Your guide to Al Hai: Downtown's pop-up electric art gallery
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Between January 7 and January 30, 2021 Al Hai will be lighting up Dubai Downtown’s Emaar Boulevard in a dramatic display of alfresco electric art.
It’s one of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) central cultural events and was conceived in collaboration with esteemed partner, Dubai Culture.
Al Hai – DSF Lighting District is a network of illuminated installations that tell a composite story of Emirati heritage, with grand themes spelled out in buzzing bulbs and sculptures crafted from sustainable materials.
The gallery-under-the-stars is segmented into distinctly decorated districts and is the work of seven talented Emirati and UAE-based artists and architects.
If you rock down to this electric avenue, you’ll be able to see creations from architect and designer Raghad Al-Ali — a graduate of the American University of Sharjah, who finds inspiration in space choreography and the design of nature. Al-Ali has been nominated for multiple awards and has had work showcased in leading regional exhibitions.
Local talent Rowdah Alsayeg has already realised her childhood dream of performing a TedTalk, this latest artistic adventure is helping to illuminate another side to her creativity.
Yara Manla is a UAE-base architect and designer that seeks out exposure to different cultures. After growing up in Dubai, traveling prolifically and studying abroad she’s already plugged into a truly international spectrum to draw inspiration from.
Ahmed Geaiss is an award-recognised multimedia designer with an eye for telling stories. His trademark minimalistic style, and hunger to experiment with emerging tech makes him a homegrown future star that’s worth keeping eyes on.
Emirati, Fatima Alawadhi is an architect that has already made some big contributions to Dubai’s construction portfolio. And when she’s not helping sculpt iconic skylines, she likes to captivate audiences through experimental, dynamic, art exhibits.
Abdullah Khouri is another architect with numerous accolades and exhibitions under his belt, and with his position on the board of the American Institute of Architectural Students, he’s also responsible for helping shape the next generation of world-builders.
Eman Al Rahma is a local calligraphy artist that creates intricate visual art across both digital and real world spaces such as murals and jewelry. Al Rahma creates three dimensional contexts, routed in tradition, culture and pride that are also universally eye-catching works of aesthetic.
Inside the exhibits
The majlis is the communal room in Emirati houses that hosts family, friends and guests. This eye-catching artwork, illuminates the landscape of the traditional majlis with lit coffee tables, coffee cups and cushions.
A traditional courtyard, that represents the heart of an Emirati household. Anchored by an illuminated ghaf tree, suspended swing and birds overhead, this colourful art piece will give a sense of recreational space.
The neighbourhood convenience store. This construction beautifully replicates one of these Arabian communal hubs with daintily lit shelves and bottles.
The Mosque, or ‘Masjid’ is a community nexus point, where the faithful gather for prayer every day. Here you can take a spiritual journey through the grand arches that represent a mihrab, indicating Qibla — the direction of Kaaba, the building at the centre of Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram.
Sikkas are the network of interlacing alleyways that connect houses in a traditional Emirati neighbourhood. This installation describes the Sikka experience via a pathway punctuated by light-reflecting birds placed on top of the light rods.
A ‘saha’ is the name given to the play space between Sikkas. This is a much larger concept than the others represnted in Al Hai, situated on the opposite side of the street. This series of experential nodes will offer exciting interactive games.
There are so many reasons to take a walk on the light side of Emaar Boulevard this January. And it’s conveniently located just a short distance away from one of the best places to take advantage of the DSF retail bargains, The Dubai Mall.