July 11-13, 2017
The past five years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the creative fields in the Gulf Arab states. This symposium aims to celebrate these advances and evaluate their impact: on social change, and on the global perception and representation of the Gulf Arab states. Participants include artists and representatives from arts foundations, who will engage in discussion about the role of the creative fields and share their work through exhibitions and performances.
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #GulfArts
Tuesday July 11, 2017
1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 1060, Washington, DC 20036
The reception will feature a conversation with Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdul-Aziz and Dana Al Marashi, head of Heritage and Social Affairs at the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, moderated by Maya Allison, chief curator at New York University Abu Dhabi.
Ebtisam Abdul-Aziz is a multidisciplinary artist and writer. She was born in Sharjah, UAE and now lives and works in Washington, DC. Reflecting her bachelor’s degree in science and mathematics, Abdul-Aziz incorporates her unique perspective on mathematics and the structures of systems to explore issues of identity and culture through installations, performance pieces, and works on paper. Her works are evidence of a fascination with systemic ways of producing emotionally or intellectually meaningful forms of expression. Combining the scientific with the arbitrary, at times juxtaposing the two in order to force viewers to question their assumptions about rules in the natural and formulaic world, Abdul-Aziz is methodical in her explorations. Her approach functions within the realm of the Gestalt theory and the recognition that understanding something is greater than perceiving the sum of all of its parts.
Abdul-Aziz has exhibited: as part of the inaugural UAE and ADACH Pavilions at 53rd Venice Biennale, as well as at the 7th Sharjah Biennial; in “Languages of the Desert” at the Kunst Museum in Bonn, Germany; in “Dubai Next,” a collaboration between the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and Vitra Design Museum, Basel 2008; and at Denmark National Museum in Copenhagen. She has widely exhibited across the UAE at the Emirates Art Society Annual Exhibitions at the Sharjah Art Museum (2008-10), a solo exhibition at the Sharjah Contemporary Art Museum (2007) and at the Creek Art Fair in Bastakiya, Dubai (2008).
Dana Al Marashi is the head of the UAE Embassy’s Heritage and Social Affairs Department. In this capacity, she manages the embassy’s philanthropic and cultural initiatives, and develops programming to promote understanding between citizens and future leaders of the UAE and United States, as well as enhance appreciation of the cultural and social heritage of the UAE. The department organizes and facilitates events, visits, and institutional partnerships with UAE and U.S. organizations. Al Marashi recently managed a U.S. exhibition and tour of contemporary Emirati art, which visited seven cities around the United States. In each city, she developed programs for Emirati artists and their U.S. counterparts that highlighted shared values between the two countries. Al Marashi has also developed sports diplomacy programs and exchanges with Emirati athletes and their U.S. counterparts, and has led Emirati volunteer efforts that aided U.S. cities with their reconstruction efforts following natural disasters.
Prior to her appointment, Al Marashi was responsible for the corporate communications and social investment activities for BP in the Middle East. She played a key role in developing BP’s youth leadership initiatives for its Middle Eastern operations. She holds a master’s degree in French and management studies from the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom and is a proud alumni of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Programme for Leadership Development.
Maya Allison is founding director of the Art Gallery and chief curator at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her background is also in academic museums, including at the RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design) and curator at the Bell Gallery (Brown University). She was also director of the citywide, international new media showcase Pixilerations and of the 5 Traverse Gallery, both in Providence, RI, USA. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA in art history from Reed College, and was awarded a research fellowship on curatorial practices at Brown University’s Center for Public Humanities.
Wednesday July 12, 2017
12:00 – 2:00 pm
1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 1060, Washington, DC 20036
Arts and culture in the Gulf have undergone a transformation under the influence of a new media-savvy generation, and state investment in new arts industries. This panel maps out the new dynamism in the arts that the region is experiencing.
Watch live on July 12 starting at 12:00 pm EST.
Noor Aldabbagh founded the curatorial platform Banafsajeel to grow appreciation for art and design in the Gulf. Banafasajeel, from the Arabic phrase “in the breath of a generation” puts together an annual exhibition composed of collaborations of select artists. Aldabbagh’s background is in curating, documentary filmmaking, nonprofit management, and collecting art. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in visual and environmental studies. In 2013, Aldabbagh completed her master’s degree in art business at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. She worked at the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation for over three years, where she managed programs that supported art initiatives promoting understanding among different cultures. In that capacity, she worked on a project sponsoring the construction of the Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum in Paris in 2012.
Ahmad Angawi is an associate director of Al Makmad Foundation, a cultural institution that aims to conserve and revive the Hijazi heritage, and a program director of The House of Traditional Arts in Al-Balad, the historical district of Jeddah. The school is an initiative by the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London, and Art Jameel, and is a hub of activity serving the local and wider community of artists and craftsmen. Angawi earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and a master’s degree in traditional arts from the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London.
