This month, I met with Design Days Dubai fair director Cyril Zammit to discuss the fourth edition of the trade fair. During our meeting, it was brought to my attention just how many exhibitors from the Middle East will be present.
The UAE itself will be reflected by 13 various galleries and individuals, while countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar are following shortly behind with a number of exhibitors representing their country’s budding design scenes.
While the emergence of design and art scenes in neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Jordan isn’t exactly new, it’s nice to see that they’re getting more involved with design events across the region. And yet, more surprising was the number of galleries representing the UAE, from Dubai to Sharjah.
While most are familiar with Emirati designers like Khalid Shafar, Aljoud Lootah and initiatives like Tashkeel, it was a pleasant surprise to see names on the exhibitors list that I hadn’t heard of. These names include the Fatima Bint Mohammed Initiative from Abu Dhabi, Shamsa Alabbar from Dubai and VCUQatar from Doha.
As Khalid Shafar eloquently stated in this month’s opinion piece, perhaps it’s the rise of design centred events and initiatives like Design Days Dubai and Dubai’s Design District that are encouraging local Arab populations to explore the creative field.
Whatever the reason, it’s an exciting time to witness a long established field such as design, being given new angles and perspectives, and having it relate to traditional cultures by the very people who originate from the Middle East land.