UAE artists pay tributes to Sheikh Khalifa and honour President Sheikh Mohamed

From digital paintings to diamond art, artists are using their creativity to honour the leaders

A digital artwork by Indian artist Jyo John Mulloor showing Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa, left, and a piece by Emirati artist Camelia Mohebi. Photo: Jyo John Mulloor and Camelia Mohebi
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As UAE citizens join world leaders in remembering Sheikh Khalifa, who died last Friday, artists working with various media are using their creativity to pay homage to him.

On Monday, Emirati multidisciplinary artist Camelia Mohebi shared an experimental piece, a portrait of the late President, on her Instagram page. The black-and-white digital artwork, which features a patchwork of lines, signifies an energy field, Mohebi told The National. The portrait is similar to her ongoing body of work based on frequencies.

Camelia Mohebi's digital art of Sheikh Khalifa, featuring a patchwork of lines, signifies an energy field. Photo: Camelia Mohebi

"It's to illustrate that his soul is moulded into our minds and hearts and imprinted on the collective memory of the country. The blocks on the border signify the building blocks of the country he helped build and its history," Mohebi said.

The Dubai artist said she began work on the piece a day after Sheikh Khalifa's death.

"I wanted to pay homage to our dear President," she said. "I started with a charcoal sketch, which I then scanned and put through various softwares, adding different layers."

Mohebi, whose first solo exhibition in Dubai, Signals, was hosted by Sotheby's this week, said the artwork took her about six hours. She also shared another artwork of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, who was elected President of the UAE on Saturday.

Starting with a sketch and then working on a scanned image, Mohebi said she wanted to represent Sheikh Mohamed as "more current and visually strong".

"If you look closely, it's almost like a building material or a stone or a wall. He’s basically our future, that's cast in stone... a powerhouse that we are all going to lean on," she said.

Camelia Mohebi's digital art of President Sheikh Mohamed. Photo: Camelia Mohebi

Indian artist and UAE resident Jyo John Mulloor, who has made waves with his series of imaginative pictures of Dubai, has also shared his tribute, one featuring the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Khalifa.

The black-and-white portrait shows Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa in a traditional Gulf greeting and surrounded by clouds, giving it an almost celestial feel.

"Reuniting at the final abode," Mulloor captions his work on Instagram.

Jyo John Mulloor's portrait of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa. Photo: Jyo John Mulloor

The artist tells The National he was thinking about where Sheikh Khalifa would be now, and debated for a long time whether or not to do it.

"I started it and then stopped. And when I finally decided to do it again, my body was shivering and it was heating up, like somebody was pressuring me to do it," he says. "So I sat down the whole day and worked on it."

In another artwork, Mulloor portrayed Sheikh Mohamed as a young boy holding a falcon, the UAE's national bird, in his hand.

"You have been moulded under the wings of the greatest leaders in human history. Now it is time for you to fly high and take us to new heights," he captioned the photo.

Jyo John Mulloor's portrait of President Sheikh Mohamed as a young boy. Photo: Jyo John Mulloor

This week, Italian company DiamArt, which specialises in micro-diamonds, unveiled a portrait of Sheikh Mohamed to celebrate his election as President of the UAE.

Fakhri Tarabein, the founder and chief executive of Sam and Bros Co, which owns DiamArt in the UAE, says the portrait, which was made in Verona, Italy, took more than a year to complete. Made up of more than 184 carats of micro-diamonds, it is set in a gold-plated wooden frame and measures more than 100 centimetres tall and 80cm wide.

Italian micro-diamond company DiamArt has created a portrait of President Sheikh Mohamed. Photo: DiamArt

"It's the first portrait we've ever done as a company and we wanted it to be perfect," Tarabein, whose company specialises in jewellery and high-end interiors, says. "We also did one for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai and those are the only two portraits we have."

The portraits of the rulers were first printed on fibreglass, after which highly transparent diamonds were carefully placed by artists in a painstaking process, says Tarabein. He estimates that "billions" of micro-diamonds would have been used for each portrait.

Tarabein values the portraits at Dh500,000 each.

"We decided on these two leaders because they are a symbol of success, of humanity and of compassion — the qualities we need in real leaders today," he says. "They are the leaders who match our vision as a company."

Updated: May 19, 2022, 3:08 PM