With the aim of engaging for social impact, IWS Arabia (International Watercolor Society Arabia), during the UAE’s 51st National Day celebrations, produced and presented a first-of-its-kind integrated sustainable art exhibition. The event titled Spirit of UAE kicked off early (Nov. 24 – 27) with the collaboration of artists, who put their skills together to create artwork well in time for the National Day festivities.
Noted Emirati and expat artists, representatives from the world of People of Determination (POD) and corporate art enthusiasts, were among those who came together to create and promote Sustainability through Art. The IWS initiative provided the platform for the art and larger community to closely interact with Masters and encouraged artists to create, appreciate and promote Sustainable Art, making watercolour the preferred medium of choice across the UAE.
The workshops and panel discussions that accompanied the event were held at the University of Dubai, Canadian University Dubai and were concluded at DIFC Gate Avenue. Besides the 150 expats who participated, the occasion witnessed over 50 Emirati artists who came together to showcase their artworks. People Of Determination actively engaged themselves in sessions where they could improve their art skills from Masters and also take home their masterpieces.
In addition, over 30 change makers across the UAE were recognised for their work for sustainable development. 16-year-old Rashika Rathore from Sobha Hartland was awarded the Young Change Maker Award for her contribution towards energising the youth across Jammu and Kashmir, India, and for her efforts in bridging the rural to global gap in the education sector.
Noted artists who were present included Abdul Qader Al Rais, Khalil Abdulwahid, Faisal Abdul Qader Bastaki, Ahmed Rukni, Sumaya Al Rais; art supporters included Aqil Al Najjar, Aarefa Al Falahi, BOD, RAK Chamber of Commerce, Murina Yousuf Alblooshi, GM – Al Matiya Group, Dr. Mubeena Iqbal - Amity University, Haya Aseer – Arab Youth Centre and Yasser Al Gergawi, Director General - Sandooq Al Watan. Al Gergawi said that “the Spirit of UAE is a true factor that showcases the rich Emirati talent and culture that prevails. Sustainability through Art indicates these dimensions.
Dr Eesa Bastaki, President — University of Dubai, noted that “art is creativity that inspires innovation and shapes today’s world. Most of the advanced technologies of today were first created by artists in the past either through movies, drawings, paintings, or sculptures; hence they have now become a reality.” He added that “for the sustainability of a product, we should not only focus on innovation, engineering, technology and usefulness, but also on aesthetics, so that it can always be in demand.
Through many years, engineering designs based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) needed a seller for the designs; so STEAM was introduced. “Here A in STEAM stands for Art, which focuses on the aesthetics of the products designed ... This is where Art comes into being in engineering design.” Mrinmay Sebastian, President – IWS Arabia, said that “Sustainability through Art is our way to maintain a re-generative existence of all art forms.
It’s time we educate our youth on what truly is good for the environment and ensure we create platforms for growth and sustenance.” Panel discussions on diverse areas of sustainability included Arts and Culture: Drivers and Enablers of Sustainable Development, at the University of Dubai. Day Two witnessed noted personalities discussing Transforming Mindsets for a more Inclusive and Sustainable Culture.
Day Three was all about Imagining and Building the Future We Want — Leadership Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities; Day Four concluded with a discussion on Driving Partnerships and Collaborations for more Sustainable and Inclusive Communities. Industry thought leaders Hanane Benkhallouk, Sameera Fernandes — Century Financial, Noha Hefny, People of Impact, Charul Jaitley from the Matiti Group, Kirsten Westholter – Predixa, Mazen Kanaan – House of Pops, Hanane Ellaiti from the Canadian University Dubai, Eleni Kitra of the PeopleFirst Group, Nadia Ibrahim – UN Global Compact and Farnek, Abeer Almehairbi - Tally&Co, Mai El-Kinawi – True North Consulting, Selina Bieber - GoDaddy, Matteo Boffa and Elena Primikiri – VFS Global, participated in various panels across the four days.
The initiative also partnered with the UN PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education), the academic initiative of United Nations Global Compact, who contributed to the organisation of the event as a part of MENA Chapter. University of Dubai and Canadian University in Dubai were academic partners. The International Watercolor Society is an international art community with a global presence in more than 90 countries. With over 10 years of active promotion of the genre of watercolour globally, a recurring theme of the Society is peace, harmony, love and understanding.
The Society holds up to seven national exhibitions, ten international festivals, over 100 watercolour sessions, 50 open air sessions, 19 art competitions and 40 art exhibitions every year. This is in addition to one international festival in the UAE since its inception in 2012. The 1st International Watercolor Festival in the Emirates took place in 2018 when 50 countries participated.Source: