x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Directory for Emirati artists

The Mawahib directory will profile 50 Emirati artists, including photographers and graphic designers,

DUBAI // A directory is being created to showcase the talents of 50 Emirati artists who specialise in graphic design, photography and illustration.

The idea came to the designer Mariam bin Natoof, 30, when she noticed how few platforms existed for Emirati artists.

"I always wanted a book I could be featured in, but that never happened," Ms Natoof said. "I thought, 'Why not start something instead of waiting for someone to do it?'"

The book, called Mawahib, which is Arabic for "talent", is to be launched in December.

Among those already accepted for the directory is Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, a 30-year-old conceptual artist whose work has been exhibited at Al Qattara Art Centre in Al Ain and consists of digital art, photography and collage.

"I am really happy and excited to be featured in it, because it's the first of its kind in the UAE, if not in the Arab world," Mr Al Shamsi said. "I believe it's a great initiative for UAE nationals and artists."

Ms Natoof hopes Mawahib will be a source for clients looking to hire artists whose work suits their brand. "Why hire from outside when you have local talent here?" she said.

Included in the book's pages will be full-time professional artists, moonlighters and students in their final year of college.

Each artist will have a two-page spread: a full page dedicated to a single artwork, and editorial text with contact information and more images on the other.

To date, 30 artists have been selected, and 20 more will be chosen by the July 30 booking deadline.

Ms Natoof said she had been hugely impressed by the quality of work she had seen so far.

"I've seen amazing photography from the people who submitted their work, but the problem is that no one knows about them. The public is not aware that we have these individuals," she said.

Shaima Al Malik, a 26-year-old illustrator and graphic designer who will be featured in Mawahib, thinks it will be good for business.

"I think a directory is an easy way for clients to find us and learn about us," she said. "I hope my artworks become more popular."

Mawahib will be published in Arabic and English. "They usually criticise you if you print something and it's purely in English," Ms Natoof noted. "They say 'You are from the UAE, you need to have it in Arabic', and I agree with that."