The ‘Inspiring 49’ artists and other experts chosen to design the ‘UAE Nation Brand’ created the first 14 outlines for the logo at a workshop on Monday in Dubai.
Meeting at Dubai Design District, the 49 Emirati men and women worked in seven groups, each comprising seven members, to design a logo that highlights the elements that sets the UAE apart and shares its success story with the world.
The Inspiring 49 workshop comes in response to the invitation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who had recently launched the national project.
The project called on artists, designers, writers and others, chosen by the executive councils across the emirates, to design the logo that best represents the UAE.
After the brainstorming workshop on Monday, an executive committee will review the submissions, and the stories behind them, ultimately resulting in one UAE National Brand.
The national logo will be usable across all sectors to represent the UAE’s achievements in different fields, both at home and abroad.
Before the Inspiring 49 took their places at seven roundtables, an opening ceremony was held to address them. The ceremony was addressed by Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future; Abdullah Mohammed Al Maeena, the designer of the UAE flag; and Abdul Qader Al Rais, prominent calligrapher and artist who had held several solo exhibitions in the UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, Chez Republic, Germany and USA.
‘Represent our journey’
Shaikha Latifa Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, who attended the event, said: “This rich gathering of homegrown talents is inspiring to witness, a representation of the UAE’s creative industries working together to collectively create a unified national brand identity that will depict our story to the world and represent our journey as a nation, our achievements and our ambition.”
“It’s not easy’
In his address, Al Gergawi said: “It is not easy to summarise everything the UAE represents and stands for in just one logo or symbol... It is not easy either to represent people who were capable of achieving top ranks in giving, tolerance and openness, or sum up the story of 10 million people’s dreams, ambitions and aspirations, or express the UAE youth who went to space, and today, represent the hope of youth across the world in all fields – in just one logo.”
He added: “The people who were capable of travelling to the outer space will also be capable of innovating and designing a new, unique and exceptional identity that tells the story of our nation.”
Speaking to the press after the ceremony, Al Maeena said the logo has to be as “strong” as the UAE nation to reflect its reputation, garnered since its founding, as well as the capabilities of its people. The design, in his view, should also represent the UAE’s culture and policies.
Keeping it simple
Al Rais, when asked how such a variety of elements could be incorporated into a single logo, said it is “a difficult equation” to balance, because the design itself would have to be easily understandable at the same time. Simplicity, he added, was key.
“One of the reasons behind the project is to familiarise and attract people outside the UAE who will see the logo,” Al Rais said.
Mattar Bin Lahej, an acclaimed Emirati artist and sculptor, said the logo must also be timeless, in the sense of staying appealing and relevant down the years.
Bin Lahej, leader of the Al Nakhla group in the project, said his team was closely following the brief for the logo design, while not losing sight of “the future and the next generation”.
“UAE is the future, and the future is the UAE – this is important. And it’s also important to stay focused. When I need to create something, for example, I don’t mix or spread it – I chose a target and I follow it till the end,” Bin Lahej added.
He said work on purely visuals, such as colours or fonts, “is very easy for the artists, but conveying the depth of ideas” is the main challenge. The “multidimensional” expertise of the team members – artists, designers, authors, calligraphers, photographers, architects, engineers – would work together in finding a way.
Bin Lahej conceded that the timeframe to deliver the design was “very short” but said the excitement of “healthy competition” provided inspiration to reach the target.
“For me, as an artist, I would say this is the biggest project I’ve worked on. This is for my country, we’re proud to be here [at the workshop].”
Azza Al Qubaisi, a jewellery designer and sculptor whose pieces reflect the UAE’s identity, who is leading the Al Sedra group, said expressing “the story and feelings” in the design “is 100 per cent important”.
She said using symbols such as the sail or falcon “are very broad elements that people related to” when they think of the UAE, “but I don’t think we’re going very physical in our design”.
Al Qubaisi said “the emotional connection to the line that we’re trying to create or express in our design is much more important”.
She added that the artists have researched and learned from the successful experiences of other countries in branding themselves. “We’re not starting from zero, we’re actually starting from 1,000, and we’re so honoured to be part of this opportunity in the UAE”.
The seven teams focused on designing a logo that reflects seven key values of the UAE: Giving, openness, innovation, tolerance, credibility, humility and futuristic vision.
The Inspiring 49 came together in seven groups titled Al Sedra, Al Nakhla, Al Saqr, Al Boom, Al Ghaf, Al Barjeel and Al Dana, to brainstorm and discuss innovative designs in a day-long workshop. Teams presented 14 general concepts and outlines by the end of the workshop.