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Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival showcases varities of nature-themed artworks

Sheikha Hana bint Juma Al Majid, wife of the Ras Al Khaimah Ruler, presents items from her personal collection for exhibition at the cultural event, to show her appreciation for the efforts and participation of several embassies

The 2023 Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) has begun and, after a dazzling opening ceremony on Friday, immersive and striking outdoor displays of creative works from more than 40 nationalities are open to all, under this year’s theme of ‘Nature’, and set against the striking backdrop of the 17th century pearling village, Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village.

To show her appreciation for the contribution of all the embassies participating at RAKFAF and for their efforts across the UAE, as well as for the participation of local and visiting artists, Sheikha Hana bint Juma Al Majid, wife of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, has graciously presented items from her personal collection for exhibition at the iconic cultural event.

The personal items presented by Her Highness include gold, diamond and pearl jewelry, along with a traditional, hand-painted dress and an antique wooden chest.

“Art is more than paintings. Art brings people together by creating a common language, crossing borders and without prejudice, to forge connections in the most respectful way. Art extends us an opportunity to learn about the personality of the artist while offering a window into their culture and history. I don’t have a favorite piece of art as each one brings back a treasured memory and evokes a particular nostalgia,” Her Highness stated.

“My vision for Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival is that it continues to grow and attract more international artist participation, while also retaining the warm, welcoming atmosphere created every year by Al Jazeera Al Hamra’s local community. More than a festival, RAKFAF is a celebration of Ras Al Khaimah’s culture and heritage,” added Her Highness.

The festival will also feature local artists such as Emiratis Hend Rashed, Reem Al Shamsi, and Bahraini artist Hanadi Al Ghanim, all of whom depict nature through their individual ideas.

In addition, the festival will feature distinct exhibitions from five countries - the United States, Korea, France, Netherlands and Croatia – and the artworks of seventeen school students.

Special exhibitions at RAKFAF

U.S. Honorary Guest Artist and Curator Hannah Hillebrand’s love for capturing beauty shots of nature started at an early age. She feels that the natural environment is the common factor that all humankind shares, with no boundaries or borders. Hannah’s photographs will offer visitors a glimpse into her world and she hopes to inspire others to see the planet as a wondrous place.

H.E. Sean Murphy, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said: “On behalf of the United States Mission to the UAE, I commend the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival for offering such an important platform for showcasing art, preserving heritage and promoting cross-cultural understanding. The U.S. Mission to the UAE is proud to partner with the Al Qasimi Foundation and American Voices to bring American artists to RAKFAF, who are joining many talented artists from the UAE and from around the world. With its focus on nature, this year’s festival inspires awareness of our relationship with our planet and the importance of sustainability efforts – a key theme with the UAE hosting COP28. Congratulations to RAKFAF and to all artists participating in the festival for creating a truly unique and inspiring event.”

With over 20 years of experience in the design industry, Dutch curator Margriet Vollenberg, founder of Organisation in Design, in partnership with the Netherlands Embassy presents ‘The Nature of Dutch Design’, an exhibition that shows versatile designs displayed by three artist-designers who stay very close to their own nature while creating their work.

H.E. Lody Embrechts, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in UAE remarked: “What a privilege to experience the nature of Dutch Design translated into the RAK landscape, seeing the works of Timothy van Oorschot, Milla Novo and Ruben van Megen in conversation with this beautiful heritage site and engaging with local as well as foreign audiences. The festival has gone from strength to strength over the years and I wish to applaud the team of the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research for creating such a platform for emerging and established artists to foster cultural exchanges and discuss the theme of Nature – at large.”

In collaboration with the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Dubai, Curator Myunghye Rye, representing the Korean-UAE Arts and Content Association (KUACA), exhibits the creative works of eight talented artists focusing on the recovery of human senses following the years of pandemic restrictions.

French curator and photographer Mathilde Magnier-Rebate has been a resident of the UAE since 2014 and has witnessed a decade of economic, social and environmental development in the country. Through her photographs, Magnier documents the impact of the nation’s rapid transformation on traditional Emirati landscapes, ecosystems and how much the changes have affected the relationship between people and their natural habitat. Her works are made possible courtesy of the Consulate General of France in Dubai.

A distinct exhibition reflecting the natural environment of Croatia will also be on display.

RAKFAF presents the Film Grant winners

Every year, the Al Qasimi Foundation Film Grants provide start-up funding (AED25,000) to create short films on topics relevant to the United Arab Emirates and broader Gulf region. Grants are awarded annually through a competitive application process and the resulting films are premiered at the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival the following year.

In the 2023 RAKFAF Artists Night held last Thursday, two Emiratis won accolades for their exceptional films created from the grant. Emirati film-maker Hamad Al Hamadi, from Ras Al Khaimah, produced the film ‘Prayer of Hope’ based on true events and stories, including the presence of nurses from outside the Gulf or Arab region working in the healthcare industry due to the lack of possibilities in their home countries at the time. It shows the tolerance of the people of the region and the integration of this group into society from then until now.

With diverse film producing experiences, Emirati film producer Nora Bensahli’s film ‘United but Divided’ is a captured performance on a theater stage, with two artists dancing over the song ”Synth Grabber,” created by three Emirati siblings. The message behind the film is that people co-exist, cooperate and are generally united but live separately in various societies and social bubbles.

Thematic weekends for families

The festival will host a variety of family friendly cultural experiences and fun activities during dedicated weekends, including one for pets, family and community, and culture. Parents can also sign up with their children for exciting arts and crafts workshops that creatively apply the nature theme. From guided tours of Al Jazeera Al Hamra Heritage Village, Canine Couture and talent show, pup artwork tours, contemporary art workshops, gastronomic indulgence with Antica Australis, outdoor film screenings to our first-ever Family Photo Scavenger Hunt - you name it, RAKFAF has it all! For more details visit:


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