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Akbar Saheb with his oil-on-canvas which measures 18 feet X 7 feet and is entitled Past, Present and Future. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A renowned Indian artist living in Dubai has created a grand magnum opus to mark UAE’s golden anniversary. The oil-on-canvas, measuring, 18 feet X 7 feet, entitled Past, Present and Future, depicts the trail-blazing trajectory of the UAE, its heritage, current contribution and legacy for future generations.

The creator of the artwork, Akbar Abdul Ibrahim Saheb, 58, who hails from Udupi, Mangalore, in India, has been a UAE resident since 1996. Sahib, a naturally gifted artist, came here at the age of 33 as an illustrator and graphic artist in an advertising firm. Sahib told Gulf News, “I have been greatly fascinated by the tremendous progress made by UAE. The rulers have had a unique vision for the country and their humility and generosity of spirit have touched me.”

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The painting took Akbar Saheb eight months to complete. Image Credit: Supplied

Indebted to UAE

Saheb has a special reverence for the UAE. He said, “On a personal level, I feel indebted to this great country which gave me everything. After I began work here, I married; my three children were born here. I have always been highlighting the cultural, economic and political narrative of UAE through my painting,” said Sahib, who has created more than 1,000 works of art.

38 paintings of Shaikh Zayed

Significant among them are the 38 paintings on the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sahib captured the subtle nuances on the portrait of Shaikh Zayed covering the period from 1997-2004. “I was inspired by the wisdom and vision of Shaikh Zayed and bought a lot of books on him. He was a true statesman,” explained Sahib who has done a series of seven paintings on His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of UAE and several other dignitaries and Sheikhs from all seven emirates. He has also done commissioned paintings, sculptures and murals on the UAE, for corporate and business houses.

Golden Jubilee artwork

His current labour of love for UAE’s golden jubilee took Sahib nearly eight months to complete. He said, “This painting, an oil-on-canvas, is based on a new technique created by me. I have called it Depthism. It is like taking a plain wall and chipping off the plaster to create a depth through which several aspects have been featured, but they have to be discovered. It is like a treasure hunt. I created three windows on the canvas. The first one is a broken one that also has a wooden boat below it. It symbolises the time prior to the formation of UAE when times were tough. The next window, inspired by ornate Arabic architecture and textures, depicts the period of growth and the Arabian legacy of the UAE. The last window is a glass one with modern buildings such as the Burj Khalifa and other important landmarks of the UAE.”

Hidden treasures of UAE

He said, “This is a giant treasure hunt and an onlooker will have to search and find all the hidden gems. The painting is comprehensive and involves an interactive experience with the audience.”