With a mission to contribute to the Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural and community development, the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Art Festival was established by the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation, in 2013. This festival is a non-profit initiative to showcase the talent and original work of local artists, designers, photographers, and filmmakers.
The 2021 festival displayed the creative spirit of artists and brought together individuals from across the UAE and the globe. This 9th edition of the festival was a huge success with all the international standard COVID-19 safety guidelines in place. Various measures were taken such as temperature checks, limited capacity workshops and events, hand sanitizers in all villas. Masks were made compulsory to make the festival safe, enjoyable and successful.
The village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra provided the central backdrop of the festival and displayed Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene. The festival exhibited two new main sites within the Emirate — one was the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais and another was the Open Park on Al Marjan Island. Here’re some details about the festival exhibition sites:
· Al Jazirah Al Hamra – Al Jazirah Al Hamra, meaning the “Red Island” in English, is the historic home of the Al Zaabi tribe. It was a traditional pearling village before being abruptly abandoned in the early 1970s. The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival has called the village home since 2019 and, in its continued restoration and conservation, Al Jazirah Al Hamra now stands as a bridge between cultural heritage and contemporary art.
· Al Marjan Island – Al Marjan Island extends 4.5 kilometers into the sea and covers an area of 2.7 million square meters. It is home to some of Ras Al Khaimah’s most luxurious hotels and apartments.
· Jebel Jais – Surrounded by Hajar Mountain Range, Jebel Jais is the highest peak in the Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE with its summit at 1934 meters above sea level.
Highlights Of The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival
Based upon the theme of ‘Hope’, the fine arts festival reflected the re-opening of arts, guided tours, film screenings, workshops, and other events held across the three exhibition sites. The theme Hope seemed quite relevant in these challenging times when the community looked towards new beginnings along with an exciting and enriching programme. The programme explored the strength and compassion that holds the community together in these tough times. The following are some bits of information about the work presented by talented artists:
· Stunning pieces of work from the artists of Africa, Asia, and Oceania were featured during the festival.
· One of the Emirati photographer’s works ‘Harvest’ shot in Bidya Desert in Oman depicted a bountiful harvest that seemed to bring good tidings for the year ahead.
· A conceptual artist presented the imagination of ‘Children As Dreamers’, as they considered what they would like to be when they grow up.
· ‘Stand Up Together II’ was another amazing subject matter that highlighted how through collaboration we can bring hope for humanity and how people are stronger together than when alone.
· Various iconic Israeli video artworks were exhibited at the festival.
· The contemporary work related to ‘Lost In Dream’ pointed out that sometimes unavoidable circumstances may make us lose track of our dreams but hope always brings us back on track.
· Another talented photographer showcased the importance of education and how education is the greatest form of hope.
· Several abstract paintings related to sculpture and installation were displayed on large canvases, while ‘Make A Wish’ displayed a 2020 paper crane model that depicted confinement and isolation experienced during the lockdown.
· For a family-friendly cultural experience, there were henna art design spots, food trucks, and much more.
· Traditional Bedouin performances and beautiful folk dances glorified the festival.
· A US-based guest artist exhibited artworks related to the theme of birds and their feathers reflected the theme of hope. His work was displayed in the fort at Al Jazirah Heritage Village as well as the Jebel Jais and Al Marjan Island.
· Stunning short films were screened in the town of Al Jazirah Al Hamra providing a glimpse of what life was like in the 1960s and showcased the country’s best-preserved coastal community.
· The best part was that the information about the displays was digitally presented to the visitors so that they can receive contactless artwork and exhibitor information through smartphones without any registration.
The Ras Al Khaimah’s Fine Arts festival was perfect for learning about the culture and heritage of the country and revealed a past you never imagined.