x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE's Venice pavilion to be run by young 'ambassadors'

Volunteer "ambassadors" will staff the national pavilion at the Venice Biennale contemporary art exhibition, which runs from June 7 to Nov 22.

ABU DHABI // Volunteer "ambassadors" will staff the national pavilion at the Venice Biennale contemporary art exhibition, which runs from June 7 to Nov 22. Takatof, a 2007 community service initiative by the Emirates Foundation, will send about eight groups of young volunteers to Italy over six months to run the UAE stand in Venice. Each group will spend three weeks there.

The volunteers will not only oversee the day-to-day activities at the pavilion but will also "represent the UAE". According to Takatof, they will be trained to answer detailed questions and give information about the nation to "curious visitors". The commissioner for the UAE pavilion in Venice, Dr Lamees Hamdan, said the aim was to ensure that visitors to the pavilion were greeted by people who know the Emirates inside-out.

"The volunteers are our ambassadors and will therefore play an important role," she said, adding that they already had useful experience at cultural events such as the Emirati Expressions exhibition at the Emirates Palace earlier this year. Maytha al Habsi, director of Takatof ("shoulder-to-shoulder" in Arabic), said the organisation aimed to embed volunteering into UAE culture. "The prestigious international art event will offer these carefully selected volunteers a unique opportunity to experience many aspects of world culture as well as to represent the nation in a new artistic environment," she said.

The UAE pavilion, sponsored by the Emirates Foundation on behalf of the Government, will house work by the nation's most prominent contemporary artists and designers. Next door in the Arsenale Novissimo, the converted dockyard that has become one of the two main venues for the Biennale, will be a separate pavilion run by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. This is the first time a GCC country has been represented at the Biennale.

hhassan@thenational.ae