When artists sit together to achieve a goal, dreams turn into reality. And this time around, UAE-based artists have joined hands to create a better world, with the realisation and understanding that no effort is tiny and arts can make a huge difference in spreading awareness. The project titled SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Through Arts is currently being exhibited at the UN Hub, Expo 2020 Dubai, and will be on until the end of the Expo. We learn more about the goals and how did it all come along.

The Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. SDGs Through Arts kicked off during the initial days of the pandemic uncertainty when artist-activist and curator Zaahirah Muthy and Dr Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UAE and Deputy Commissioner General for the UN at Expo 2020 engaged in a conversation about what can be done to support and help the creative industry. “We brainstormed over phone calls and Zoom meetings and the idea to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was born. We both felt connected to the theme and from there on swiftly moved forward on the project,” said Muthy, who is also the founder of ZeeArts, a global art incubator nestled in Dubai with a mission to connect creatives of disparate disciplines through our line-up of artistic initiatives and projects.

The UN-UAE strongly advocate the SDGs and Dr Dena Assaf is a great ambassador and a role model for spreading this message. Both Assaf and Muthy believe that art can be a vehicle for social change. “We had the fortune of having Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; Amina J. Mohammed, the deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, and many other eminent personalities and diplomats visit the exhibition on the UN Day,” said Muthy.

The pilot project was launched with 20 artists (instead of 17) and each artist was asked to choose a goal. They researched and embraced the selected goal, with one of them choosing to paint the UN logo, whilst another painting the SDG logo. Muthy herself painted for 17 days on the same canvas and brought alive 17 SDG goals. “I am grateful to Dr Dena Assaf who took this step to provide artists with global exposure. If more people, especially private companies, come forward to support the goals via arts, we can make a huge difference,” added Muthy.

Drop by at the UN Hub, Expo 2020, to view this ongoing exhibition; following which all the artwork will become part of UN-UAE’s private art collection


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