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A child working on a kurub Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has launched a large-scale programme to get people of determination into the world of mainstream art.

Joint venture

A joint venture between Goals UAE, Umm Al Emarat Park and Emirati artist Azza Al Qubaisi, the programme is called ‘E11 Art UAE’ and features workshops focused on special needs people. The unique event will be held at Umm Al Emarat Park and various special needs centres across the capital over eight weeks.

The programme will culminate with a two-day festival at the park on March 16-17, in which artworks created by people of determination will be showcased alongside the works of mainstream artists.

“The festival will be the first ever Middle East inclusive, curated art exhibition including artists of determination and their mainstream peers,” said Khawla Barley, founder of Goals UAE, a non-profit organisation which offers extracurricular activities to autistic children.

Khawla said the programme is named E11 after the 558.4 km long highway which stretches from Al-Silah Abu Dhabi and ends in Ras Al Khaimah.

Over 2,000 community members will take part in the various workshops where they will create individual art from pieces of kurub (lower end of the date palm). These will be woven together to form a mega artwork to portray the essence of inclusion.

Special sculpture

As part of the event, Emirati artist Azza Al Qubaisi will collaborate with people of determination to make a special sculpture which will become a permanent fixture in Umm Al Emarat Park. Working with special needs people is not new to Azza. Last year, she joined hands with over 350 autistic people to create a series of canvases for her hugely succesful Picture This Exhibition.

“This is a good platform to expand on the efforts of 2017. E11 enables me to share my experience with people of determination and bridge the gap between them and the wider community, through the unifying medium of art,” she said.

Abdessalem Khabir, manager of Umm Al Emarat Park, said he was optimistic that the programme will transform the lives of people with determination and help them integrate into the mainstream.

“It is extremely important to create platforms where they can express themselves freely,” he said, adding that they are expecting over 5,000 people at the festival.

Park entry: Free for all people of determination plus a caregiver. Additional guests will have to pay the entry fee of Dh5.

Schedule of activities at Umm Al Emarat park:

Public workshops: February 2 & 4, February 9 & 11

E11 Art Exhibition and Festival: March 16-17

The writer is an Abu Dhabi-based freelance journalist