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A spectacle at Urban Knitting festival in Dubai

Emirati women take their art to a whole new level at UAE’s first Urban Knitting festival

  • XXXXXX: RTA bus knitted as part of the Urban Knitting started from 14th till 23rd March 2013 at Amphi Theatre Image Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • A knit in time: Alya Busamnoh, right, from Xpoze Studio with a participant at Urban KnittingImage Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • ALl Decked up: Participants at the Urban Knitting festival at Souk Madinat Jumeirah AmphitheatreImage Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • Worth a shot: Colouful knitted works adorn the abra shade at Souk Madinat Jumeirah lakeImage Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • Wonder bus: AN RTA bus is covered with knitted works as part of the Urban Knitting (March 14-23) at the Souk MImage Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • Soft touch: The railings at Souk Madinat Jumeirah Amphitheatre get a makeoverImage Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan
  • Redefining the art of knitting: Magda Sayeg, a professional knitter from USA, lends a hand to Urban Knitting, Image Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: Knitting a glove or a sweater is one thing, but to transform a landmark amphitheatre into a street art installation with knitted creations is a whole new art.

You need to see it to believe it – how a group of Emirati women in Dubai have covered Souk Madinat Jumeirah Amphitheatre and its surrounding areas, the palm trees, the railings, pier poles and posts, including the shade of the abra there with intricate designs and patterns of knitted creations.

They have even covered an RTA bus completely with their works as part of the ongoing Urban Knitting festival at Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Taking the craft of knitting and crochet beyond its functionality, these women have turned their handiwork into a vibrant art form which is clearly manifest in their creations at the festival taking place in the UAE for the first time.

So don’t be surprised if a sea of colours and creative patterns – showcasing the diversity and multicultural society of Dubai – welcomes you as you step into the amphitheatre.

And not only can you witness beautiful creations, you can also learn to knit or crochet at the workshops being conducted throughout the festival.

“We wanted to bring the art of knitting and crochet to the public, so we invited residents to send in their knitted patterns. We were surprised at the response which has been phenomenal. Within a few days we received more than 200 patterns.

“Our aim is to expose this art to the public and also to involve them, so you do not need to visit art galleries to witness it, but can be very much a part of it,” Alya Busamnoh from Xpoze Idea Factory, told XPRESS.

Xpoze Idea Factory has collaborated with more than 60 Emirati ladies and other volunteers, including the Al Khaliya Group, to demonstrate their knitting skills which have resulted in an incredible street art installation.

“We had earlier made a cover for a car at the UAE National Day besides other projects; this time we wanted to do something larger, so a bus. It took 35 of us about two months to complete it. It was a lot of effort – from ensuring that measurements were accurate to deciding the design, colours and everything, but it is very rewarding to see the final result,” said Nida Al Sabbag from the Al Khaliya Group which knitted the bus cover, which impresses not only due to its sheer size but also the intricate design including a UAE flag.

The group has been formed to encourage and empower women by showcasing different forms of art including ceramics, painting and handicrafts.

Magda Sayeg, a renowned professional knitter from the USA, who has inspired the initiative, said: “Knitting and crochet, I feel, have been undervalued and underappreciated. The entire idea is to move above functionality and create your woolens and bring life to our surroundings through this art. The work by these women has impressed me a lot as they have gone much beyond what we initially expected them to create.”

Urban Knitting Festival runs until March 23 and people of all ages can become involved with it through knitting workshops which provide the materials needed to contribute to the kaleidoscopic project.