From zero-waste iftars to late-night souqs: What art spaces are doing this Ramadan

Spaces such as House of Artisans and Warehouse421 have also opened new exhibitions

Jameel Arts Centre's Ramadan programming includes a tablescaping workshop and a pop-up market with homegrown vendors. Courtesy Art Jameel
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As Ramadan enters its first week, arts and culture spaces in the UAE are putting together events that place wellness and community at the core.

Every week, Alserkal Avenue is offering different activities, including zero-waste iftars and reading groups, while Jameel Arts Centre will teach the art of creating the ideal dining setting and will host a Ramadan souq with homegrown vendors at the end of the month.

Here are a few things to do at the UAE’s cultural spaces this month:

#ThisIsNotABuffet at Alserkal Avenue

Every Wednesday during Ramadan, Alserkal Avenue is hosting a programme focused on community care, including a donation drive with Stop and Help, a UAE platform that connects those in need with individuals who can extend a helping hand.

For those looking to be more mindful of their consumption habits, Chef Halawa, who specialises in Levantine cuisine, will host a zero waste iftar filled with Palestinian dishes from his hometown.

Using her novel Burnt Sugar as a springboard to discuss about care, familial obligations and community ties, author Avni Doshi will run reading sessions and discussions on Wednesday, at 8pm-10pm.

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Ramadan Nights at Jameel Arts Centre

Jameel Arts Centre’s Ramadan programming, presented in collaboration with #MyDubai, features a tablescaping workshop led by designer Anoud Al Zaben, which guides visitors on how to create a nature-inspired table layout for suhoor.

The 90-minute workshop, which takes place on Monday, draws inspiration from the centre's third Artist's Garden commission, Desert is a Forest by Sunoj D and Namrata Neog, and includes a tour of current exhibitions before the event.

Other events include a family night, featuring drop-in workshops and educational activities for children at the Jameel Library, on Friday; an evening dedicated to Arabic literature with Emirati writer Sultan Al Ameemi on Monday, April 26; and a Ramadan Souq with local vendors selling vintage clothing, baked goods and gift-worthy items on Friday, April 30.

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Ramadan Nights at Al Seef

Al Seef has collaborated with Dubai Culture to present art along its waterfront promenade located close to the Al Fahidi Historical District. The outdoor art gallery includes drawings, paintings, sculptures and video installations by various local artists.

Works include Arabic calligrapher Mohamed Elagaty’s augmented reality animation and Ali Shawwa’s 3D-printed sculptures of everyday objects from the region that have become motifs, including sand dunes, coffee cups and abayas. There are also outdoor installations by Yara Manla and Raghad and Asma Ahmed Shikoh, alongside paintings by Masarra Fatima Sulaimani.

Al Seef has also installed Ramadan lights along the area. The works will remain on view until Eid Al Fitr.

Al Seef has collaborated with Dubai Culture to present an outdoor art gallery along its promenade. Courtesy Al Seef

Cinema Akil screenings

Cinema Akil, which focuses on showcasing independent and art house films, is presenting an exclusive Ramadan release of The Man Who Sold His Skin from Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania, nominated for the Best International Feature Film at the coming Oscar awards.

The film tells the story of Sam Ali, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Eager to move to Europe for his lover, he agrees to have his back tattooed by a contemporary artist, a decision that complicates his life as collectors become interested in acquiring the art.

New exhibitions to see 

House of Artisans celebrates traditional weaving

House of Artisans at Qasr Al Hosn has reopened with a permanent exhibition honouring local artisans. The cultural centre explores the way the people of the UAE made use of the country's natural resources, specifically in the area of crafts with practices such as Sadu and Khoos weaving. The former refers to a weaving practice by Bedouin women in the UAE that uses wool of sheep, camels and goats to create intricate geometric designs that reflect on social identity. The latter is practised by men and women and involves braiding palm fronds to create functional objects such as food containers and fans.

The House of Artisans exhibition includes displays of different personal collections of woven objects, as well as the different materials used by craftsmen and craftswomen from the UAE.

Total Landscaping at Warehouse421

The latest in the Substructures: Excavating the Everyday exhibition series, which is curated by Murtaza Vali and which investigates the infrastructures that shape Gulf cities, Total Landscaping looks at the Gulf’s relationship with plant life, how it is understood and consumed in the area and across the global south.

Drawing from the research of Harvard professor Gareth Doherty, which explores landscape architectural theory and how human ecology is entangled with environmental issues, the show looks at how the local flora has been shaped by capitalism and politics, featuring participants such as Layan Attari, Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi, GCC, Mohamed Khalid, Ho Rui An, Hind Mezaina (with Todd Reisz), Farah Al-Qasimi, Stephanie Syjuco and Yee I-Lann.

Total Landscaping runs until Sunday, June 13.

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