'The moment I learnt how to hold a pencil, I wanted to create'

The Emirati artist Maryam Khalifa Al Falasi celebrates the culture and traditions of the UAE in her work.

Al Falasi draws on her Emirati heritage. Courtesy Maryam Khalifa Al Falasi
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As a child, the Emirati artist Maryam Khalifa Al Falasi felt a strong fascination with all forms of art and the abstract shapes of letters.

The Zayed University graduate's work is featured in Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's book 40 Poems from the Desert and is part of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed's private collection.

"Love for art, I think, was born with me from the start," says Al Falasi. "From the moment I learnt how to hold a pencil, I wanted to create something. Starting from scribbles, to stick figures, to primary drawings, I grew to love it more and more. As I grew up, it became a gateway to describe my feelings and express my thoughts." Al Falasi incorporates her identity as an Emirati into her work, insisting that a trace of one's past and traditions should always be visible.

The result is a blending of media, from basic drawing, painting and photography to digital art, calligraphy, linoleum and wood carving and web design.

"My beginnings were doodles and scribbles on my school textbooks - with a lot of scolding that came with it," she says. "Soon, I realised that if I don't do what I love in the future, art, I will never be happy.

"The most important thing is that when you want to do something in life, your family and friends support you. It sounds clichéd, but it's very true."

Media One Hotel in Dubai will be showing Al Falasi's contemporary images blended with Arabic calligraphy as part of its Ramadan activities until August 23. The hotel will also be holding a silent auction of calligraphy prints to raise funds for the disadvantaged in the UAE.

Until August 23, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City. At tonight's opening, from 8pm, Al Falasi will be present to answer questions. For information, call 04 427 1000 or email cu@mediaonehotel.com