x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Trendspotting: Focus shifts to community and belonging

As the new year approaches and we resolve to pursue more meaningful activities, we seek to support and interact with the people around us.

The Pavilion Downtown Dubai offers a place to support artists and become part of the local arts community. Randi Sokoloff for The National
The Pavilion Downtown Dubai offers a place to support artists and become part of the local arts community. Randi Sokoloff for The National

As the year draws to a close and we look towards the future, we resolve to leave greed, vanity and selfishness behind in the pursuit of something more meaningful, fulfilling and fair.

The UN has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, describing cooperatives as "people who unite to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly and democratically controlled enterprise". This definition holds particular relevance as we witness the bids to effect societal change across the Middle East and North Africa.

All around the world communities are reforming to emphasise the collective and a sense of belonging.

The High Line project in New York is a striking example of this trend. The abandoned railway line has been transformed into a2.3 kilometre elevated public park, enabling New Yorkers to take time out in the country in the heart of Manhattan, giving them a chance to slow their pace and reconnect with nature as well as each other. Founded in 1999 by area residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the rail line's preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. Running from the Meatpacking District through West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen to the West Side rail yards, the strip along 23rd Street has become a favourite spot for picnicking, sunbathing and people watching.

Since the first phase of the High Line opened in 2009, development in the neighbourhoods that lie along it has grown. Residents eager to be a part of this new urban community are helping to boost the real estate market in the middle of a recession.

Closer to home, we residents of such a diverse country as the UAE have the unique opportunity to enjoy a truly global community by participating in local events and groups and by embracing the multitude of cultures around us.

The Pavilion Downtown Dubai is one such opportunity. The contemporary art space offers a platform to promote an active arts community by providing a place to view, discuss and support the work of a new generation of local creatives as well as international artists. The Pavilion includes two art galleries, a library, cinema, restaurant, espresso bar, shisha cafe and lounge.

Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before our local interior retail outlets begin offering a more eclectic mix of contemporary, quality home products that reflect the cultural melting pot our country is known and loved for. By seeking to surround ourselves with a mix of cultures in our homes, we will open our minds to a more global view.

Shelley Pond is the creative director of Scarlet Opus. For more information visit www.trendsblog.co.uk or www.twitter.com/scarletopus