In Woman and Horse, a woman with long, black hair is depicted stroking a white Arabian horse. The artist behind the oil painting is an 18-year-old Emirati student Roudha Almazrouei, who is currently studying visual arts and art history at New York University Abu Dhabi. Recounting the story behind the painting, the young artist tells us,“The inspiration behind my piece was the beauty of the Emirati woman contrasted with the beauty of the horse… I wanted to echo the elegance of Emirati women through their confidence and strength.”
Roudha’s painting is part of Emirati Womanhood, a new art show organized by the Khaleeji Art Museum -the first digital museum that is dedicated to showcasing the work of Gulf and Gulf based artists and photographers- in collaboration with Dubai Festival City Mall to showcase the artwork of regional artists. The show features the work of six established and emerging female Emirati artists and photographers- Fatma Lootah, Nujoom Alghanem, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Fatema Al Fardan, Maythaa Alshamsi and Roudha Almazrouei- on the world’s largest permanent outdoor projection in celebration of Emirati Women’s Day, which annually falls on August 28. Emirati Womanhood is the Museum’s latest art show. Previous shows have included Summer in the Gulf, Khaleeji Culture, and Eid Amid Covid-19.
The new show centers on artistically presenting elements of Emirati womanhood from the perspective of the participating artists and photographers, from culture and traditions to values to qualities. For example, renowned Emirati artist Fatma Lootah’s The Bride, depicts a woman dressed in traditional bridal attire and adorned with gold. Likewise, emerging Emirati photographer Maythaa Alshamsi’s Your Eyes and the Night, which was inspired by a poem of the same name by Prince Badr bin Abdul Mohsen Al Saud, celebrates Emirati beauty, which is accentuated when women dress in a thoub, sheila and wear gold jewelry, she says.
Fatema Al Fardan’s Heroine, on the other hand, which depicts a woman in a thoub and burqa holding a bamboo stick, represents female strength and empowerment. The idea of womanhood is central to the 22-year-old Emirati photographer and artist’s work, which has been showcased in Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421 and the Middle East Institute. “Being an Emirati woman artist gives me agency to inform my own narrative,” she says, when we ask her what being an Emirati artist means to her.
For Emirati digital artist, fashion designer and curator Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, “ It means pride. I am proud to be an Emirati artist and to be able to represent my country on many occasions, nationally and internationally.” Sumayyah has exhibited her work in France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain, and some of her surreal art pieces were auctioned off through Christy’s and sold through London’s prestigious Saatchi Art Gallery. Like well-known Emirati artist Nujoom Alghanem’s Souraya, the women in Sumayyah’s work, “do not resemble nor represent a specific nationality or race. The women in my work are universal.”
“Their beauty and elegance inspire me, but mainly the women in my work resemble me, my feelings and what I was going through during the time I was working on them,” she adds. “My work is surrealistic; it’s a fantasy world that I create whenever I want to escape the real world.”
The Emirati Womanhood Show will be available for viewing every night until September 7th, between 19:00 to 22:00 every night in Dubai Festival City Mall.
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This article was updated on 3:58 PM on 15 August 2021 to reflect that Fatema Al Fardan’s age is 22, not 24 years.