Dubai, UAE: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), in collaboration with Art Dubai, unveiled the ‘Union of the Artists’ sculpture, a large-scale installation under the Dubai Public Art initiative, designed to turn the emirate into an extensive, welcoming canvas for global art. This innovative venture, unveiled in one of Dubai’s most beautiful public gardens in Al Hudaiba, overlooking the Etihad Museum and Union House, promises to deliver remarkable artistic encounters, elevating visual culture, nurturing innovation, and enriching the region's vibrant cultural and artistic landscape, all while invigorating Dubai's creative economy. This aligns with Dubai’s cultural vision to cement the emirate’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.

The ‘Union of the Artists’ installation delves into the relationship between tension and balance and recurring elements in the works of these artists, who have ingeniously crafted a visually captivating artistic sculpture, where seven pillars symbolise the united spirit that binds the people of the UAE. These pillars represent themes like teamwork, cooperation, equality, solidarity, and cohesion.

The artists drew inspiration from the construction of the traditional ‘Areesh,’ reflecting collective effort, collaboration, and cohesion, much like the UAE’s society, symbolised by the seamless integration of palm branches and ropes, signifying the unity and mutual support woven into the intricate fabric of our society.

The ‘Union of the Artists’ installation carries the distinctive marks of five Emirati artists: Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, a pioneering experimental artist; Shaikha Al Mazrou, visual arts professor at New York University Abu Dhabi; Asma Belhamar, assistant professor at the College of Arts and Creative Industries at Zayed University; Khaled Albanna, who employs collage techniques to explore topics related to the history of the UAE and its rapid transformation; and Afra Al Dhaheri, who draws inspiration from her upbringing in Abu Dhabi. The five creative artists were selected after surpassing more than 250 artists invited through the open call launched by Dubai Culture and Art Dubai in January last year. They collaborated to produce a single installation that blends their creative ideas and artistic visions, allowing them to employ their various artistic practices while conveying the concept of unity and cooperation among them.

Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture, affirmed that Dubai Public Art mirrors Dubai’s identity and its thriving art scene, reinforcing its cultural significance, saying: “This strategy also bolsters the cultural and creative industries, contributes to the growth of cultural tourism in Dubai. Dubai Public Art also highlights Dubai’s originality and ambitious visions, and expresses its cultural and creative environment, which is in line with our sectoral priorities aimed at embodying our cultural responsibility, enhancing the emirate’s global positioning, and supporting the growth of its creative economy; this reflects keenness to empower creatives, artists and talents and enable them to participate in enriching the cultural movement. At Dubai Culture, we are dedicated to empowering creatives and collaborating with various institutions and stakeholders to transform Dubai’s public spaces into an open art museum, encompassing various art forms like sculptures, paintings, murals, and installations, fostering interaction between artists and the public. It also enhances art accessibility and cultivates a sustainable creative environment.”

Badri praised the installation’s concept, adding: “The creative cooperation between the five artists resulted in embodying the spirit of the local community by highlighting its authentic values and heritage. The artists succeeded in expressing the essence of the Union in a contemporary artistic language that reflects the quality of the artistic visions and ideas of local talent.” 

The quintet confirmed that they joined forces to celebrate their diverse artistic practices and combine their unique experiences and expertise into a single installation, with a shared goal to express their individual visions and viewpoints. They stressed that they sought to emphasise the importance of collaboration within the creative community, harnessing the power of art, interconnectedness, and unity to showcase their collective spirit, artistic language, and aesthetic visions, concluding: “Our ultimate aim was to craft an engaging artistic installation that would spark the community's imagination inspired by the unity of the seven emirates”.