The Arab Gulf States Institute, in cooperation with the Middle East Institute, co-hosted a talk about the growing visual arts sector in the United Arab Emirates featuring H.E. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), a leading non-profit organization that nurtures the arts and culture of the Emirates through education, professional development, and community programs. Ms. Kanoo was joined by Mr. Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, artist and advisor to ADMAF, and Ms. Lisa Ball-Lechgar, advisor to the founder.
H.E. Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation
Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, Ghaf Art Gallery
Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation
Kate Seelye, Senior Vice President, Middle East Institute (Moderator)
Amb. Marcelle M. Wahba, President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (Welcome Remarks)
The guests explored the diversity of the UAE’s dynamic visual arts sector and its contribution to the strategic vision of the country. “Our roots in the arts are not new, for art has been embedded in us through our own historical traditions In the UAE,” said Ms. Kanoo. “This is reflected in the graceful, flowing beauty of Arabic calligraphy, the mesmerizing geometry of Islamic art, the creative expression of Emirati embroidery through to the immensely powerful visualization of the written word and the lyrical splendor of our oral poetry,” she added.
The speakers also introduced a recent publication, The Art of the Emirates, profiling some of the leading pioneers in this sector. The book offers a glimpse into the UAE visual arts sector through the voices of some of the many individuals who have helped shape it. “Ever since the creation of the UAE in 1971, visual artists have been engaging in and reflecting on society. Through their thoughts, opinions and observations they have given us fresh ways of looking at the world around us”, said Ms. Ball-Lechgar. “Over 40 years later, national visual arts practice is gaining credibility and recognition alongside the very visible movers and shakers of the international art market – the art fairs, art galleries and auction houses – who have established themselves in the UAE over the last 10 years,” she added.
Mr. Kanoo noted the particularly interesting time that the UAE art scene is going through with the national artists of the UAE stepping into the spotlight. “Artists in the UAE never really had artistic education before but are receiving now with the support of ADMAF and others.”
“Now is the time that the creativity and innovation of this country is being captured and conveyed by its greatest ambassadors – its cultural practitioners,” he added.
Through its careful examination of the forces shaping the evolution of Gulf societies and the new generation of emerging leaders, AGSIW facilitates a richer understanding of the role the countries in this key geostrategic region can be expected to play in the 21st century.