Camels, falcons and henna — when it comes to exploring Dubai, many of the players at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship have seen it all, many times over. 2013’s tournament brings with it a chance to explore a different side of the region through the contemporary Middle Eastern art that’s at the heart of the hotel they are staying at, the new Jumeirah Creekside.
French Open champ Ana Ivanovic was one of the first top players to get a tour of the works, guided on Saturday by the hotel’s dedicated arts and culture programme manager Yasmeen Abu Amer.
Ivanovic, a Dubai Duty Free brand ambassador, is one of several female players who’ll be shooting a tourism film about Dubai around town this week. The player, currently ranked 13th in the world, started the series with a camera crew following her and Yasmeen around the works of art installed all over the hotel, which was built with art in mind and has 482 contemporary pieces in its collection.
“Around 90 per cent of the art was commissioned for the hotel,” said Yasmeen, pointing out pieces such as a gigantic red display called Flying Carpet, by Halim Al Karim, displayed in the cavernous lobby. The style is “contemporary Middle Eastern,” she added. “All the artists have Middle Eastern roots, but don’t necessarily live in the region. They are all renowned artists who are part of museum collections worldwide — it’s all museum quality. It’s like staying in an art gallery with rooms.”
Ivanovic proved herself a seasoned presenter as well as player as the crew filmed her reeling off her script, no teleprompter needed.
“They feed me the script, line by line,” she told me with a smile as she waited for a scene to be set up on a balcony overlooking the lobby. “But it’s not that hard.”
Looking bright and breezy in a blue maxi dress she described as “very easygoing and perfect for this weather” (she picked it up at Intermix in Miami), she admitted that she found the shoots tiring and would be doing nothing more exciting than resting in her room for the evening.
When it comes to art, she’s looking to make time to see more with a move to New York. “I just recently went to Milan and saw a Picasso exhibition, it was very exciting and I really enjoyed that. I am looking forward to spending more time in New York so I can visit some of the museums there. I also like some of the Van Gogh works, I like Starry Night. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to see it.”
“Working with Ana was a wonderful experience, she was very sweet and extremely patient,” said Yasmeen. “It was great to be able to tell her more about the hotel and the art collection and see her interest and positive feedback towards it.”
Ana’s pick for Oscar success?
Dubai’s tennis season falls smack bang in the middle of Hollywood’s awards season. So who do the players want to see win?
“I’ve seen Argo with Ben Affleck,” says Ivanovic. “I really hope that one gets the Oscar!”