Wandering around the Expo 2020 Dubai site, a collection of water fountains will catch your eye. The Sabeel Fountains, a series of striking drinking fountains, have been designed to both refresh and impress visitors at the world's fair.
One design resembles a letterbox, complete with an embossed letter by its artist, and another incorporates natural elements to represent a mini "natural world". The fountains are contemporary artistic interpretations of the traditional Emirati drinking fountain, the sabeel.
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“Through these beautiful and innovatively designed drinking fountains, we invite visitors to take a moment to pause as they quench their thirst and consider their own connection to this most precious resource,” says Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer at Expo 2020 Dubai.
A collaboration between Expo 2020 and Art Jameel, the initiative began in September 2019, with the Sabeel 2020 open call. The design contest received more than 100 proposals and was overseen by an internationally renowned jury, who selected and awarded two design collaboratives – UAE creative studio Architecture + Other Things and design team Faissal El-Malak and Alia Bin Omair. The designers created Water in the Green and Nahel, respectively, collectively known as Signature Fountains.
The Signature Fountains have been reproduced, with a total of 37 fountains scattered around public spaces at Expo 2020.
Water in the Green combines robust materials with plants, highlighting sustainability efforts at Expo 2020. Nahel features motifs of humankind, nature and technology connecting in harmony, illustrating Expo 2020’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
Expo 2020 also invited two contemporary artists, Nasir Nasrallah and Dana Awartani, to create larger drinking fountains, known as Artistic Fountains. Nasrallah’s Letter to Water is a love letter to the precious resource, while Awartani’s The Well resembles a stone well.
“It is exciting to see our collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai come to fruition. Alongside our exhibitions and learning programmes at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, Art Jameel has a commitment to supporting artists and creative communities through collaborative projects," says Antonia Carver the Art Jameel director.
"Water – and water and food futures – are embedded within our curatorial threads, shaped by a number of long-term, multiyear themes that manifest in commissions, among many other initiatives."
The Sabeel Fountains operate using hands-free sensor taps and have incorporated bottle filler taps in lieu of bubblers.