A night time view of Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Brace yourselves for a mesmerising journey as the cityscape of Abu Dhabi is about to be transformed into a radiant canvas of light and artistry. Manar Abu Dhabi, a city-wide light art exhibition, is poised to illuminate the archipelagos and mangroves of the UAE capital from November 15, 2023, to January 30, 2024.

This extraordinary event will feature a breathtaking display of new commissions and site-specific light sculptures, projections, and immersive artworks crafted by both local and international artists.

Manar, which means “lighthouse” in Arabic, pays homage to the rich tradition of luminous celebrations that have historically illuminated the emirate’s nights.

Public art

It is a pivotal component of the Public Art Abu Dhabi initiative, unveiled earlier this year by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi). Manar promises to offer both residents and visitors an unprecedented opportunity to engage with these awe-inspiring artworks and experience the transformative power of light.

Manar Abu Dhabi 1
Image Credit: Supplied

Under the evocative theme “Grounding Light,” the inaugural edition of Manar Abu Dhabi is curated by Reem Fadda, the Director of Abu Dhabi Culture Programming, Director of the Cultural Foundation, and Artistic Director of Public Art Abu Dhabi. Collaborating as co-curator is Alia Zaal Lootah.

Together, they have designed an immersive, multi-sensory experience that celebrates the natural beauty of the emirate and invites audiences to see Abu Dhabi’s coastal areas in a new and enchanting light.

Where to go, what to see

The dazzling artworks will be prominently displayed across several key locations throughout Abu Dhabi, including Lulu, Saadiyat, Yas, Jubail, Al Samaliyah, Fahid Islands, and other coastal areas such as Corniche Road, Mina Zayed, and the Eastern Mangroves. Visitors will embark on a 2.3-kilometer art odyssey through Al Samaliyah, bear witness to a museum-inspired drone show on Saadiyat Island, and be captivated by mesmerizing displays on Lulu.

Manar Abu Dhabi
Image Credit: Supplied

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, emphasized, “Manar Abu Dhabi is more than just an art exhibition. It’s a testament to our long-standing commitment to public art and the cultural growth of our city – highlighting Abu Dhabi as an international destination of choice for culture. Our vibrant, dynamic city is the canvas, and the light art is a bridge connecting us to the city’s artistic expressions.”

Rita Aoun, DCT Abu Dhabi’s Culture Sector Executive Director, declared, “Culture is at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s identity and heritage. With Manar, we are engaging our community in a dialogue that connects the aesthetic, historical, and social values of the city. The magic of light art is its ability to transcend traditional boundaries, bringing together people from all walks of life.”

35 site-specific artworks

Featuring more than 35 site-specific artworks by artists hailing from across the globe, Manar Abu Dhabi will showcase a diverse array of mediums, including light projections, sculptures, installations, and performances. These acclaimed artists from countries such as Argentina, Belgium, France, Japan, India, Mexico, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tunisia, the UAE, the UK, and the US will captivate audiences with their creations.

Reem Fadda, Artistic Director of Public Art Abu Dhabi, explained, “Grounding Light is an experience designed to transform our perception of the world around us. Each piece will not only enhance our experience of the emirate’s beautiful water landscapes but also resonate with visitors long after the exhibition, prompting reflection on the bond that connects us to the earth beneath our feet and to each other.”

Alia Zaal Lootah, Manar Abu Dhabi Curator, added, “This immersive public art platform will further shape the creative expression of the city and inspire community engagement by offering residents and visitors the opportunity to engage and connect with art in some of Abu Dhabi’s most beautiful natural locations.”

Groundbreaking exhibition

In addition to the captivating artworks, a robust public programme featuring talks, workshops, and art performances will unfold throughout the duration of Manar Abu Dhabi.

This groundbreaking exhibition is part of Public Art Abu Dhabi’s ongoing commitment to commissioning public art for the emirate. Two other major long-term elements include the Public Art Abu Dhabi Biennial, set to launch in November 2024, and artist commissions.

Since its launch earlier this year, Public Art Abu Dhabi has continued to strengthen DCT Abu Dhabi’s efforts to enhance spaces of historical, aesthetic, architectural, social, scientific, and technological value, all while celebrating the city’s vibrant cultural legacy and looking forward to a promising future. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this extraordinary visual narrative woven by exceptionally talented artists.