Aisha Stoby is an Omani art historian and curator with a specialist background in modern art from the Middle East. Stoby has served on the planning team for the Oman National Museum and has curated exhibitions such as the “Oman et La Mer” at the National Maritime Museum in Paris. She established the art foundation Al Fen Yettahedeth (Art Speaks) promoting women artists from the interior of Oman without access to art education under the Oman Ministry of Social Development’s Omani Women 2010 campaign. She has contributed to a range of publications including Tribe Magazine and Murraqa and completed fellowships, internships, and research attachments at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project, and Sotheby’s Middle East department where she catalogued for Arts of the Islamic World (2010). She holds a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She received her master’s degree from London’s Royal College of Art in curating. Stoby is currently a PhD candidate at SOAS researching modern art movements in the Gulf.
Hanan Sayed Worrell is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a specialist in the formulation and development of complex international and cultural projects, with an emphasis on strategic, civic, and business objectives. She has over 25 years of international experience in the public and private sectors, including arts and culture, education, environment, energy, and aviation.
Worrell provides cultural, strategic, and development advice to a number of institutions, while also establishing partnerships, relationships, and projects in the Gulf region, building on her earlier experience in management consulting with a leading practice in New York. As a native Arabic speaker and long-term resident of the Gulf, she has contributed professionally to several of the most impactful projects in the region including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and New York University Abu Dhabi. She is currently the senior representative for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in Abu Dhabi, with responsibilities for the planning and development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum in Saadiyat Cultural District.
Worrell has held senior positions in the Abu Dhabi government where she was responsible for the strategy, development, master planning, design, and construction of the Abu Dhabi International Airport expansion, Presidential Flight, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, Conservation and Breeding Centers, Nature Reserves, Botanical Gardens, and Wildlife Park. She earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and Master of Science in civil engineering and construction engineering management from Stanford University. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum and American Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi. She served on the boards of the American Community School of Abu Dhabi and the NYUAD Mentorship Program as well as the selection committee for the NYUAD Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program.
Mariet Westermann is the executive vice president at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Prior to this, she was the first provost and chief academic officer at New York University Abu Dhabi. She has held various positions at the Clark Art Institute, the Institute of Fine Arts, and Rutgers University. Westermann is the author of A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic 1585-1718 (Harry Abrams, 1996), The Amusements of Jan Steen: Comic Painting in the 17th Century (Waanders, 1997), Rembrandt (Art and Ideas, Phaidon, 2000), and numerous articles and reviews. She edited Anthropologies of Art (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2005) and four volumes of the Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art. Westermann has a BA from Williams College, and her MA and PhD in the history of art from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. She has received fellowships and grants from the American Philosophical Society, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Clark Art Institute, and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wednesday July 12, 2017
Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
807 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Fatima Alhameli is the first female Emirati camel owner to take part in the Camel Beauty Pageant Competition. Her first attempts to join the competition were met with several tribal disputes, not only by the organizers but also by society. She remained steadfast, however, in her desire to represent Emirati women in this male dominant field, and struggled to realize her goals without being criticized or discouraged. Fatima’s unique story is depicted in this documentary by Nujoom Al-Ghanim.
A discussion with the director will follow.
Nujoom Al-Ghanim is an Emirati artist, poet, scriptwriter, and multiaward-winning film director. She has published eight poetry collections and produced 11 films, including five short fictions and six feature length documentaries. Her films have won local, regional, and international prizes. She is the founder of Nahar Productions, a production company based in Dubai, and is a professional trainer in filmmaking and creative writing. Following a career as a journalist for the Abu Dhabi newspaper Almaraa Alyaum, she earned a degree in television production from Ohio University and a master’s degree in film production from Griffith University School of Film in Australia. Her seven poetry collections include Layloun Thakilon Alla Allayle (Heavy Night on the Night) (2010), Malaikat Al-Ashwaaq Al-Baeeda (Angels of Distant Longing) (2008), La Wasf Lima Ana Feeh (No Describing What I Am In) (2005), Manazel Al-Jilnaar (Homes of Pomegranate Blossoms) (2000), Rawahel (Journeyings) (1996), Al-Jarair (The Sins) (1991), and Masaa Al-Janah (Evening of Heaven) (1989). Alghanem’s documentary films include: “Hamam” (2010), “Between Two Banks” (1999), and “Al Mureed,” winner of the Best Documentary in the Gulf from the 2008 Emirates Film Competition.
Raymond E. Karam is the senior director for programs and outreach at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Previously Karam worked as the EastWest Institute’s Washington, DC representative, where he directed the institute’s outreach to members of Congress, congressional staff, various federal departments, foreign embassies, and international organizations. Karam holds a Master of Science in international relations and transnational security from New York University, and a certificate in international law and European studies from the University of Amsterdam.
