The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival has opened with a spectacular fireworks display set against the backdrop of the historic Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village.
The month-long event will display work from the UAE’s up-and-coming and established artists and was inaugurated by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
Artwork is on display at the village, where a labyrinth of outdoor exhibition aisles will show work from local and international artists until March 31.
In the 10th year of the exhibition it is the largest yet, spread across three locations in the Emirate.
“Art unites people across borders and brings positivity and hope to the community,” Sheikh Saud said.
“In Ras Al Khaimah, one of the region’s oldest cultural destinations with a proud legacy of traditional arts, we are focused on promoting the artistic pursuits of our community.”
In addition to the heritage village, two satellite exhibitions will be open to display artwork at the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais, and Al Mariam Open Park on Al Marjan Island.
The outdoor exhibition of art, photography and sculpture is hosted by the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research and is presenting work from more than 150 artists from 45 countries.
It will include a programme of film screenings, workshops, guided tours and other events held across the festival’s various locations.
Emirati artists participating this year include Yousef Al Zaabi and Abdullah Lutfi, while among event highlights is a weekend of outdoor cinema and indoor film screenings.
New partnerships with the NYUAD Art Gallery and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have also been forged to further promote international art installations during the festival.
Abdulla Lutfi is an autistic artist displaying work inspired by the rapid change the region has encountered.
“I wanted to show the ever-changing skyline of the UAE and depict how children played, back in the days when there were no screens and in contrast to now,” he said.
After I finished my high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as there were few options for adults on the spectrum.
"My mother found out about an art studio for adults with disabilities and my life changed.
“I chose art as my career option as this is what I did even before I learnt to speak.
“Art is my passion.”
On Friday, February 18 the ‘Collaboration Weekend’ will be the first in a series of walking tours of Old Ras Al Khaimah’s food and heritage sites.
Guided tours will take place between 5pm and 7pm, starting at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salim Al Qasimi Mosque.
Meanwhile, a pet friendly weekend will begin on Saturday, February 19 with a special obstacle activity for dogs between 1pm and 2pm and a pet fashion show from 2pm.
A cultural weekend on Friday, February 25 includes an immersive local theatre performance from the National Theatre of Ras Al Khaimah between 6pm and 7pm.
“We are honoured to have such a prestigious line-up of artists participating with us again this year, with the talent on display reflecting how the festival is truly becoming a destination for regional and international talent,” festival director Suqrat bin Bisher said.