x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Art contest that was sealed with a kiss

Art contest sponsored by Dubai's Community Development Authority gets kids to ask difficult questions about life.

Mohammed Salmin, 8, from Abu Hanifa Boys Primary School, with his winning drawing of a son kissing his father's head.
Mohammed Salmin, 8, from Abu Hanifa Boys Primary School, with his winning drawing of a son kissing his father's head.

DUBAI // The picture drawn by 12-year-old Aliya bin Humaidan is haunting: a housemaid with limbs stretched in all directions, and a man's angry face to one side.

"She takes care of the baby, she cleans, she cooks," said Aliya's sister Hessa, 15, explaining the picture on the theme of human rights.

"And the father is yelling, 'Nobody cares about you.' At the end she wants to kill herself."

Aliya was one of several Emirati pupils who asked difficult questions about life in the UAE for an art contest sponsored by Dubai's Community Development Authority (CDA).

Her picture came second in her age category at an awards ceremony yesterday. Government schools across the emirate took part, said Aisha Al Marri, director of studies and international cooperation in the CDA's human rights sector.

Children from Grade 1 up discussed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during their classes this semester. They gave their interpretation of it through art or writing.

"In primary schools, they just understand some rights," Ms Al Marri said. "In high school, as you can see from the pictures, they have a very high knowledge of human rights."

Twenty-four young painters, illustrators and photographers won prizes, while 10 young writers were awarded for short stories.

Winners received Dh5,000; runners-up Dh3,000 and those who placed third Dh2,000.

Some children created happier images of people helping others.

Mohammed Salmin, 8, drew a father kneeling with his son kissing his head. The picture shows the importance of love and respect, said Hanifa Al Ghaitha, one of the Grade 3 pupil's teachers at Abu Hanifa Boys Primary School.

Aliya, in Grade 6 at Al Waha Girls School, wants to be an artist when she grows up. Hessa explained why Aliya chose to depict a maid.

"We should take care of these people, because they come from other countries to make money," she said. "They come alone."

This is the CDA's first such contest. Ms Al Marri said she wanted to expand it to private schools next year.

vnereim@thenational.ae