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A Dedicated Platform at the Expo 2020 Will Showcase Traditional Emirati Crafts

Women's Handicraft Centre, Abu Dhabi, Crafting, Traditional Skills

An artisan at the Women’s Handicraft Centre in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by Rohit Sabu for Vogue Arabia

Expo 2020 Dubai has launched a new design platform, showcasing more than 40 local and international designers. Named Menasa (platform in Arabic) – Emirati Design Platform, it will showcase seven design collaborations between local and international designers and artists, under the title Craft Stories. The platform will also exhibit the works of 24 designers and organizations from all over the country under the title Designer of the Week.

According to a statement, Craft Stories is “a dialogue between local and international designers and artisans who were invited to explore and represent Emirati crafts and culture in a new way.” It aims to be an intersection of the rich heritage of Emirati artistry, with novel materials and techniques with a new creative lens.

The first Craft Story to debut on the platform is 8,000 Waves: The Pearl Diving Story, created by Emirati design studio Asateer, in collaboration with Todomuta, a Spanish design studio. Asateer was founded by Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the grandson of a pearl diver, and specializes in creations made from mother of pearl and raw materials. The designs, crafted in metal and inlaid with mother-of-pearl cut sourced from locally farmed oyster shells in Ras Al Khaimah, tell the nation’s history of pearl diving that spans 8,000 years. It captures the reflections in the sea, the waves of the Arabian Gulf, the glint of the sun and light, and includes a feature wall sculpture as well as limited-edition incense burners and candle holders.

Photo: WAM

Expo 2020 visitors will also be able to explore, experience, and learn about Emirati crafts and traditions, from a present-day point of view. Alongside the designs, a collection of documentaries shot around the UAE will be available to visitors and would further delve into traditional crafts such as safeefa (palm frond weaving), sadu (bedouin weaving), pearl diving, coffee making, gargour making (wire-crafted fish traps) and the lives of the artisans.

Samer Yamani, curator for Menasa said, “Crafts have a special, innate power to communicate a local culture, a nation, and its identity. Giving this power a poetic approach, we used Emirati crafts as a communication tool and merged it with design, new technologies, and materials to convey more local stories and to intensify the experience for our visitors through our exclusive design collections.”

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