"The best way to preserve a tradition is to make it adapt to the current time," says Nasser Al Salem. (Sarah Dea / The National)
"The best way to preserve a tradition is to make it adapt to the current time," says Nasser Al Salem. (Sarah Dea / The National)

We must teach traditional arts so they are not lost



In my local sewing store, you can get a glimpse of talents that are too often hidden. There are people working away creating abaya designs, embroidering pillowcases and creating pieces of art that are a mix of tradition and modern practicality.

This is the kind of craft that can win the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition.

Yet these arts were once practised in everyday life around the Muslim world. From carpetmaking to stylised lace work and calligraphy, there used to be many artisans who kept the flow of beauty, culture and tradition alive. They also kept society in check by reminding them of their traditions and their value.

One of the most recent examples of this is the six-storey mural by French-Tunisian "calligrafitti" artist eL Seed in Sharjah. At first glimpse, one is dazzled by the Arabic words that swirl up across a building. Then it poses the question: Can you read it? Do you understand? The words – from the Emirati poem Keyif Memsakum attributed to Ahmed Bu Sineeda – laments how local culture is disappearing like birds in flight.

This became painfully evident when I visited the Faith and Worship exhibit at Emirates Palace in 2009. There, I saw headscarves with intricate embroidered flowers in shimmery golden threads. I then realised that these were the origin of the floral prints worn by Turkish women and were once hand-sewed. Seeing them, I felt a sense of loss and sadness.

"The best way to preserve a tradition is to make it adapt to the current time. This way, it will be appreciated and understood in the way that it was meant to be," said Nasser Al Salem, whose work Kul, was the winner of the 2013 Jameel Prize.

After seeing this work and the amazement and interest that it inspired in children, I began to wonder why this isn’t taught in schools. There are many calligraphers in the UAE and across this region, yet Islamic arts are so often absent in school curriculums.

Many arts that form part of the Islamic tradition use transferable skills. When I was struggling to get my child to wrap her head around some mathematical concepts, I found a solution by looking at the four steps of making zakhrafah. These are the floral prints that are seen on the Iranian tiles used in some mosques and can also be found in Qurans.

It is possible to create a beautiful pattern by drawing squares, triangles and then circles. One can use square roots, cubes and radius and diameter equations to find the best proportions.

The same goes for sewing – if you understand how many loops are needed, where to place them, and how much thread and time is necessary. However, the context must be created. This is when the traditions of art come in.

Among Emirati traditions is zari – the addition of gold and silver thread to finely woven netting that is worn on special occasions. Today, these have been replaced with stickers or glitter glue that is ruined after a few washes.

My daughter recently took up weaving on a traditional loom, and she works on this every day. She learnt at a class given by Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah. These two sessions weren’t enough. To improve, she needs time, a teacher and a little competition. This is where schools could come in and help keep a tradition current.

One artist who has excelled in innovating around tradition is Faig Ahmed. His Jameel Prize-winning carpet, Pixelated Tradition, is a play on computer- generated images and Azerbaijani carpet making.

The carpet begins in a traditional way, but then it becomes pixelated, as if the upper portion is still downloading on to a computer screen. But the most amazing thing is that, if you take a photographof it in a certain way, the completed image appears. Who needs to learn computer code if you can do that?

Maryam Ismail is a sociologist and teacher who divides her time between the US and the UAE

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 14

Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170, 460ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 3279 mAh, up to 20h video, 16h streaming video, 80h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,399 / Dh3,799 / Dh4,649

Results

3pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Dirt) 1,400m, Winner: Lancienegaboulevard, Adrie de Vries (jockey), Fawzi Nass (trainer).

3.35pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Turf) 1,600m, Winner: Al Mukhtar Star, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass.

4.10pm: Handicap Dh165,000 (D) 2,000m, Winner: Gundogdu, Xavier Ziani, Salem bin Ghadayer.

4.45pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Speedy Move, Sean Kirrane, Satish Seemar.

