Dubai: Published in the year of the 50th anniversary of the confederation of the UAE, 50U tells the story of the seven emirates in 50 portraits of people, plants and places. The book, which was officially launched by Noura Bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, at a suhour event in Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, is dedicated to the esteemed legacy of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The book is the brainchild of local UAE businessman Yasser Bin Khediya. Together with his daughters Roadha and Khawla, and Dutch graphic designer and specialist bookmaker Irma Boom, they have created a publication that celebrates the UAE’s extraordinary journey to become a global metropolitan destination.
The book paints an intimate picture of life in the emirates through the memories, hopes and ambitions of its inhabitants. Factual accounts of the UAE’s history are told alongside human stories that are the result of extensive interviews with the young nation’s residents and visitors. Interviewees include an astronaut, a female racing driver, a tailor, a fisherman and a former minister, among others. The Netherlands-based publishing team Archis, with a team of UAE editors led by Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib, selected people from all walks of life to give a first-hand impression of what it has been like to grow up or settle down in the region.
“What started as a conversation amongst family and friends between Dubai and Amsterdam, led us here to the launch of a collection of tales. Our hope for the book is that it honours our past, documents our present and is used in the future as a tool for cultural exchange. Working across borders, we have created something that demonstrates the UAE’s principles of tolerance and our country’s rich diverse community. The result is a beautiful book with immaculate design and creativity, something that is also an important part of the fabric of present-day UAE. We are so delighted to now be able to share 50U with everyone, everywhere,” said Yasser bin Khediya.
Every interviewee was invited to bring an object that represents their relationship to the UAE, and these objects feature in the narrative of the book. Yasser’s vision was to put a spotlight on the individual human stories behind the success and growth of the UAE. The focus on the contribution from individuals to both the book and to the UAE is demonstrated in the title of the book ‘U’, a play on the word ‘you’ and a celebration of the ‘United’ emirates. The design of the book’s cover allows the reader to see their own reflection and to possibly identify themselves as part of the UAE story.
The book also features an extensive photo essay by Charlie Koolhaas, which documents the ‘present’ of the UAE, and ‘where the people are’. Readers can also enjoy a study of the varied UAE plant life and species showing the rich flora that can be found in the desert. 50U is an incredible addition to books available on the history and development of the UAE. Bringing together the collective experience of citizens and residents, the book skilfully encapsulates the essence of this young and dynamic nation. It’s an inspiring journey brought alive with engaging visuals,” said Hala Badri, Director General, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.
Commenting on the book, Reinier de Graaf, partner at OMA, said: “Real stories from real people. A compelling X-ray of the United Arab Emirates as they are, 50-years young, forever evolving, forever defying stereotypes — like nowhere else, yet remarkably familiar.”
50U was generously supported by DP World and A.R.M. Holding.