Dubai: While famous landmarks across the UAE — from Burj Khalifa to Burj Al Arab, Emirates Palace, House of Wisdom, National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, and more — have lit up in red, a Filipino artist has created a massive sand art to celebrate the historic arrival of Hope Probe on Mars on Tuesday (February 9).
Using only a garden rake, Nathaniel Alapide, 43, turned the beachfront of Rixos Premium Dubai JBR as his canvas to create a 30x40-metre sand art. He sketched Hope Probe with its outstretched solar panels orbiting Mars and utilised the beach umbrellas and burgundy-coloured tables to accentuate the artwork with miniature satellites. He also used the sunloungers to spell out in massive letters the word ‘Hope’.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Alapide said: “It took me three hours — I started at 3am and finished by around 6am — to create the entire drawing of Hope Probe and planet Mars etched on the sand. I did it to celebrate with the UAE Hope Probe’s mission reaching Mars orbit.”
“I used a garden rake to draw on the sand while the word Hope was created using the sunbeds. The beach umbrellas were also opened to resemble several mini-satellites. I like using materials found around me and make them part of my art. I like creating a sustainable way of producing artworks, whether I’m creating something in the middle of the desert or on the beach and even at empty spaces in the city,” he added.
From Dubai sands to Mars atmosphere
Creating the artwork, Alapide continued, is his way of congratulating the men and women behind the Emirates Mars Mission and also for thanking the UAE that has been his home for almost two decades. “Imagine a small and young country like the UAE, which is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, has joined the elite powerhouse list of countries that have sent spacecraft to the Red Planet. I offer my artwork as a humble tribute from the Dubai sands to the Martian atmosphere,” he underscored.
He added: “It is very rewarding to document Hope Probe’s mission on the sand. It is also good to note, according to scientists, that there are 10 times more stars in the night sky than grains of sand in deserts and beaches across the world — this is my analogy in saying that accomplishing great things is countless The UAE is making true its vision of doing the impossible as possible.”
“Hope Probe will inspire the young and future generations to be creative and determined to chase their dreams and this is a proud moment not only for the UAE but for the entire Arab world,” he continued.
Big fan of UAE Space Programme
It was actually not the first time that Alapide, a self-confessed big fan of the UAE Space Programme, has made Space-inspired artworks. Back in July last year, he also created a 15x30-metre sand mural at Rixos Premium Dubai JBR before Hope Probe was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre (TNSC). He quipped: “I would like to believe my sand art sent sunny good vibes from Jumeirah Beach to the Japanese island launch site.” Hope Probe’s launch was scrubbed twice because of the inclement weather in Tanegashima, Japan before it finally took off in the early hours of July 20, 2020.
In 2019, Alapide also created a 4x6-metre artwork resembling Hazzaa AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut, before his trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The artwork showed Hazzaa wearing a Sokol spacesuit and flashing the three-finger salute, popularised by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, symbolising win, love and victory.
Alapide told Gulf News he too had once dreamt of becoming an astronaut. “When I was a kid, I would climb up to the roof of our house on a full-moon night and dream of becoming an astronaut,” he said, adding: “I took a different turn and veered towards arts. Now, I’m a visual artist who do portraits of astronauts and spaceships on the sand. I will continue to use my talent to show my support for the UAE as it goes onwards to Mars and beyond.”