Thursday July 13, 2017
Busboys and Poets
2021 14th St, NW Washington, DC 20009
As arts in the Gulf have matured, Gulf artists, and increasingly Gulf governments, have seized upon arts and culture as an alternative means of global connection and diplomacy. This panel will explore individual and state art initiatives to engage, change perceptions, and project influence.
A performance by Tarek Yamani will follow the discussion at 7:30 pm.
Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba is the president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Previously, Wahba led DerMar International, LLC, a consulting firm focused on assisting U.S. businesses working in the Middle East. Additionally, she served as the senior advisor for the GCC countries at PineBridge Investments, and served as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Northrop Grumman. She was confirmed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the UAE in 2001. After a 22-year career spent mostly in the Middle East, Wahba retired from the State Department in 2008, class of Minister Counselor. She received the White House Presidential Meritorious Service Award for her service in the UAE and was decorated with the UAE’s Order of Independence (First Class). Wahba earned a BA in political science from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.
Terry Harvey is the vice president of the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy. His role includes developing and managing cultural exchanges in the United States and abroad, exhibition design, business development, and overseeing program financials. Since joining Meridian in 2002 as exhibitions coordinator, Harvey has been involved in dozens of exhibitions and cultural programs and plays a vital role in creating domestic and international partnerships for exchanges designed and implemented by Meridian. During his 13 years of developing international partnerships, Harvey has worked with over 20 countries and has built sustainable relationships and connections across the diplomatic, government, and cultural sectors. He has managed projects in China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Honduras, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Turkmenistan, and the UAE, among others. Harvey has a B.S. in art from Radford University with a focus on studio and art history.
Marwah AlMugait is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and has a BA in business administration from King Saud University and an MA in photojournalism from the University of Westminster. In developing her photography technique she has dramatically moved from commercial to conceptual art photography. Her photographs tend to be intimate portraits of stories, providing the audience a confidential glimpse into a private moment. AlMugait’s work focuses on exposition: shedding light on things that people overlook or discard. Her work encompasses a wide variety of themes but embodies the desire to explore the gap between new and old ways of communicating. AlMugait’s work emphasizes the fluidity and turbulence. By drawing from a wide range of technologies and a heightened sense of awareness, she forces her audience to pay attention to the pauses in human interaction.
Stephen Stapleton is the founding director of Edge of Arabia and the Crossway Foundation, both platforms for cultural exchange and artistic production between the Middle East and the Western world. In 2014 he launched CULTURUNNERS – a new model for cultural diplomacy and storytelling across contested borders. CULTURUNNERS’ first major project is a multiyear artists road trip connecting the Middle East and the United States. Since 2008, Stapleton has produced over 30 landmark exhibitions in the United States, the Middle East, and Europe, including three times at the Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennale, Art Dubai, Smithsonian Institute, Arab American National Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has published a number of artists’ books including Offscreen: Four Young Artists in the Middle East (2004), Ahmed Mater (2009), Edge of Arabia (2010), and Abdulnasser Gharem: The Art of Survival (2011). Stapleton holds a degree in fine art and philosophy from the University of Brighton and a PGCE focusing on arts education from the University of London.
Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani is the founding director and chief curator of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art in New York City. Opened in May 2016, the IAIA hosts exhibitions travelling from the Arab and Islamic worlds. Al-Thani explains his decision to open the institute stating, “It made absolute sense to build an institute that would not only showcase the breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic worlds, but also challenge certain stereotypes and misconceptions that hinder cross-cultural understanding.”
Kristin Smith Diwan is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. She works in both comparative politics and international relations and specializes in Arab and Islamist politics. Her current projects concern Gulf political economy, the politics of sectarianism, generational change, and the evolution of Islamism in the GCC. Her analyses of Gulf affairs have appeared in many publications, among them Geopolitics, Middle East Report, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. Diwan received her PhD in political science from Harvard University, and holds an MA in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She completed her undergraduate degree at Baylor University in Texas.
Tarek Yamani is an American-Lebanese New York-based award winning composer and a self-taught jazz pianist. Since the release of his debut “Ashur” in 2012, Yamani has been dedicated to exploring relationships between African-American jazz and Arabic rhythms/maqams, which are most evident in his second album “Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic.” In 2016, Yamani was commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation to write new work based on the rhythms of the Arabian Gulf. The new work “Peninsular” was released in March 2017 and had its world premiere at the Abu Dhabi Festival ’17. In 2010, Yamani won the Thelonious Monk Int’l Jazz Composer’s Competition for his composition “Sama’i Yamani” featuring singer Rasha Rizk. On April 30 2012, Yamani was invited to be among the 32 musicians from 13 countries to perform in the inaugural International Jazz Day held at the U.N. headquarters in New York .
Opening Reception for Exhibit by Emirati Artist Ebtisam Abdul-Aziz
The New Dynamism in Gulf Arts & Entertainment
Film Screening: “Nearby Sky” by Nujoom Al-Ghanim
Culture and International Outreach
Closing Performance by Tarek Yamani