Arab British Centre launches digital course for Gulf and British creatives

Organisation has two new digital artworks created by four female artists from Oman, Saudi Arabia and UK

Alaa Tarabzouni and Ellie Niblock, who were paired together for the Connect ME Digital Residency Programme summer residency. Courtesy Arab British Centre 
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A new course will allow four young creatives in the Gulf and the UK to collaborate on a digital art project over a four-week programme of online mentoring.

The Arab British Centre, in partnership with the British Council, has opened applications for the winter edition of their "Connect ME" digital residency programme.

The scheme was launched this year as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is a digital continuation of the Arab British Centre’s creative exchange programme Making Marks, where people from the UK and Gulf collaborate.

Connect ME connects creatives aged between 18 and 30 based in the GCC countries and Britain to create collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders.

With Love: From Nowhere, created by Ellie Niblock and Alaa Tarabzouni for the Connect ME digital residency programme. Arab British Centre

Applicants can decide the theme and direction of each project.

Applications are welcomed from all creative backgrounds. The only conditions are that the work must be delivered to the public through digital channels, and must be acollaboration.

The four selected participants will benefit from a residency fee of £1,000 ($1,312), guidance and support from the Arab British Centre and a mentor from a cultural organisation.

The works will be featured on the Making Marks website, home to all of the artworks created under the programme.

The Arab British Centre and British Council social media channels will also promote the applicants’ work.

Four young artists collaborated in the summer residency, which ran from July to August 2020.

Ellie Niblock, a London artist whose work explores the relationship between the physical and digital worlds, and Alaa Tarabzouni, an artist in Riyadh who specialises in urbanity and the built environment, were paired together over the summer.

Their digital project, With Love: From Nowhere (بالحب: من العدم), takes viewers on an exploration into "unknowable places of the not yet".

In the work, the artists convey the impossible physical experience of visiting fictional non-places into the digital realm through a combination of drawing, sculpture, 3D scanning, mapping and sound.

Tarabzouni said the pair relied heavily on social media platforms, video calls and instant messaging to share inspiration and develop the work.

“We also used more traditional modes of communication, by using the postal service," she said.

"Found objects were sent from Saudi Arabia to the UK to create hybrid, hand-held, sculptural objects.

"They were used as the foundations for the [digital] non-place, as they were thoroughly translated in various ways."

Niblock said: “Working one on one with another artist was a great experience for me, and I was surprised to work so well in collaboration online.

"I did not expect to create such an ambitious project.

“My advice to any artists thinking of applying to the residency would be to be open to ideas, change and challenging your practice.”

The Connect ME Winter Residency Open Call is open now.

Applications can be submitted in English or Arabic before 11pm GMT on November 29, the details for which can be found on

Arab British Centre announces the Open Call for the Winter Edition of their Connect ME Digital Residency Programme. Courtesy Arab British Centre