x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai's art scene takes centre stage at London's Arab culture show

A celebration of Arab culture will be held at a week-long series of arts events in London.

DUBAI // The city's fast-growing arts scene will be showcased at a massive celebration of contemporary Arab culture that is being held in London this month.

Brownbook, the Dubai-based arts magazine, is staging a week-long series of events including a photographic exhibition, a book launch and a discussion session. The presentation, called Dubai Futures, will run at the AIR gallery in the centre of the British capital from July 18 to July 23.

It is one of more than 70 events being staged at more than 30 venues across London by Mayor Boris Johnson in a festival called Shubbak - Arabic for window.

Arab artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers and architects from around the world are taking part.

Contributors from the Emirates will join those from the Gulf and North Africa, among other countries.

Shubbak "is a unique chance for Londoners to glimpse the breadth and excellence of contemporary Arab culture," Mr Johnson said at the launch of the event.

Brownbook says Dubai Futures will "celebrate the dynamism of Dubai's young, creative entrepreneurs and culture makers".

The photo exhibition will feature pictures by the French artist Cédric Delsaux showing characters and hardware from the Star Wars films superimposed onto shots of Dubai.

The works, part of Delsaux's Dark Lens series, caused a stir when they were first exhibited in 2009 at the Empty Quarter gallery at the Dubai International Financial Centre. The exhibition was one of the gallery's most successful in terms of sales, and the collection went on to be shown in Paris and at a Star Wars convention in the US.

"Cédric's work is fantastic," said Rashid bin Shabib, Brownbook editor-in-chief.

"I think people find Dubai unreal to some extent because of the massive developments. To us, because we've grown up here, the Palm Jumeirah and the Burj Khalifa seem normal, but I think the global audience has this perspective of Dubai being unreal.

"So I think this comical way of showcasing Dubai in a Stars Wars setting plays well to an international audience."

Elie Domit, a partner at the Empty Quarter, said: "We're hoping it will have a big impact in London. Because it's in this programme about Arab contemporary art and there's this showcase on Dubai, hopefully people will come and experience the way this artist saw the city."

Mr bin Shabib said Dubai Futures was designed to show the world a different side of Dubai.

"We tend to do a lot of global activities representing the UAE on a cultural level," he said.

"We heard London was doing this event, so we approached Shubbak and explained that we were developing a contemporary presentation about Dubai."