Ever wonder what kind of wisdom our ancestors had to pass on to us? Believe it or not, today's generation has much to learn from them.
An exhibition at Dubai Women's College caused Applied Communication students to unearth interesting stories from the Emirati past and discover traditional aspects of UAE society. What these young explorers found was that lessons of the past are far from transient as they continue to influence the lives of all UAE nationals today.
The journey began with visits to the Dubai Museum, the Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Culture and Understanding and the Heritage Village where students interacted with experts and the elderly, wise in their knowledge of Emirati heritage.
The students listened to their stories, lessons and insights; realising there was much to learn from them. However, the students had to face a challenge - transforming the words and essence of the stories into works of art.
The students were eager to get started but feared that their artwork would not measure up to the true meaning these stories conveyed.
Taking the step
The girls overcame their fears and began working on what would soon be beautiful representations of Emirati heritage. Each girl took one story and depicted it through different artistic channels that included sketches, graphics design, video and photography. What finally came out was a surprise.
"The stories on their own were inspiring enough to get us going," said Noora Al Balooshi. "They carried with them so much value, so much integrity — it gave us the motivation to put out the best we had."
Even the students'
instructors were impressed by the quality of work the girls brought out, saying the art "blew them away". The end result of the project had a dynamic mix of still and moving visuals.
"For many of these girls it is their first attempt at professional work," said Margo Tummel, graphic design faculty at DWC. "I was amazed by the creativity of the students and their abilities to tell stories in artistic ways."
In a short span of time, the students were able to develop their artistic and technical skills.
"We learned how to use video and audio equipment as well as editing software like Final Cut Pro," said Hamda Al Bastaki. "It was tough at the beginning, but now we're pros just because of this exhibition."
When the girls were asked what the purpose of art is, they all gave the same answer: "To send messages." And they asserted that art could convey all sorts of messages and mustn't be restricted to a single type of thought or subject.
"Art can be used as the expression of all of life's encounters," said Al Balooshi.
"It can draw attention to important matters or simply reflect life's beauty."
The girls said the medium is perhaps the best way to convey a message because of its powerful visual impact.
Hamda Anwahi said: "If you're an artist and know the right way to attract people's eyes, you can get your message across effectively.
Look at the TV ads, the posters in malls, the billboards we come across everyday.
We may not know it, but each one either consciously or subconsciously, grabs our attention and sends a message."
Leaving an impression
At the exhibition, parents, families and instructors looked with awe as they filed past the artwork. Each girl stood proudly next to her stand.
"Women in the media are slowly gaining momentum," said Shammi Sammono, media production faculty from DWC. "This exhibition is a chance to bring their families and get them invested in their children's work."
NAME: Hamda Anwahi
MAJOR: Applied communications student, Dubai Women's College
Work: Um Al Dwais
The story behind it: Um Al Dwais is a folktale about a beautiful female genie who can read minds. Her aim is to rid the world of evil men; she uses her beauty to lure them to a remote location, where they are in for a shock.
Moral of the story: "I'm trying to portray how in the old days people were more afraid of doing something wrong," said Anwahi. "Now these values are slowly fading. Some people don't think about the consequences of their actions."
NAME: Eman Al Owais
MAJOR:Applied communications student, DWC
Work: The Taste of Death
The story behind it: This is a story of three brothers who go to attend a funeral. To find out how it feels to be dead, they decide that one of them should be buried in a grave.
The youngest brother is chosen as the victim and his brothers bury him. When they dig him out, the young boy tries to impress his older brothers by claiming he saw beasts and demons.
Al Owais got the inspiration for her stories from her uncle. "This is a true story my uncle told me," she said.
Moral of the story: "Always watch your children.
You never know what kind of trouble they could get into. If the older brothers hadn't dug out their younger brother he could've died," Al Owais said.
NAME: Hamda Al Bastaki
MAJOR: Applied communications student, DWC
Work: Walking Away
The story behind it: Al Bastaki uses a combination of graphic design, photography, collages and lino print to tell the story of a boy who disobeys his father's wishes and travels abroad to run a business in Africa.
The job proves successful and earns him plenty of money. One day he decides he wants to go back home, and gives all his money to a judge for safe keeping.
The judge gives him a receipt in exchange. When the boy returns from his journey, he asks the judge for his money. The latter claims he doesn't have it and that the receipt the boy has is a fraud. The boy is, therefore, left with no money and no family to return to.
Moral of the story: "Never disobey your elders," Al Bastaki said. "They have the wisdom and the experience to foresee what will happen."