Al Hai: new light installations inspired by Emirati neighbourhoods brighten up Downtown Dubai

Visitors can play and take pictures with the works, which are on view until January 30

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A series of light installations are adding vibrancy to the streets of Downtown Dubai.

The six works, installed along Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, draw elements from traditional Emirati neighbourhoods, including courtyards, alleyways, the majlis and baqala, or local store, and have been reimagined in creative and contemporary ways by seven local designers.

Unveiled on Friday, the installations, which are interactive and open to the public, make up the Al Hai project, an initiative for the Dubai Shopping Festival by Dubai Culture and Emaar.

The talents behind Al Hai are Rowdah Alsayegh, Yara Manla, Raghad Al Ali, Fatima Alawadhi, Eman Al Rahma, Ahmed Geaissa and Abdullah Khouri, whose backgrounds come from a mix of multimedia design, photography, architecture and product design.

Among their creations is an artistic reinterpretation of the sikka, an alleyway that connects houses in a typical Emirati neighbourhood. Al Hai’s sikka installation features a pathway of bird sculptures perched on light rods.

Other reimagined architectural features include the majlis, a gathering room for guests in Emirati households, recreated with angular LED lights around a structure; while the baqala is reinterpreted as an illuminated shelf, using panels and hanging lights twisted and shaped to represent bottles and other objects.

In another work, a line of arches create an illusion of an entryway, inspired by the local mosque, while the traditional Emirati courtyard, or al hewee, is represented by bird figures and colourful string lights with a swing underneath for visitors to use.

Finally, the playground game saha is given a fresh, colourful look with multicoloured square lights. With a layout similar to hopscotch, the game is typically played in homes or sikkas. At Al Hai, visitors can hop and skip along the lights, too.

The project aims to be sustainable, with the installations made from recycled and repurposed lights used in previous Dubai Shopping Festivals.

It has been designed to “support young, local talents", according to Shaima Rashed Al Suwaidi of Dubai Culture.

“The artistic project truly captures the essence and unique nature of the traditional Emirati neighbourhoods that can be found across Dubai by inviting visitors to explore their unmistakable landmarks and architectural features through the highly innovative use of immersive lighting techniques," added Ahmed Al Khaja, chief executive of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, in a statement.

The lights of Al Hai will brighten up the Downtown Dubai neighbourhood every evening after sunset until Saturday, January 30.