16th St exhibition showcases Dubai Women's College students' skills

College women are showing off their skills in photography, graphic design and film production at an exhibition in Dubai.

From left, Asma Obaid, Maitha al Haddad, Maryam Sayed, Salma al Saadi, Mirah Ahmed and Fatma al Bastaki during the opening of the exhibition at Dubai Women's College. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Emirati college women showed yesterday that photography, graphic design and film production skills are right up their street with a new exhibition.

Sixteen applied communications students from Dubai Women's College (DWC) put on the exhibition as their final project.

Inaugurating the event, titled "16th St", was Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed, who walked through the various "streets" that showcased the students' artwork. The exhibition resembled roadworks containing walls painted with graffiti, a construction area and a highway street.

"We have chosen the name to be a street number as it is the theme of our exhibition," said Alia al Shamlan, the social media co-ordinator of the project. "The street resembles the road of our lives that will hopefully lead us to success."

The idea behind the exhibition was to create an atmosphere that reflects the students' personalities.

"The students created a modern-like exhibition which relates to the public," said Dr Hanan Hairab, the media department chair at the college.

"Each student had her own street, and the whole environment was designed to get people engaged when they visit, unlike the formal atmosphere in exhibitions."

During the event, a documentary titled "Anonymous Heroes" was screened, about firefighters. The producer sought to highlight an often forgotten part of society.

"The reason we did a documentary about firefighters is the fact that I don't think there are movies that have been produced about real firefighters," said Salma al Saadi, the project's media relations co-ordinator.

"It was really interesting because we have been filming in real stations, and the firefighters were really co-operative and gave us permission to go in and film."

The movie took about six weeks from conception to production, Ms al Saadi said, adding that she hopes to participate in film festivals in the UAE soon.

The director of Dubai Women's College, Dr Howard Reed, encouraged students to continue their creativity and show what they have learned at college.

"DWC Applied Communications graduates are among the most creative young Emiratis, and the college is very proud to host the annual exhibition of their collective creations," he said in a statement.

Some of the artwork showcased at the exhibition has received international and national awards, including at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival and the Gulf Film Festival. One such movie being shown at the event is titled Maher Al Mehra.

The student Maitha Hamdan, 23, produced a documentary alongside three of her classmates that was awarded the Best Idea suggested in Gulf Film Festival 2010, under the short student documentary category. The movie tackled the high cost of the dowry, and ways to solve the matter in UAE society.

Through their research, students have come across some unusual circumstances.

"We heard stories that there are some women who pay the dowry to their soon-to-be husbands," said Ms Hamdan, who is also showcasing a number of horror movies at the exhibition. "What happens is that when the bride's family ask for a normal dowry and the groom family doesn't have it, if the bride wants the husband she goes and gives him the money without her family knowing what she has done."

Students said they were now equipped with the knowledge to join the workforce. However, their professor said the route to employment might not be so easy.

"The media industry is still growing, and the college is trying to meet the demands the industry is asking for," said Raja Abu Jaber, a professor of public relations and journalism. "However, they are ready to join a challenging industry as we expose them to so many different projects."

The event continues until May 24. Screening times are 2pm, 5pm and 8 pm.