5.20pm: Handicap Dh185,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Moqarrar, Dane O’Neill, Erwan Charpy.

5.55pm: Handicap Dh175,000 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Dolman, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

Red Sparrow

Dir: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Egerton, Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons

Three stars

How to tell if your child is being bullied at school

Sudden change in behaviour or displays higher levels of stress or anxiety

Shows signs of depression or isolation

Ability to sleep well diminishes

Academic performance begins to deteriorate

Changes in eating habits

Struggles to concentrate

Refuses to go to school

Behaviour changes and is aggressive towards siblings

Begins to use language they do not normally use

In numbers

Number of Chinese tourists coming to UAE in 2017 was... 1.3m

Alibaba’s new ‘Tech Town’  in Dubai is worth... $600m

China’s investment in the MIddle East in 2016 was... $29.5bn

The world’s most valuable start-up in 2018, TikTok, is valued at... $75bn

Boost to the UAE economy of 5G connectivity will be... $269bn 

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

The Gandhi Murder
  • 71 - Years since the death of MK Gandhi, also christened India's Father of the Nation
  • 34 - Nationalities featured in the film The Gandhi Murder
  • 7 - million dollars, the film's budget 
Pox that threatens the Middle East's native species

Camelpox

Caused by a virus related to the one that causes human smallpox, camelpox typically causes fever, swelling of lymph nodes and skin lesions in camels aged over three, but the animal usually recovers after a month or so. Younger animals may develop a more acute form that causes internal lesions and diarrhoea, and is often fatal, especially when secondary infections result. It is found across the Middle East as well as in parts of Asia, Africa, Russia and India.

Falconpox

Falconpox can cause a variety of types of lesions, which can affect, for example, the eyelids, feet and the areas above and below the beak. It is a problem among captive falcons and is one of many types of avian pox or avipox diseases that together affect dozens of bird species across the world. Among the other forms are pigeonpox, turkeypox, starlingpox and canarypox. Avipox viruses are spread by mosquitoes and direct bird-to-bird contact.

Houbarapox

Houbarapox is, like falconpox, one of the many forms of avipox diseases. It exists in various forms, with a type that causes skin lesions being least likely to result in death. Other forms cause more severe lesions, including internal lesions, and are more likely to kill the bird, often because secondary infections develop. This summer the CVRL reported an outbreak of pox in houbaras after rains in spring led to an increase in mosquito numbers.

Wednesday's results

Finland 3-0 Armenia
Faroes Islands 1-0 Malta
Sweden 1-1 Spain
Gibraltar 2-3 Georgia
Romania 1-1 Norway
Greece 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Liechtenstein 0-5 Italy
Switzerland 2-0 Rep of Ireland
Israel 3-1 Latvia

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Day 3, Dubai Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Lahiru Gamage, the Sri Lanka pace bowler, has had to play a lot of cricket to earn a shot at the top level. The 29-year-old debutant first played a first-class game 11 years ago. His first Test wicket was one to savour, bowling Pakistan opener Shan Masood through the gate. It set the rot in motion for Pakistan’s batting.

Stat of the day – 73 Haris Sohail took 73 balls to hit a boundary. Which is a peculiar quirk, given the aggressive intent he showed from the off. Pakistan’s batsmen were implored to attack Rangana Herath after their implosion against his left-arm spin in Abu Dhabi. Haris did his best to oblige, smacking the second ball he faced for a huge straight six.

The verdict One year ago, when Pakistan played their first day-night Test at this ground, they held a 222-run lead over West Indies on first innings. The away side still pushed their hosts relatively close on the final night. With the opposite almost exactly the case this time around, Pakistan still have to hope they can salvage a win from somewhere.

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

The biog

Name: Mohammed Imtiaz

From: Gujranwala, Pakistan

Arrived in the UAE: 1976

Favourite clothes to make: Suit

Cost of a hand-made suit: From Dh550

 

'The Sky is Everywhere'

Director:Josephine Decker

Stars:Grace Kaufman, Pico Alexander, Jacques Colimon

Rating:2/5

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now