NAT 191111 Sabeel water fountain-1573474828498
From right to left: Faissal El-Malak and Alia Bin Omair , Faysal Tabbarah (Architecture and other things), Marjan Fraidooni, and Antonia Carver Image Credit:

Dubai: Two UAE-based design teams have been chosen from 100 proposals and a shortlist of 20 entries for their reimagining of the sabeel traditional Emirati drinking fountain to be used at the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

‘Architecture and Other Things’ and ‘Team Faisal Al Malak and Ali Bin Omair’ were selected by seven internationally acclaimed jurors. Each team won Dh100,000 in prize money and will now have their designs turned into 53 drinking water fountains to be placed around the Expo site for the duration of the six month show next year from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.

Launched in July as part of a collaboration between Expo 2020 and Art Jameel, the Sabeel 2020 initiative looks to reconceptualise and modernise the sabeel, which reflects the UAE’s heritage of hospitality and generosity in providing relief to passers-by through free drinking water. They are a familiar sight across the UAE particulary outside villas.

The designs were selected on criteria such as the strength of concept artistically and technically, how it fits the architecture and environment of the Expo site, usability, interpretation of concept and feasibility both in cost and practicality.

Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Pavilions and Exhibitions Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Through the unifying power of water – one of our most precious resources – the innovative and creative designs will shed light on one of the most unique traditions of UAE culture. Sabeel 2020 is also a great opportunity for us to showcase UAE design talent to the world and work with the winning designers to bring their visions to life on an incredible global platform.”

Antonia Carver, Director at Art Jameel, said: “We’re thrilled and honoured to collaborate with Expo 2020 Dubai to curate Sabeel 2020, and we congratulate this set of talented UAE-based designers on their dynamic reinventions of the drinking water fountain. We also thank our stellar international jury for their time, rigour, and dedication to nurturing the UAE creative scene. Art Jameel has a particular interest in water and confluence; Sabeel 2020 is another expression of our commitment to both exploring water as the most precious resource, and to the UAE itself.”