Emirates Fine Arts Society's exhibition held in 1981. Courtesy Emirates Fine Arts Society
Emirates Fine Arts Society's exhibition held in 1981. Courtesy Emirates Fine Arts Society

The UAE Art Archive is first online facility dedicated to preserving the country’s visual arts history

Have you ever wondered what to do with all the catalogues and pamphlets you accumulate after visiting art exhibitions? Do they end up in piles, collecting dust, or do you file them away for your own research and reference?

Now there is a new home for them: the UAE Art Archive – the first online facility dedicated to preserving and documenting the UAE’s visual arts history.

It will be launched officially on Sunday, April 10, as part of the annual Abu Dhabi Festival, but work has been going on behind the scenes for the past two years under the watchful eye of its founder, Nasser Abdullah, the chairman of the Emirates Fine Arts Society.

“The society is the oldest in the UAE dealing specifically with art and there is great strength in that,” he says.

“I have been thinking for some time about the best way to show the value of the society, and documenting everything we have done since 1980 is a very important step. We want to show our deep and fertile history.”

Abdullah has been the society’s chairman for two years, and was recently re-­elected to the post for two more.

Along with a relaunch of the society’s magazine, the art archive has been his main focus.

“It began as an idea and then I went about finding support,” he says.

A collaboration with Abu ­Dhabi Music and Art Foundation means that not only did he secure funding, he also found an elevated platform from which to launch the project.

“Over the past 20 years, through our many platforms and programmes, we have invested in artistic expression in all its forms while embedding culture at the heart of the nation,” says Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder and director of Admaf.

“The UAE Art Archive is a definitive, comprehensive and official historical resource for the country’s visual-arts sector, and is part of our efforts to continue to deepen our involvement with creative practitioners both here and across the Arab world.”

The process of digitisation began in January. A third-party company has been hired to take on the exhaustive task of scanning and recording more than 10,000 documents, including photographs, catalogues, essays, exhibition invitations and newspaper articles in Arabic and English.

When the website goes live next week, only a fraction of the full archive will be available, but it will be constantly updated with not only historical material, but also information about current activities.

“The important thing about this archive is that it is a continually evolving entity, just like the art scene itself,” says Abdullah. “We want to provide a resource that will be useful for students and researchers, now and for many generations to come.”

The archive will be open to anyone for free after registering. The material will be ordered chronologically and fully searchable.

When you log on, you will be asked why you are using the archive and what for, as a way of gathering information about its use and ­to help understand the audience.

There will also be an opportunities to borrow hard copies of documents, if you apply to the society and agree to protect the original copyright.

“This project will benefit the entire nation,” says Abdullah. “It is a new achievement for the UAE art field, and it not only documents our history, but also give support and encouragement to ­artists.”

One of the key benefits in the long term, he says, is how it will affect future generations.

“It will give the opportunity for young artists to be educated about all the work of those who came before them, and help them to continue to forge the same paths,” he says.

“I also think that once this archive is fully functional, it will be very clear that the UAE has a rich history that goes way beyond what people see today.

“The international status we have today, with art fairs and biennales that people come from all over the world to see, is all thanks to the foundations put in place by the Emirates Fine Arts Society and the artists involved with it.

“This archive is a way of documenting their efforts and keeping them safe for the future.”

Visit www.uaeartarchive.ae for more information



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United: Rashford (2', 20'), Fellaini (26'), Mkhitaryan (67'), Martial (72')

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown


The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.


The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]


How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday


The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

The low down on MPS

What is myofascial pain syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome refers to pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissue. MPS is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (­connective tissue that covers the muscles, which develops knots, also known as trigger points).

What are trigger points?

Trigger points are irritable knots in the soft ­tissue that covers muscle tissue. Through injury or overuse, muscle fibres contract as a reactive and protective measure, creating tension in the form of hard and, palpable nodules. Overuse and ­sustained posture are the main culprits in developing ­trigger points.

What is myofascial or trigger-point release?

Releasing these nodules requires a hands-on technique that involves applying gentle ­sustained pressure to release muscular shortness and tightness. This eliminates restrictions in ­connective tissue in orderto restore motion and alleviate pain. ­Therapy balls have proven effective at causing enough commotion in the tissue, prompting the release of these hard knots.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8