The winner of the Mubadala Tennis World Championship on Saturday will hold up a glass trophy designed by Alya Al Za'abi, a student from Zayed University (ZU).
Alya recently won the trophy design competition at ZU, hosted by glass art installation designer and manufacturer, Lasvit. Her art creation, inspired by the traditional Emirati ‘thorn bracelet', will be beamed into over 120 million homes worldwide, showcasing Emirati talent globally.
"This trophy is going to be held up by a world-renowned tennis player, which makes me very proud," said Alya. "As a designer, this means I will reach people across the world as an Emirati artist, which will help spread my country's name across the world too."
The trophy design competition was hosted at the university by the Czech company as a means of connecting with the local community.
"As the sponsors of the trophy of an event being held in the UAE, we wanted to connect and present ourselves to the UAE," said Filip Simek, area manager of Lasvit. "We thought this competition would be a good opportunity to support talented local designers."
Worth its weight in gold
The Mubadala World Tennis Championship will take place at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi from Thursday to Saturday.
The trophy is made of hand-blown Bohemian crystal glass and is more than 30 centimetres in diameter. Last year's winning trophy, which was awarded to Rafael Nadal, weighed 15 kilograms, while runner-up Roger Federer hoisted a seven-kilogram glass piece. A design like Alya's can take more than two weeks to construct at a cost of up to $3,000 (Dh11,017).
"Crystal glass is a combination of different materials but mainly sand," said Simek. "The ingredients have to be mixed at certain ratios for clarity and melted together with some chemicals to achieve the desired colour."
Alya's trophy is a golden-yellow colour to represent the pure gold traditional ‘thorn bracelet', which is considered to be an important aspect of Emirati clothing, as it is worn by women on special occasions.
The winning trophy was unveiled by the world's current number one, Novak Djokovic, in Abu Dhabi recently.
A symbol of joy
"It would be nice if Djokovic wins because his career progression has inspired me," said Alya. "He showed me that if you work hard and don't give up, you can get what you want."
Alya is in fact a recent graduate from the college of Art and Design at ZU with a concentration in interior design. It took her three weeks to devise the concept of the trophy from the traditional Emirati ‘thorn bracelet'.
"This bracelet is a symbol of happiness because Emirati women wear it on different celebratory occasions," said Alya. "I chose the bracelet as my inspiration for the design of the trophy because wearing it and holding a trophy evoke the same feelings of happiness."
Alya's entry was chosen from among 16 other designs and created by glass-blowing artisans in the Czech factory.
"We are really happy with the design. It is very beautiful, and in terms of glass-blowing, it's a masterpiece," said Simek.
"We received many entries, so it was not an easy decision, but Alya's design was the most artistic."
Lasvit, the sponsor of the 2011 Mubadala Tennis Championship trophy, is a manufacturer of glass art installations made from bohemian crystal hand-blown glass.
Filip Simek, area manager of Lasvit, said glass-blowing is a very delicate process with all designs initially derived from a standard bubble shape.
"You can use gravity to melt down the bubble into organic shapes, which are always good," he said. "What looks nice is to make structures on a base glass design, because it doesn't make sense to try and achieve geometric shapes."