How the UAE arts community is helping raise funds for Beirut

From artwork prints to design services, the UAE's creative community has developed initiatives to help

Cinema Akil will be screening two films by Lebanese directors as part of their Beirut Relief initiative. Courtesy Cinema Akil 
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As Beirut copes with the aftermath of a major explosion that struck the city on Tuesday, the cultural community in the UAE has stepped in to raise funds for the Lebanese Red Cross.

Lebanon's capital was hit hard by the disaster, leaving at least 157 people dead and thousands injured, missing or homeless. A small but thriving art scene in the city has also been left decimated after the blasts as galleries and museums deal with the wreckage and the difficulty of recovery amid the country's economic woes.

However, as the rescue and recovery efforts continue, the UAE's cultural community is offering support through a number of initiatives:

Gulf Photo Plus

Dubai’s Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) is running a print sale of Lebanese artist Roi Saade’s work, with the entirety of proceeds to be donated to the Lebanese Red Cross.

GPP founder Mohamed Somji says Saade was quick to support the sale of 100 limited-edition prints, available for Dh195 each.

The image – a reminder of the long-running turmoil within Lebanon's economy and society – shows the Lebanese flag draped over protestors as they march Beirut's streets during the October Revolution last year. It is part of GPP's ongoing exhibition All What I Want is Life, which chronicles the wave of demonstrations across the Arab world through the eyes of young photographers.

Since the start of the initiative on Thursday, nearly half of the prints have been sold.

Limited-edition prints of Roi Saade's work are currently available at Gulf Photo Plus. Courtesy the aritst and Gulf Photo Plus 

Somji adds that the photography centre is currently organising a larger worldwide print sale with participation from 50 regional and international artists with connections to Lebanon. The second sale will go live on Monday, August 17.

More information can be found on the GPP website

Cinema Akil

Cinema Akil announced it will be hosting Beirut Relief Screenings on Sunday, August 9 and Friday and Saturday, August 14 and 15. The independent cinema platform in Al Quoz has selected two films by Lebanese directors Nadine Labaki and Ziad Doueiri for the screenings, and proceeds from the tickets (priced at Dh52.50) will go to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Cinema Akil will be screening two films by Lebanese directors as part of their Beirut Relief initiative. Courtesy Cinema Akil 

One of the films is Doueiri's West Beirut, a coming-of-age story about teenagers grappling with the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, which will be shown on 7pm on August 9 and 2pm on August 14.

Labaki's Where Do We Go Now? will screen at 9.30pm on August 9 and 1.45pm on August 15. The film from the Oscar-nominated director centres on a group of women in a remote village who devise ways to keep their men from fighting in a war that begins to rage outside of their rural area.

Tickets are available on Cinema Akil's website

Two Thirds

Creative businesses, such as design studios Two Thirds and Fikra Designs, have also offered help.

Two Thirds has posted a call out on social media to Beirut design agencies or creative enterprises affected by the disaster, offering to complete any of their outstanding projects so that the teams can focus on recovery efforts.

A post on the studio’s Instagram page stated: “We know work is the last thing on everyone’s mind right now, but we want to make sure you get paid while you are prioritizing rebuilding and recovering on the ground”.

More information on the design studio's website or Instagram page 

Fikra Designs

Sharjah’s Fikra Designs have announced that the coming week’s proceeds from the design services, membership and sales in their cafe and shop, including coffees and branded t-shirts, will be given to a UAE charity that is sending aid to Lebanon.

Fikra has also shared various resources for other charities on their Instagram page, with links to Emirates Red Crescent, Beit El Baraka and the Lebanese Food Bank.

Details have been shared on Fikra's Instagram page

Artist Nima Nabavi

Artist Nima Nabavi, who lives and works in Dubai, has created his own fundraising initiative through The Third Line gallery. Nabavi has made 15 prints of one of his intricate geometric artwork available as a gift, saying that those who donate at least $50 (Dh183) to the Lebanese Red Cross can collect the work from the gallery. Previous prints of the work were also available for fundraising efforts towards the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

The artist has included more information on how to donate through his Instagram page.