Abu Dhabi // A woman who has dedicated half her life to promoting Middle Eastern artists will be speaking tonight at the Emirates Palace hotel.
Rose Issa, 61, based in London, is a Lebanese Iranian independent curator and artistic adviser.
She plans to address the key trends of art in Iran and the Arab world during the past 50 years.
Her talk will coincide with the final days of the "Opening The Doors" exhibition, which has been running ever since the Abu Dhabi Art fair in November.
During an interview yesterday, she said she wanted to learn more about Emirati artists during her visit.
"My talk will be a short background related to the exhibition, and covering key moments in art trends over the past few decades, but what I really hope is that the audience asks me questions.
"I'd love to know more about Emirati artists and I hope to be able to tell them that any success in life does not come overnight."
Ms Issa has spent the last 30 years curating film festivals and exhibitions on contemporary arts from the Middle East at international institutions including the Barbican Art Centre in London, the Parc de la Villette in Paris, and Asia House in New York.
She has become something of a heroine in the regional art scene, and many young artists are looking forward to her talk.
Alaa Edris, a 24-year-old Emirati who organises art projects for the department of culture and information in Sharjah, said Ms Issa was one of her role models.
"She's a dominant figure in the art scene, and I look up to her particularly because she is Arab and she is a woman," Ms Edris said. "Much of my work focuses on gender and identity issues, and I think the work Rose Issa has done has touched on these matters. Whenever I get a chance to see an exhibition curated by her or to listen to her talk, I make sure I go. I will definitely be there [tonight]."
Ms Issa was modest about her status as an inspirational figure for many young artists, saying her life's work came from a need which she had to fulfil.
"I had no other choice but to do what I did," she said. "In 1982 there was the invasion of Lebanon and I wanted to express the voices of Arab people who were not being heard.
"I think everyone who truly believes in what they do and who is sincere and straightforward about it will be successful," she said. "However, perseverance is key."
Ms Issa will be speaking at Gallery One, Emirates Palace at 6.30pm tonight. "Opening The Doors" closes on January 8.