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5 Upcoming Cultural Events Worth Clearing Your Calendar For

Our calendar for the next two months is packed with events dotted across the region. Read on to discover Vogue Arabia’s top five highlights worth clearing your schedule for.

Abdulqader Al Rais Retrospective
September 25 to October 21

Courtesy of Dubai Culture.

He is considered one of the pioneering contemporary Arab artists in the Gulf, and now Abdulqader Al Rais is being honored with his very first international retrospective. The exhibition opened in the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris on September 25 and will run until October 21. Organized by Dubai Arts and Culture Authority (Dubai Culture) and hosted in the French capital as part of the French-Emirati Cultural Dialogue programme for 2018, the retrospective features 50 of the celebrated Emirati artist’s works, including Al Intithar (The Wait), an oil-on-wood painting that was conceived five decades ago. The exhibition is divided into three sections in an effort to guide the audience on a journey through the painter’s humble beginnings in Kuwait, career-making work, and the paintings produced in the last decade.

Al Rais was born in 1951 in the UAE, before moving to Kuwait at the age of nine to live with his sister after his father passed away. Renowned for being the first Emirati to pursue art professionally, the artist picked up the paintbrush at the age of 14, and began experimenting with abstract forms and Arabic calligraphy, which would go on to define his work. Upon returning to the Emirates, Al Rais obtained a degree in Sharia Law at Al Ain’s United Arab Emirates University, before officially embarking on his career as an artist.

“Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family” Exhibition
October 7 to 11

A diamond pendant, supporting a natural pearl of exceptional size (26 mm x 18 mm) that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France and will be auctioned in the ‘Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family’ sale at Sotheby’s Dubai. Courtesy of Sothebys

From October 7 to 11, Sotheby’s will host its “Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family” exhibition in Dubai, before it makes its way to Geneva for the biggest jewelry auction of the year. The three-day event will showcase royal jewelry — including diamond pendants, pearl necklaces, and sapphire brooches — plucked from the collections of perhaps one of Europe’s most famous royal dynasties. Descended from Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperors, and from Pope Paul III, the Bourbon-Parma family’s lineage includes kings of France and Spain, emperors of Austria, and the dukes of Parma. What’s more: rare, never-before-seen jewels once owned by the former Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, who was executed in 1793, will also be on display.

“It is one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to appear on the market and each and every jewel is absolutely imbued with history,” says Daniela Mascetti, deputy chairman, Sotheby’s Jewellery Europe and senior international specialist in a statement. “Never before seen in public, this extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years.”

The pieces will be on exhibition at Dubai’s Gate Village Building 3 at DIFC from October 7 to 11 before making their way to Geneva for the auction on November 12.

Saudi Fashion Week
October 21 to 25

Models backstage ahead of the Arwa al Banawi show at Fashion Forward October 2017 held at the Dubai Design District on October 26, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In a year when a raft of firsts are sweeping Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom now has another one to add to the list. The first Saudi Fashion Week will be held at the end of the month, HH Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud announced at a press conference in Riyadh durin Fashion Month. The sartorial showcase will take over Al Faisaliah Hotel and Al Faisaliah Tower in the Kingdom’s capital between October 21 and 25, and will welcome both Arab and international labels to the catwalk.

The first edition of the Fashion Week will welcome designers including Arwa al Banawi, Yanina Couture, Yahya Al Bishri, Lama Askari, Dar Walid Attallah, and Robert Abi Nader, who will showcase their Spring 2019 collections. “I waited 25 years for something like this to happen in my country, and I’m extremely happy to be part of it,” Al Bishri told The event will also host a showcase for six young emerging designers from Saudi, the names of whom will be revealed nearer the time.

Launch of Art Jameel
November 11

Jameel Arts Centre, Courtyard, Serie Architects.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, is scanning her office. Her eyes graze over a set of drawings by Hazem El Mestikawy from the Art Jameel Collection on her wall, before landing on a pile of documents, books, and catalogues scattered over her desk. “The team is constantly introducing me to the latest digital organization, but I’m always overwhelmed by paper,” she smiles. Along with her team of 20, mostly UAE nationals, Carver is in the final stages of gearing up for the launch on November 11 of the Jameel Arts Center, on the eve of Dubai Design Week. A group of colleagues is currently trying to mount a slew of fantastical seven-meter electric trees onto the building’s roof terrace – all to help artists Aseel AlYaqoub and Alia Farid build their installation of a botanic garden with a twist. “We’ve got cranes, forklifts, and cherry-pickers, but it might be a case of all hands on deck, up the stairs…” she adds with a chuckle. She anticipates the launch to be “one of those real ‘Dubai moments,’ where the emirate shifts gear and enters another era of creativity.”

Originally printed in the October 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.

The new institution, a 10 000sqm space designed as a series of bound white boxes surrounding intimate courtyards located at the tip of the culture village, will feature 10 gallery spaces over three floors and the GCC’s first open access arts library and resource center, seven desert gardens, a studio, events spaces, a restaurant, and a shop. Opening exhibitions will include Crude curated by Murtaza Vali, featuring works focusing on the history of oil in the Middle East – a world first. Solo shows will spotlight works by Saudi’s best-known female artist, Maha Malluh; the late Pakistani artist and women’s rights activist Lala Rukh; Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, who has created immersive, web-like structures; and Mounira Al Solh, a Lebanese artist whose work deals with the effects of political events on personal lives. Installations will spotlight artists Vikram Divecha, Lara Favaretto, Shaikha Al Mazrou, and AlYaqoub and Farid, whose botanical garden explores our relationship with the natural and nocturnal worlds. The Jameel Arts Centre will also operate as a creative incubator. “Education, institution-building, and a strong arts-oriented media” are what Carver believes will build a solid contemporary arts legacy in the emirate and wider region.

Dubai Design Week
November 12 to 17

“Prologue” Swarovski Installation. Courtesy of Dubai Design Week

It is regarded as the region’s largest creative festival, and this November sees the return of the fourth annual Dubai Design Week. The hugely anticipated six-day festival has been credited as establishing Dubai as the design capital of the Middle East. Representing and nurturing the region’s design talent, the initiative also aims to inspire and encourage creativity. The 2018 edition will host over 120 companies and 230 events focusing on disciplines such as architecture, product and furniture design, interior and graphic design, as well as culture and art. The extensive exhibitions, educational workshops, speeches, public performances, and awards provide an innovative hub for design enthusiasts, and contribute to the greater discussion of what design means for the region and the world.

This year will also see the launch of Dubai Design Week’s first app, which will allow visitors to create personalized on-the-go schedules, with notifications of must-see launches and events. Discussing the upcoming fourth edition, d3’s chief executive officer, Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, said: “For 2018, we are proud to add d3’s UAE Design Stories exhibition to the programme and highlight several projects under d3’s Design for Good initiative which supports and promotes social change within the UAE. It’s always important for us to continue to support the growth of the design industry as a whole and it is events like this that celebrate design from across the region which truly cement Dubai, and d3, as a design destination.”

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