"I don't like to stick to one way of expression," says Hassan Sharif, at his studio in Dubai.
"I don't like to stick to one way of expression," says Hassan Sharif, at his studio in Dubai.

Breaking down objects earns solo exhibit for Emirati artist

DUBAI // Whenever Hassan Sharif sees common objects, say a bundle of cotton, pages of a newspaper or an aluminium tray, he can't help but manipulate them into pieces of art.

But first he has to destroy them.

"I cut, break and tie up the objects, suppressing and removing their functionality," said the 60-year-old artist.

Holding a cotton ball wrapped with metallic wire as an example, he explains: "The innocence of this cotton is pierced and taken away by the reality of this wire."

The cotton balls are just one aspect of Mr Sharif's Experiments and Objects exhibition, which is on at the Qasr al Hosn Cultural Quarter Hall in Abu Dhabi until June 17.

The artist's first solo exhibition has been organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. The authority plans to launch a book on his works from 1973 to 2011 during the Venice Biennale, which opens to the public tomorrow.

Other pieces of art included newspapers wrapped around wires and cut into smaller pieces, done as Mr Hassan's way of "silencing" the cacophony of the media world.

"It is my way of feeling like I have some control over what is being said and done," he said.

Mr Sharif, from Dubai, is widely acknowledged as one of the first Emiratis to awaken the contemporary art scene in the UAE and is one of the founding fathers of the Emirates Fine Arts Society, which was established in 1980. He has had numerous exhibitions across the UAE as well as abroad.

"I don't like to stick to one way of expression," he said. "Sometimes I paint, sometimes I write and sometimes I simply sit back and contemplate."

Mr Sharif's journey into the art world began in the 1970s with caricatures commenting on everything from social life to the political issues of his home country and the region.

In one of his early caricatures he drew a street with holes in it and a mother searching for her child, who had become lost in one of those holes.

"There was always some sort of construction going and it felt endless and so I poked fun at it and at the same time drew attention to it through my caricatures," he said.

From the plight of the working man, to the ever-elusive dreams of "pan-Arabism", Mr Hassan tackled a variety of themes, some quite controversial, through his caricatures.

"Even erotic themes were allowed," he said. "I could comment on anything."

Watching the changes taking place in the region has inspired Mr Hassan further. He plans to collect hundreds of his caricatures, which were printed in newspapers, with the aim of publishing them in a book by end of the year. He believes the old drawings will stand up, having come during the age of Pan-Arabism as led by Egypt's second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

"I am not inspired to draw any new ones, as the ones drawn decades ago still apply today," he said. "The same tyrants are refusing to leave their thrones, and the youth are still dreaming of a nation they can be proud of and have a say in."

One of Mr Sharif's secret places of inspiration is an encyclopaedia, which he browses for ideas and themes. His latest find is the "sand dollar", or sea cookie, related to sea urchins.

"When I am done experimenting with this image, it will have multiple meanings," said Mr Hassan. "To me, it is the act of trying to capture it and manipulate it that I enjoy the most."

The artist never married, admitting he would have made a "bad husband and father".

"I am focused too much on my self and my art," he said. "I can't really give much of myself to anyone else."

Despite his introvert tendencies, he doesn't work far from family, particularly his brother, Hussain Sharif, who is also an artist in the same experimental and contemporary field.

Hussain's trademark is placing faces on the most unlikely of objects, such as rows of tin cans. The brothers' careers are managed by a third brother, Abdul Raheem Sharif.

"I don't help out with the works of Hassan and Hussain because they are my brothers," said Mr Abdul Raheem. "Not at all. It is because I believe in their art as well as the art of many others."

In 2007, Abdul Raheem transformed one of his houses in Dubai into the Flying House gallery, a private non-profit institution set up to promote contemporary Emirati artists.

"This art scene in the UAE has really grown and matured into its own form and identity," said Mr Abdul Raheem.

