The art festival aims to connect artwork across four locations — Manarat Al Saadiyat, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi Corniche and Abu Dhabi Breakwater. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Street performances, poetry readings on buses and at the beach and talks by Emirati artists are just some of the highlights of Abu Dhabi Art festival which kicks off on Wednesday at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Many of the street performances are part of Durub Al Tawaya, a new attraction at Abu Dhabi Art, now in its fifth year. The aim is to connect artwork across four locations — Manarat Al Saadiyat, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi Corniche and Abu Dhabi Breakwater.

These spots will also host public art displays and concerts. Emirati poetry will be recited on buses that travel between the locations.

According to the Abu Dhabi Art website: “The buses themselves become moving artworks in this way, roaming Abu Dhabi while connecting art spaces, historical locations and meeting points.”

Emirati Expressions: Realised, an exhibition showcasing newly commissioned artworks of six established Emirati artists, will be on display.

Speaking to Gulf News, Emirati artist Dr Najat Makki, who has been taking part in the event since it was set up in 2009, said: “Every year I try to present something that is innovative, that no one has seen before. This year, I will use colour both as a subject and an ornamental element in my paintings and if viewers are able to form a connection with what they see on the canvas then I will consider myself successful.”

The exhibition has also invited artists from across the UAE, including Abdul Qader Al Rais, Jalal Luqman, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi and Mattar Bin Lahej to take part in a series of talks and educational workshops, in addition to sharing their expertise on the contemporary art scene in the UAE.


“During the talks we will shed light on the history and evolution of Emirati art through the years. I believe that the UAE art scene is maturing and has finally formed an identity. Previously, people with very little artistic talent would jump on the bandwagon and call themselves Emirati artists just for a couple of minutes of fame but now this has changed,” said Luqman.

“Now people are more aware and educated about techniques and what really counts as skill. The general standard for Emirati art has become higher and emerging artists are now showcasing some impressive work,” he added.

Currently the veteran Emirati artist is working on a collection that will be displayed as a solo exhibition early next year.

A series of workshops will also be organised throughout the four-day event, including ones on etching, colour landscapes and working with mobile structures. Film screenings and book launches are also scheduled.