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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Ministers ‘proud’ of Emirati achievement at international design festival

The large installation took the form of 70 large hourglasses, representing the decade in which the UAE was founded

The ministers were impressed with the Time Is Subjective installation at the London Design Biennale. Stephen Lock for the National
The ministers were impressed with the Time Is Subjective installation at the London Design Biennale. Stephen Lock for the National

UAE Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh’s quest to further cultural links between the UAE and the rest of the world took a step forward on Thursday as he visited an Emirati installation at a London design festival.

Mr Nusseibeh was accompanied on the visit to the London Design Biennale at London’s Southbank Centre by Noura Al Kaabi, the minister for culture and knowledge development, and Suleiman Al Mazroui, the ambassador to the UK.

All three expressed their pride in the work of Emirati design firm Tinkah, which devised, pitched and created the ‘Time is Subjective’ installation on behalf of the UAE.

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The installation formed part of a collection of works from around the world on the subject of ‘Emotional States’. In a clever interpretation of the theme, the Tinkah team chose to represent time as an emotion, capturing the UAE’s pride in how far it has come in its short 46-year history and the Emirates’ ambitions for the future.

This took the form of 70 large hourglasses, representing the in which the UAE was founded, in seven rows, one for each of the emirates. The hourglasses rotate, showing the passage of time.

Noura Al Kaabi with Tinkah founders Reem al Ghaith (left) and Kholoud Sharafi at the UAE pavilion. Stephen Lock / The National
Noura Al Kaabi with Tinkah founders Reem al Ghaith (left) and Kholoud Sharafi at the UAE pavilion. Stephen Lock / The National

After being shown the installation and chatting animatedly to its creators, Mr Nusseibeh told The National: “We were very proud to come and see [the installation] because it had a very intelligent concept behind it. I am impressed by the designers’ idea of setting up this installation as a flux of time representing the seven emirates with 70 different hourglasses where you can see the sand slipping through and coming back every two hours.”

The UAE’s participation in the Biennale undoubtably fits well with the goals of the newly-created Office for Public and Cultural Diplomacy; to forge new and strengthen old cultural ties and give different perceptions of Emirati culture to the wider world.

The minister said he hoped the ‘Time Is Subjective’ installation would show international visitors to the Biennale “ a completely different image than the one that they normally have of the Emirates — either as a tourist hub, oil country or financial centre.”

Ms Al Kaabi expressed her particular pride that the founders of Tinkah, which recently opened an office in London, are Emirati women operating at high level in their field.

“What I like is that our designers are at a level that is not in its early stages. It is sophisticated, will provoke thought and will help get more people to know about the UAE from a different perspective.”

“Having ministers travel all the way from the UAE to come and see it, is an achievement for us,” said Reem Al Ghaith, one of Tinkah’s founders.

The team were pleased to show the ministers the permanence of the installation and are hoping that after the Biennale ends on September 23, it will find a home in an appropriate space.

“From here, we imagine it being a significant panel or wall in a very important building, whether the ministry of foreign affairs or maybe in the airport,” said Mr Al Ghaith.

“You can imagine people walking around it, appreciating it, understanding why there are 70 hourglasses in seven rows.”

Egypt’s installation, ‘Modernist Indignation’, won the main prize at the Biennale, awarded to the country that has made “the most outstanding overall contribution”.

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