Wasel Safwan is used to expressing himself on flat surfaces but was persuaded to get into the Grand Prix spirit by decorating a replica Formula One car in his distinctive abstract style at the Marina Mall in the capital.
Wasel Safwan is used to expressing himself on flat surfaces but was persuaded to get into the Grand Prix spirit by decorating a replica Formula One car in his distinctive abstract style at the Marina

A brush with speed

Wasel Safwan prefers his transport unadorned. "When I buy a car, I don't like to put anything on it, even on the glass," the Emirati painter explains. "I was always the person who was against putting anything on the car." And yet here is Safwan, standing on a podium outside the Ferrari store in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall, having just spent an evening subjecting a life-size replica of a Formula One racer to his trademark painterly style.

He calls it "UAEism", a jagged, brightly coloured school of abstraction which is intended to evoke the diversity and promise of life in the Emirates. You might have seen his work featured in this year's Emirati Expressions show at the Emirates Palace: giant canvases traversed by splashy trails of paint. Usually the edge of the canvas is as far as those trails go. Still, the Grand Prix is coming to town and, in the spirit of diversity and promise, Safwan let himself be persuaded to join in the programme of festivities.

"When they told me to do this, it was not like: 'Yes, let me do it'," he confesses. "I told them, maybe someone can do it better than me, because I've never done something like that and I don't want them to lose this opportunity." In fact, other artists are also getting their turn. The all-female art collective Mizmah have been working on a car of their own at Zayed University. Other artists scheduled to participate in The Art of Racing later this month are Dana Saif al Mazrouei, Jalal Luqman and Khalid Mezaina.

Still, the event organisers persevered with Safwan. "They kept explaining, and they really wanted me to be involved and just to use my style," he recalls. "I said OK, I will use my style. I will not change." At the time of writing it's difficult to say what the results will be: Safwan had spent just the first evening of four working on the project. But his signature swirls and bands of colour were indeed unchanged. And apparently the state of visionary absorption in which the artist prefers to work was not compromised by the presence of curious shoppers.

"Some moments, I forgot who was around me," he says. "I forgot that I'm painting the car. I just focused on the lines and looking from different angles, how to connect these lines together. And I tried to hear the wheels, you know?" Safwan came to motor racing late in life. "When I was a child I used to go with my uncle to camel races," he says. "Later on we started to like car races... We used to watch it on TV. I'd never seen a Formula One race car before. And all of a sudden, I am painting one."

This has not been without its challenges. "It's different shapes!" he exclaims. "It's like speed shapes, sharp shapes. There are some curves but it's built for speed. I used to paint on objects but it's my first time to paint on a car." All the same, he trusts that inspiration will come. "It's unconscious," he says. "When I finish it, I will know that I did not create it; I just discovered it. It was somewhere else and it's now here. From a psychological point of view, I never create anything. I just discover it and attract it and make it real to our eyes."

And he knew where he had to start. "When I came in the beginning I said: 'What should be the first touch?' I said the first touch I should do is to write Abu Dhabi." And so, across the car's rear spoiler is emblazoned the name of Safwan's home emirate. He wants to make sure it's visible from every angle, so that any photographs unambiguously commemorate the home of the first UAE Grand Prix. For his part, however, Safwan is not content to stop at decorating cars. He used to be an architect and wants to see UAEism displayed on an even grander canvas.

"I would be happy in the future if I could paint a tower," he says. "If they give me a tower, I could paint the whole tower." Anybody with a spare one is invited to get in touch. The Art of Racing continues throughout October. See www.yasalam.ae for details.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Sustainable Development Goals

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Ammar 808:
Maghreb United

Sofyann Ben Youssef

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

The specs

Engine: four-litre V6 and 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: six-speed and 10-speed

Power: 271 and 409 horsepower

Torque: 385 and 650Nm

Price: from Dh229,900 to Dh355,000

How to report a beggar

Abu Dhabi – Call 999 or 8002626 (Aman Service)

Dubai – Call 800243

Sharjah – Call 065632222

Ras Al Khaimah - Call 072053372

Ajman – Call 067401616

Umm Al Quwain – Call 999

Fujairah - Call 092051100 or 092224411

If you go

The flights
Return flights from Dubai to Santiago, via Sao Paolo cost from Dh5,295 with Emirates

The trip
A five-day trip (not including two days of flight travel) was split between Santiago and in Puerto Varas, with more time spent in the later where excursions were organised by TurisTour.

When to go
The summer months, from December to February are best though there is beauty in each season

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024


Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).


Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).


Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers


Third Test, Day 2

New Zealand 274
Pakistan 139-3 (61 ov)

Pakistan trail by 135 runs with 7 wickets remaining in the innings

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre, flat six-cylinder
Transmission: seven-speed PDK
Power: 510hp
Torque: 470Nm
Price: from Dh634,200
On sale: now

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.


Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 275hp at 6,600rpm

Torque: 353Nm from 1,450-4,700rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Top speed: 250kph

Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km

On sale: Now

Price: Dh146,999

Kanye West

Ye — the rapper formerly known as Kanye West — has seen his net worth fall to $400 million in recent weeks. That’s a precipitous drop from Bloomberg’s estimates of $6.8 billion at the end of 2021.
Ye’s wealth plunged after business partners, including Adidas, severed ties with him on the back of anti-Semitic remarks earlier this year.
West’s present net worth derives from cash, his music, real estate and a stake in former wife Kim Kardashian’s shapewear firm, Skims.

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