condition, the UK pop star stated an act of kindness goes a long way. “People are desperate for people to do good things and I don’t think enough in the limelight do that. You should use your light and shift it on to places that are dark.” – Saeed Saeed

Even maestros get stage fright

You would think that after performing to millions of fans Andrea Bocelli is averse to stage fright. However, according to the Italian tenor, he still gets the jitters every show night. “I feel stage fright as a result of the burden I feel from the responsibility to myself, to the music and to the audiences,” he said. “There is no ritual procedure that I do or use sorcery or anything like that. I just have to go on and overcome it like any other obstacles.” – Saeed Saeed

Try your best

To say Timbaland’s performance at Dubai Music Week in September was shoddy is an understatement. However, the superstar producer cleared the slate with UAE fans two months later after rescuing an awkward situation at Jay Z’s du Arena concert. When the generator blew and the crowd was getting anxious for the rapper’s return, up stepped Timbaland – part of Jay Z’s touring band – to perform a wonderfully inspired short solo set by building beats on the spot using a drum machine and record samples. It was a big ask and Timbaland proved his pedigree as one of the music world’s most creative minds. – Saeed Saeed

When you are Justin Bieber, you can get away with almost anything

Stepping on stage nearly three hours late to thousands of tired tween fans, getting a speeding ticket for zooming down Sheikh Zayed Road in a white Lamborghini, getting kicked out of a nightclub and doing some bling shopping at The Dubai Mall – that’s just a typical Dubai weekend for Justin Bieber. – Saeed Saeed

Every cloud has a silver lining

Although heavy rain and winds caused considerable damage to the UAE National Pavilion on the second morning of Abu Dhabi Art, forcing the fair to temporarily close while they moved countless pieces of priceless art into a weather-proof area, we later learned that it was not all bad news. The 22 galleries in the pavilion were given a full refund on their participation fee and the remaining 24 received 40 per cent back for the disruption caused. “I’ve been to many fairs in the world where worse things than this have happened and never seen a penny back,” said one gallerist. – Anna Seaman

Don’t believe everything you hear

Despite the accepted opinion that the UAE’s art scene is still emerging and is in its burgeoning stages, one curator pointed out this year that is it not the artists who are just learning the ropes, it is simply infrastructure that has been lacking. As she opened the third instalment of Emirati Expressions, on Saadiyat Island, Reem Fadda told us: “The UAE has a very sophisticated art scene that is well established and has its own, autonomous language. It is not sheltered, these artists are not compromised and they have been questioning themselves and their art for many years.” – Anna Seaman

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

The chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s black cod in miso was a hit from the day he launched it 15 years ago. Having achieved legendary status in food circles, the dish has been copied by restaurants around the world. Chef Nobu was sage about his recipe’s replication upon a trip to Dubai this year. “When my first cookbook came out about containing the recipe, my customers asked: ‘Why would you reveal the secret?’ But you know what? Yes, anyone can cook it and everyone can copy me, but nobody can get inside my heart. It makes me very proud when people make Nobu-style food, because it means they like it.” – Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane

Love someone more than you need them

The Hollywood icon Martin Sheen picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Dubai International Film Festival. The event coincided with the actor’s 52nd wedding anniversary. Love, respect and independence, he revealed, were the secrets to the union’s success: “Neither person should look for the other to make them happy, that won’t work. You’re only responsible for loving each other and telling the whole truth, all the time. There’s a great freedom in that, when you trust another with your exterior and interior life; then you nourish each other.” – Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane

Changing the name of the game and playing to your strengths

Alice Cooper joined professional golfers at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Challenge Match in Dubai in January. His personal journey from alcoholic, shock-rock performer to clean-living, semi-pro sportsman was inspirational to hear. “I absolutely love the game and play six days a week,” he said. “I stopped drinking about 30 years ago and started playing golf instead. I had to trade one addiction for another. A bad one for a good one.” – Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane

It is never too late to dream

It takes several years of training and discipline to gain the reputation of a maestro. The Emirati pianist Ibrahim Al Junaibi regrets not being able to embark on that journey at a young age, but believes it is never too late to achieve your goals. The 32-year-old self-taught musician, who aims to become the UAE’s first major composer, began professional training only a few years ago. “I always listen to music and think about it all the time,” said Al Junaibi, who has performed in local and international concerts. “I started to learn very late but I do not want to give up.” – Afshan Ahmed

Grow veggies on your balcony

That small space in your apartment can be converted easily into a small garden to source fresh veggies for meals. Founders of the Dubai chapter of Slow Food, an international, not-for-profit organisation that promotes local, clean and fair produce, have been encouraging members to grow at home. “Grow your own food,” says Laura Allais-Maré, the leader of the Dubai convivium. “You can grow a variety of herbs and vegetables on your balcony.” She says micro greens, herbs – rosemary, coriander, lemon mint, lady finger – tomatoes, bitter gourd and even bananas can be grown in an apartment space. – Afshan Ahmed

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