x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Ask Ali: Finding local art and well-wishing at Eid

Ali Al Saloom offers tips and advice for living and working in the UAE.

Dear Ali: I would like to ask where I can find artists in Abu Dhabi city who can paint Arabic landscapes? I am an expatriate living here and I want to find an artist who can paint an Arabic dhow on the sea that features a sunset in the background. I intend to give it as a birthday gift. Are there any parts of Abu Dhabi where there are some art shops that showcase the work of some local artists? ME, Abu Dhabi

Dear ME: Trust me when I say, we have plenty of great artists in the UAE, and I can put you in contact with the right people and galleries. If you check on my portal or own a copy of Ask Ali: A Guide to Abu Dhabi, you can find a list of art galleries owned by Emiratis that offer what you are looking for. One of them is Al Ghaf Gallery, run by artists Jalal Luqman and Mohamed Kanoo. They are well-known artists in the Gulf art scene; their gallery can be found on 30th Street in Abu Dhabi beside the British Vet clinic. You may visit their Ghaf blog and website, ghafgallery.blogspot.com and get in touch with them directly. Tell them I said hi!

Another option also is to pay a visit to the Art and Handicraft Centre located at the National Theatre just opposite from Abu Dhabi Media Company. Plenty of artists drop in to work and it has a shop that carries artwork.

Another centre you can contact is Mohamed Al Astad's Artistic Creativity Centre, created and managed by Mohamed Al Astad; the art piece you're asking for can undoubtedly be found in his collections and he can be contacted at 02 633 0446 or info@alastad.net.

Last and not least, you can go and pay a visit to my dearest friend, the artist, Matar bin Lahaj, another guru on the art scene in the UAE. His gallery is located in Dubai and you may get in touch with him and his gallery at mattarartist.blogspot.com

I hope these options will help you.


Dear Ali: My firm serves a number of individuals who come from the Gulf region. We recognise and respect our clients, and would like to wish them well on the upcoming occasion of Eid. What is the best way of doing this? RI, Durango, USA

Dear RI: "Eid Mubarak" and "Eid Saeed" are the two phrases we use all the time for our two major Islamic festivals. Remember not all of the Gulf people are Muslims, but just play it safe by sending a greeting card or a greeting email to your clients, wishing them a happy and a blessed Eid. Even better, why not give them a phone call and wish them a happy Eid on the same day of Eid or a night before?

God bless.


Dear Ali: I have been invited to a local wedding later in the year and I was wondering if, as a Scotsman, it would be OK for me to wear my kilt? JW, Abu Dhabi

Dear JW: A suit is what we are more used to seeing an expat wear at weddings here in the UAE. But of course wearing the kilt is also totally fine and I believe it will be so nice for others to see it, as it is your culture. Just expect lots of staring and curious and surprised looks!

I have a friend who married a half-Emirati, half-Scottish woman, so the wedding photos have a mix of kanduras and kilts - very traditional and Braveheart. Everybody was totally fine with it and even wanted to take pictures with us.

Just remember, winter is getting here soon, so watch out. It can be really freezing, if you know what I mean!

Wishing you and the wedding partners and family all the best.


Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.