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Illustrated with more than 80 original watercolour paintings by French artist Daniel Wegera, the bilingual French-English book Inspiration Dubai invites the reader to a pictorial and historical journey through the heart of Dubai and the UAE, from bedouin origins to the ultra modern city.

Throwing bridges between past and present, this beautiful coffee table book pays tribute to Shaikh Zayed’s vision and illustrates his famous quote: ‘A nation without a past is a nation without a present or a future’.

Striking a subtle combination of painting reproductions and modular informative text sections, it explores the most fascinating aspects of UAE culture and heritage.

Built on both a chronological and thematic approach, Inspiration Dubai is divided into three main sections — A step away from the desert, The city of merchants and Visionary Dubai — introduced by a historical overview, that follow the evolution of Dubai from the Bedouin origins to the ultra modern city.

Inside each chapter, the approach is thematic and highlights the main aspects of Dubai’s heritage and culture, in a bid to throw bridges between past and present.

These three chapters reflect the three main centres of attraction that Dubai, and more generally the UAE, offers to its visitors: The desert and related bedouin heritage, the historical centre (Dubai creek and its dhows, Shindagha, Al Fahidi area, the souks, etc and the modern development of the “new Dubai”.

Erica Toëbat, the author of the French text in the book, arrived in Dubai in October 1999. Before creating her own Communication Studio with her graphic designer husband, she worked at the French Cultural Centre in Dubai (Alliance Française) for seven years, witnessing the construction boom in the city: Dubai Marina, Palm Island, Burj Khalifa are some of the mega projects that flourished during these years.

Toëbat favours the timeless charm of the old Bastakiya area, when the muezzin begins the Salat Al Maghreb call to prayer: the sun pours down on the Creek, soaking the scenery with those warm and unique colours which are also a source of inspiration for Daniel Wegera. From their encounter was born the idea of Inspiration Dubai: they decided to combine their respective disciplines into a book that would offer a joint artistic and historical approach to the city.

Born in Paris, Wegera spent part of his youth in Algeria. Impressed by the beauty of the Mediterranean architecture and landscaping — a source of inspiration for many renowned 19th century painters (Delacroix, Corot and Chasseriau), he developed a passion for art as a self-taught painter.

During his stay in the Far East, in the nineties, he produced a number of paintings, which have been exhibited in Jakarta and Singapore.

He is particularly attracted to the Middle East traditions and has been living in the UAE since 1999. He has explored, through watercolour and oil paintings, the harmonies of colours so characteristic in the Emirates and focused on the traditional architecture, trying to depict an Orient such as imagined by the thousands of European visitors.

Priced Dh159, Inspiration Dubai is available at Kinokuniya Bookworld Dubai Mall, Culture and Co French Library (Oud Metha), Jashanmal Bookstores and Magrudy’s.