'Art Amid Covid': UAE artists reflect on the pandemic in new video series

The interviews are part of Abu Dhabi Festival’s Riwaq Al Fikr talks series

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Dr. Najat Makki, Obaid Al Budoor and Mattar Bin Lahej
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How has the pandemic affected the arts? A new video series from Abu Dhabi Festival lets the artists themselves answer that question.

Ten visual artists in the UAE share their experiences and insights – from the impact of Covid-19 on their work to the outbreak's effects on the industry – in Art Amid Covid, a video series launched as part of the festival's annual Riwaq Al Fikr talks series.

Among the list of artists is Najat Makki, a pioneering figure in the UAE art scene. Born in 1956, she was the first Emirati woman to study art abroad on a government-funded scholarship in the 1970s. Her works range from abstract styles to colourist and neon paintings.

Other artists include Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, Mattar Bin Lahej, Saggaf Al Hashmi, Khulood Al Jabri, Obaid AlBudoor, Patricia Millns, Azza Al Qubaisi, Mohamed Yousif and Michael Rice.

The interviews have been conducted by Jalal Luqman, an Emirati artist and visual consultant for Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, the organiser of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Luqman said the series helps to "better understand how the pandemic affected [artists'] work and aspirations".

The five-episode series will be available online, beginning Tuesday at 8pm GST. A new episode will be released every Tuesday at the same time until Tuesday, February 23.


Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and artistic director of the festival, said: "The resilience of artists in these difficult times has been admirable, providing inspiration and motivating us through lockdowns and isolation. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we commit to supporting artists, so that our society can endure and flourish."

Established in 2004, the Abu Dhabi Festival features multidisciplinary forms of art and culture, including commissions of musical performances and exhibitions.

In 2021, the festival has a hybrid programme of digital and in-person performances and events throughout the year.

More information can be found on abudhabifestival.ae