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Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Transmission: seven-speed automatic

Power: 400hp

Torque: 560Nm

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On sale: now

Asia Cup Qualifier

Venue: Kuala Lumpur

Result: Winners play at Asia Cup in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in September


Wed Aug 29: Malaysia v Hong Kong, Nepal v Oman, UAE v Singapore

Thu Aug 30: UAE v Nepal, Hong Kong v Singapore, Malaysia v Oman

Sat Sep 1: UAE v Hong Kong, Oman v Singapore, Malaysia v Nepal

Sun Sep 2: Hong Kong v Oman, Malaysia v UAE, Nepal v Singapore

Tue Sep 4: Malaysia v Singapore, UAE v Oman, Nepal v Hong Kong

Thu Sep 6: Final


Asia Cup

Venue: Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Schedule: Sep 15-28

Teams: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, plus the winner of the Qualifier

How to help

Donate towards food and a flight by transferring money to this registered charity's account.

Account name: Dar Al Ber Society

Account Number: 11 530 734

IBAN: AE 9805 000 000 000 11 530 734

Bank Name: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

To ensure that your contribution reaches these people, please send the copy of deposit/transfer receipt to: juhi.khan@daralber.ae


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Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

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Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Men’s squad: Faisal Al Ketbi, Omar Al Fadhli, Zayed Al Kathiri, Thiab Al Nuaimi, Khaled Al Shehhi, Mohamed Ali Al Suwaidi, Farraj Khaled Al Awlaqi, Muhammad Al Ameri, Mahdi Al Awlaqi, Saeed Al Qubaisi, Abdullah Al Qubaisi and Hazaa Farhan

Women's squad: Hamda Al Shekheili, Shouq Al Dhanhani, Balqis Abdullah, Sharifa Al Namani, Asma Al Hosani, Maitha Sultan, Bashayer Al Matrooshi, Maha Al Hanaei, Shamma Al Kalbani, Haya Al Jahuri, Mahra Mahfouz, Marwa Al Hosani, Tasneem Al Jahoori and Maryam Al Amri

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When: The one-off Test starts on Friday, May 11
What time: Each day’s play is scheduled to start at 2pm UAE time.
TV: The match will be broadcast on OSN Sports Cricket HD. Subscribers to the channel can also stream the action live on OSN Play.

Biggest applause

Asked to rate Boris Johnson's leadership out of 10, Mr Sunak awarded a full 10 for delivering Brexit — remarks that earned him his biggest round of applause of the night. "My views are clear, when he was great he was great and it got to a point where we need to move forward. In delivering a solution to Brexit and winning an election that's a 10/10 - you've got to give the guy credit for that, no-one else could probably have done that."

Other ways to buy used products in the UAE

UAE insurance firm Al Wathba National Insurance Company (AWNIC) last year launched an e-commerce website with a facility enabling users to buy car wrecks.

Bidders and potential buyers register on the online salvage car auction portal to view vehicles, review condition reports, or arrange physical surveys, and then start bidding for motors they plan to restore or harvest for parts.

Physical salvage car auctions are a common method for insurers around the world to move on heavily damaged vehicles, but AWNIC is one of the few UAE insurers to offer such services online.

For cars and less sizeable items such as bicycles and furniture, Dubizzle is arguably the best-known marketplace for pre-loved.

Founded in 2005, in recent years it has been joined by a plethora of Facebook community pages for shifting used goods, including Abu Dhabi Marketplace, Flea Market UAE and Arabian Ranches Souq Market while sites such as The Luxury Closet and Riot deal largely in second-hand fashion.

At the high-end of the pre-used spectrum, resellers such as Timepiece360.ae, WatchBox Middle East and Watches Market Dubai deal in authenticated second-hand luxury timepieces from brands such as Rolex, Hublot and Tag Heuer, with a warranty.

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Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
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Director: Zoya Akhtar
Producer: Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi​​​​​​​
Rating: 4/5 stars

The US Congress, explained

- US Congress is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and Senate

- 435 members make up the House, and 100 in the Senate

- A party needs control of 218 seats to have a majority in the House

- In the Senate, a party needs to hold 51 seats for control

- In the event of a 50-50 split, the vice president's party retains power in the Senate

How to wear a kandura


  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester


  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying

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