x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Plans for an Emirati art gallery garner an international buzz

Art students and graduates of Zayed University have found themselves the centre of attention after being interviewed for The National on Saturday last week.

Art students and graduates of Zayed University have found themselves the centre of attention after being interviewed for The National on Saturday last week. The six young women, who are planning to open a non-commercial contemporary gallery to showcase their work and support local talent, have been invited to meet Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart, the Swiss ambassador. Meanwhile, a London-based television production company is hoping to feature the women in a film about arts and culture in the UAE. One of the students, Noorah Ramah, 21, said: "It has been really exciting that people have wanted to contact us and know more about the gallery. It's an honour for us."

Newcomers to Dubai might think its wealth is a relatively recent discovery on the back of the black gold first pumped out of the ground 50 years ago. But according to professor Hasan al Naboodah, of the UAE University, the emirate's streets were paved with real gold as far back as the 12th century.

The professor, who is set to publish a paper on the history of Emirati place names next year, tells The Falcon: "The word Dubai occurs in an old Arab idiom. Ibn Manzur [who compiled comprehensive Arabic dictionaries in the 12th century] defined it as a 'place where there is abundance and goods and loads of money'. Perhaps the word Dubai was not as renowned in his lifetime so he might have thought it referred to an extensive desert within the confines of the Emirates."

He adds that Ahmed bin Majed, the 15th century navigator and poet, is a sound source of place names and historical facts thanks to his widespread travels around the Indian Ocean. "His poems and chants have helped many contemporary scholars and intellectuals unravel a number of historical facts. "We are grateful to him for having mentioned the names of some northern emirates, namely Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm al Qaiwain and Ajman in one of his poems. "We can conclude those towns were called as such before the Portuguese came to the region."

Organisers of Dubai's classic car festival last week must have been relieved after a ban on cars over 20 years old was postponed indefinitely. While most of the entries were more than 30 years old and count as classic cars exempt from the new proposed rules, some fell just shy of the age bracket. Those in the 1981-1983 category could breathe easy after the law, due to come in last Tuesday, was dropped at the 11th hour.

More than 150 cars were entered, including a 1963 Porsche and a 1920 Ford. Mohammed ben Sulayem, the rally driving champion, displayed 20 cars from his own collection and said optimistically: "We have a growing community of classic car lovers in the UAE and are looking forward to staging many events that will bring them together."