Djokovic endorses Emirati-inspired design of tennis trophy

Alya Al Zaabi, 22, a design graduate from Zayed University, was selected to design the Mubadala World Tennis Championship trophy after her interpretation of it as an Emirati "thorn bracelet" won over organisers.

Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates-December 21, 2011:    Alya Ebrahim  Al Zaabi, an Emirati student who has designed the trophy for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship pose during the interview in Ras Al Khaimah . (  Satish Kumar / The National )
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ABU DHABI // A gold bracelet tucked away in the jewellery box of an Emirati grandmother inspired the design of the trophy that will be presented at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in the capital this month.

Alya Al Zaabi, 22, a design graduate from Zayed University was selected to design it after her interpretation of the trophy as an Emirati "thorn bracelet" won over organisers.

The design competition, held last month, asked Emiratis to create a trophy that would reflect the national culture.

"I was trying to create a design that would represent my traditions but also something that would relate to the event," she said.

"That was when I went through the jewellery box and found this gold bracelet, which has been worn by our women for a long time, but only on occasions like a wedding or Eid.

"The bracelet represents a special occasion, achievement and joy which are the same emotions a winner of the championship will experience on that day."

Ms Al Zaabi's design was chosen out of 22 entries for its unique quality and the way it captures the local culture, said Marco Sosa, the assistant professor of Interior Design at Zayed University.

"What made Alya's design a standout was that it was very ambitious and she produced it out of something traditional," said Mr Sosa, who helped choose the winning design.

"She made the model by cutting out inverted cones of paper, joined them together to look like a snake and then with the help of Photoshop, superimposed it on an image of (Rafael) Nadal."

Students had to create designs that could be developed into a trophy using the hand-blown glass technique.

Filip Simek, the area manager for glass company Lasvit, which worked to bring the trophy to life, said the winning design needed to be something that could be made of glass. "We wanted to support the local design community with this competition," said Mr Simek. "So the requirements for making the trophy had to include a local touch but it had to be possible to create it using the given technology, too."

Ms Al Zaabi said competitions like these give emerging artists a good platform to showcase their talents. "People get to know us and our work," she said. "Like this trophy will be seen by thousands of people who come for the championships as well as others all over the world."

The young artist has already found an admirer of her work in the world's number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, who was the first to see the trophy.

"Yes, I met Djokovic this week," said Ms Al Zaabi. "He said he liked my idea and that it went very well with the sentiments he felt during competitions.

"Seeing all that he has achieved I felt, like, 'yes!' - I too can have the same success in my career."