Rita Aoun Abdo, director of the Cultural Department at the Tourism Development and Investment Company, which is conducting the exhibition. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Abu Dhabi: Visitors to the "A Story of Islamic Embroidery in Nomadic and Urban Traditions Exhibition" will discover that it is unlike any exhibition they have visited.

"Like all the other exhibitions we have organised, this one is a cultural expression, but to an unusual degree. This exhibition also reveals the personal life stories… of countless women who created these embroideries as early as the 14th century using their memories and their hands," said Rita Aoun Abdo, Director of the Cultural Department for the Tourism Development and Investment Company.

In addition to the rare, intricate and well preserved embroidered pieces from Morocco, Algeria and Central Asia that are being showcased during the exhibition's four month run, there will also be a series of musical performances, workshops and lectures that are designed to provide a look into the life behind the textiles.

"This is the first time this collection is being showcased in this way… there are over 200 rare textiles on display, several of which took many years to make. But despite their rarity, we have noticed that the new generation, the new middle class, are aware of their heritage," Isabelle Denamur, ethnologist and curator of the exhibition, said.


Denamur also noted that despite increased awareness and demand for such embroidered pieces, it is quite difficult to find and acquire well-preserved examples.

"The problem lies in conserving embroidered items. Light, insects… also many items were private family pieces before they were donated or sold. But many museums now have textile divisions that are dedicated to preserving them, which is good," Denamur said.

Plans are already being drawn up for a second instalment of the exhibition, with details to be released at a later date.

"This is a part of a series. We have started working on collecting items from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and, of course, the UAE. Also, all the exhibitions that we have organised until now are a hint of what to expect from all the museums in Saadiyat's Cultural District… they will really show the connection of art in the region," Rita said.

Key details

What: A Story of Islamic Embroidery in Nomadic and Urban Traditions
When: April 7-July 28Where: Gallery 1, Emirates Palace Hotel
Timings: Daily: 10am to 10pm; Ladies only: Tuesday 10am to 4pm
Website: www.artsabudhabi.ae