x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Going once, twice, sold: 20 Burj Khalifas for Dh1 million

The 2.5-metre tall Burj Khalifa sculptures - adorned by prominent UAE artists - were sold to raise money for education projects in developing nations.

Mohamed Alabbar, founding member and Chairman of Emaar Properties (left) and Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares (right) unveil the artwork of Emirati artist, Maryam Al Sayegh, as part of the the Burj of Giving auction in benefit of Dubai Cares. Twenty-one artistically adorned Burj Khalifa scale models were auctioned off to raise funds for developing nations. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mohamed Alabbar, founding member and Chairman of Emaar Properties (left) and Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares (right) unveil the artwork of Emirati artist, Maryam Al Sayegh, as part of the the Burj of Giving auction in benefit of Dubai Cares. Twenty-one artistically adorned Burj Khalifa scale models were auctioned off to raise funds for developing nations. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // Twenty small Burj Khalifas, each decorated by prominent Emirati artists, have raised more than Dh1 million for education projects in developing nations.

The 2.5-metre tall towers were adorned as part of a Dubai Cares campaign supported by Emaar and the Ara Gallery.

The first 19 structures were sold for tens of thousands of dirhams to organisations that responded to a call from Dubai Cares.

The final multicoloured Burj, decorated by Emirati realist Abdul Qader Al Raes, went under the hammer at a live auction yesterday.

After a 10-minute battle between five bidders, it was bagged by an Arab woman for Dh130,000.

Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares, said he was surprised by the amount of money raised and overwhelmed by the generosity.

“We need efforts such as these to provide outlets to the community to volunteer and give,” said Mr Al Gurg. “Unfortunately, unlike the West where volunteering is part of the society’s fabric and imbibed right from school, that is not the case here.”

The Emirati artists were given a month and half to design a Burj Khalifa that would represent their styles and thoughts on the UAE.

Maryam Al Sayegh, 25, cloaked her tower in black and etched quotes by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and the Ruler of Dubai, at the base. Figures made of gold leaf were added.

“When I was approached by the gallery for the project I had no idea,” Ms Al Sayegh said.

“I started looking through newspapers and the recent coverage of projects announced by Sheikh Mohammed and some of the things he said about the importance of success. That’s when it struck me.”

Her tower was unveiled by Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties which bought the piece for Dh50,000.

Dr Najah Makki, one of the oldest artist involved, wanted to use the colours of the desert and sea.

“I divided it into three levels to represent how the Burj Khalifa caught the fancy of millions across the world,” said Ms Makki, 63.

aahmed@thenational.ae