Documentaries, workshops and more, there’s plenty to keep culture vultures busy in Dubai…

1. Course: Introduction to Writing about Art: Theory and Methodology

Have you ever wanted to learn how to be an art critic? Understanding the nuance of contemporary visual art is almost like learning a new language. Taking it a step further and expressing that in writing is a very specific skill, but is a vital contribution to any art ecosystem. This course made up of both lectures and practical writing exercises will present an overview of the history of art writing and criticism and one-on-one guidance. Led by Laura Egerton, an established curator and writer, the course is hosted by Art Experts+ and costs Dhs1,460 (approx).

Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, Sun and Mon 6.30pm to 10pm, Sun April 8 and Mon April 9, Dhs1460. Tel: (056) 1156871. Taxi: Alserkal Avenue.

2. Festival: -ing Creative Festival

At the fourth edition of -ing, senior product designers from Instagram and Google as well as the head of story animation from Dreamworks are just a few of the professionals giving workshops and lectures on how to make it in the creative industry. This festival brings together animators, graphic designers and all those interested in the digital design ecosystem that directs so much of the information we process in today’s communication era. From personal branding to calligraphy, fashion design, sustainability and art, there is something for all.

Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai, 8.30am to 9.30pm, Weds April 11 to Fri April 13, from Dhs770. Tel: (055) 9020580. Taxi: d3.

3. Event: World Art Dubai

If you’re looking for original art made in the region then the Middle East’s only affordable art fair is a good place to start. Whereas mainstream art fairs offer booths to well-established galleries (with prices to match), this event gives space to individual artists as well as galleries. Visitors will find more than 4,000 artworks starting from Dhs370. It’s also a fun day out for the whole family with interactive workshops, talks and numerous outdoor activations, complemented by music and food trucks for all to enjoy.

World Trade Centre, Dubai, 2pm to 9pm, Weds April 18 to Sun April 22, Dhs20. Tel: (04) 308 6243. Taxi: World Trade Centre.

4. Exhibition: Iran / Africa

Featuring some of the best-known names in contemporary African and Iranian art, this exhibition presents works from the private collection of Farhad Bakhtiar and is curated by Fereydoun Ave. Although Iranian and African art are rarely compared, there are fascinating parallels drawn in this show. Don’t miss the pop photography of Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj juxtaposed with the calligraphic portraiture from Iranian Shirin Neshat, or the wide-eyes that link the portraits of Jeoffrey Mukasa from Uganda with those by Shideh Tami, from Iran.

Total Arts at the Courtyard, 4B Street, Al Quoz, Sat to Thur 10 am to 6pm, until April 30. Tel: (04) 3475050 Taxi: behind Alserkal Avenue.

5. Screening: I Am Not Your Negro

Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary about US writer James Baldwin’s personal memories of his three murdered civil rights friends Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, and his reflections on his own painful experiences as a black American. Narrated by Samuel L Jackson, it is a disturbing essay about the reality of the lives of African Americans. Hosted by Cinema Akil, this is the regional premiere of the film and entrance is free, so it’s well worth the drive to Abu Dhabi. First-come-first-seated policy applies.

Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 7.30pm, Tuesday April 24, free. Tel: (058) 5246362. Taxi: Manarat Al Saadiyat.

6. Exhibition: Testimonies Of Existence

Paul Guiragossian is one of the region’s best loved painters and he made a huge impact on contemporary art practice. This year marks the 25th anniversary of his passing and Barjeel Art Foundation is celebrating that with an exhibition of seminal artworks gathered from prominent collectors in the UAE. Although he was born in 1926, Guiragossian’s life story is one of forced migration and exile. These themes are still poignant in today’s society, giving this exhibition an extra layer of relevance.

Level Two Maraya Art Centre, Al Qasba, Sharjah, Sat to Thur 10am to 10pm, Fri 4pm to 10pm, until April 28. Tel: (06) 556 6555. Taxi: Al Qasba, Sharjah.

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Images: Supplied

Words: Anna Seaman.
Anna is an arts and culture specialist in the UAE, and a regular contributor to What’s On. Find out more at