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Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Singapore Diary - Library Finds at the National Library


Library Finds exhibition is on the ground floor of the National Library Building in Singapore. I'm a sucker for ephemeral objects and I loved this display which included posters, magazines, letters and even restaurant menus.

I mentioned in my previous post that my visit to Singapore's National Library made me think of the upcoming Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, and I hope the library will have a section dedicated to ephemera and pop culture from the country and from the surrounding region.


Movies, Posters and Flyers



Hong Kong Novella Magazines



Old Menus (from Raffles Hotel, old curise liners and restaurants)

Remittance Letters

Tamil Drama and Temple Publications

All photos © Hind Mezaina.


Singapore Diary - Celluloid Void: The Lost Films of Southeast Asia at the National Library


The National Library Board in Singapore was establised in 1995, but its origins date back to the 1820s when Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore, proposed the idea of establishing a public library. The current National Library Building is the headquarters of the National Library Board, and can be found on Victoria Street, its location since 2005.

During my taxi rides across the city, I noticed ads for exhbitions at library. When I visited the website, the first exhibition I found listed was titled "Celluloid Void: The Lost Films of Southeast Asia" which made me want to visit right away.

The library also made me think of what kind of programming and exhibitions will the upcoming Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Library host. After visiting Singapore's National Library, I have huge expectations for the one that will open in Dubai, and I hope and pray they it will give importance to archival material.

Needles to say, I loved the Celluloid Void exhibition and would've been happy if it was an even bigger exhibition.  Made me wonder how many unknown or lost films are there from the the Middle East.


The exhibition was organised by the Asian Film Archive is is part of the National Library.

'CELLULOID VOID: The Lost Films of Southeast Asia' invites audiences to re-acquaint and re-engage with eight Southeast Asian films that have been lost through the passage of time.

Featuring important films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the exhibition highlights the cultural value and historical context of these works, and presents their remnants through archival materials.

By reawakening the public consciousness to these lost films, this exhibition emphasises the importance of film preservation and bridges the cognitive gap created by the void in the celluloid. More than just awakening nostalgia, audiences have the opportunity to evoke their imagination and initiate re-interpretations from the available fragments of the films.

The damage to the films may be irreparable, but that which can be imagined need never be lost.


Here are photos I took:














All photos © Hind Mezaina.



Singapore Diary - Red Dot Design Museum


An exhibition titled Product Design was on when I visited the Red Dot Design Museum. The exhibition has been on since 1st August 2015 but there was no indication on when it ends.

It was a fun walkthrough looking at some interesting and not so interesting designs. There were lots of "luminaires", also known as lights.

A watch or a bracelet, a mobile phone or a television set, a food processor or a car. Every one of us possesses a multitude of different objects, and each of those objects is a living example of our everyday preferences and product culture.

At the museum, you will explore all areas of daily life and how design can make a difference. Instead of ‘please do not touch’, the exhibition encourages you to ‘reach out and touch’ most of the exhibits, allowing you to explore the prize winning products with all of your senses.


Here are some of my favourite designs from the exhibition.

Nikau, pendant Luminaire made of bamboo plywood.


The UNITED_BOTTLE, PET bottles that can be used for instant building materials for temporary housing or small scale structures.


The Bradley, a tactile wristwatch designed for people with visual impairment.

Snowflake, a pendant luminaire inspired by a trip to the Antarctic.

Lumio, lamp resembling a book.

Haiku, ceiling fan.

Qlocktwo, wall and table clock.

IKEA PS 2014, pendant luminaire inspired by science fiction movies and video games resembling a spaceship or an imploding planet.





Shirt bags




All photos © Hind Mezaina.



Singapore Diary - Fifty Years of Singapore Design 


Fifty Years of Singapore Design looks at Singapore's design scene from its early years in the 1960s and its development into a vibrant industry we see today.

Made me think of Dubai, with the recently established entities Dubai Design District and Dubai Design & Fashion Council where we've not really seen anything besides PR and events like design fairs, fashion shows and panel talks. There's no actual local mass production when it comes to local design, what we have is still a 'scene' versus an 'industry'. I know things are changing slowly here, and hopefully a few decades from now, we can look back at a history of a locally developed design industry.

About Fifty Years of Singapore Design:

The collection presents iconic, popular and pivotal designs that have shaped the industry, bringing together for the first time, design works gathered from the fields of Environmental Design, Fashion & Accessories, Product & Industrial Design and Visual Communications in a fifty-year span. Along with designed objects, the showcase includes the stories that reflect the movements, trends and values of each decade.

Fifty years is a compact time, but these are watershed years that have seen the design industry emerge into a creative powerhouse and a key driver of a nation’s innovation-based economy. Through the curatorial journey which included in-depth interviews and collaborations with designers, this exhibition is not merely a timeline of triumphs and milestones of Singapore’s design scene; but also a collection of personal accounts, a self-portrait of a nation’s creative sensibility and attitude set against a backdrop of changing aesthetic, and economic and socio-political climate.


The exhibition is split into the following periods with categories that include Visual Communications, Product & Industrial Design, Fashion & Accessories, Environmental Design.

Below are some photos I took (the animated images are from the Fifty Years of Singapore Design website).



1965-1975: Building a Nation

Singapore’s early years after independence were a period of nation building. The creative efforts of this period were focused on domestic needs such as providing housing for the population, establishing civic institutions, constructing public buildings, and setting up the infrastructure for a new industrialised economy.

1975-1985: Economic Boom

The late 1970s and the early 1980s saw Singapore emerge as an economic powerhouse. On the back of the nation’s economic success the local design industry began to take shape.

As air travel became popular, Singapore became tourism-oriented and started to develop its recreational landscape. The economy was on the upswing with the nation’s growth creating corresponding demand for new lifestyle choices, leading to the flourish of the arts, cultural, and fashion sectors.

This period of growth saw local design houses and architecture practices mushroom. It was an innovative time when the creative impulse was charged with a sense of possibility.




1985-1995: New Technologies

The late 1980s saw the Singapore economy rebound from the 1985 economic recession to assume an outward orientation and open itself to the world in trade and investment. The Singapore Trade Development Board promoted design to businesses as a tool to create new products and brands with strong market competitiveness. Efforts were made to raise design consciousness and design was beginning to be recognized as a professional practice. This was also a time when several independent design associations were formed. Such formations strengthened the professional identity of designers.

Singapore was modernizing itself to world class standards. The advent of the home computer and the cell phone had already signalled the dawn of the digital information age. Local designers adopted new technology and new modes of working. The sense of progressiveness and openness can be observed in the built environment too. Singapore welcomed foreign architects and global ideas that would in this decade, shape it into a modern city. With increasing appreciation for designed spaces, a local interior design market also emerged at this time.


1995-2005: Going Global

The turn of the millennium saw Singapore designers step into the international arena to make a name for themselves overseas. Across all fields, the industry was in full swing: product designers were setting up their own brands, fashion designers were showing and exporting overseas, photographers and visual communication designers were invited to work with international brand names.

With the achievement of international recognition came too, a sense of local design identity and a confidence to explore. On home grounds, a new generation of local architects started to reinterpret traditional typologies. The establishment of the DesignSingapore Council to develop the design sector to help enhance the nation’s value proposition and contribute to the country’s economic growth and quality of life, was yet another turning point in Singapore’s creative industry landscape.



2005-2015: Looking Back, Looking Forward

With the advent of Web 2.0, designers are working in an even more fluid, borderless creative environment. This is a time of speed and connection, and the scene abounds with collaborations across disciplines. Entrepreneurship and self-initiated projects break new ground; designers are constantly experimenting and innovating to make things better, faster or simply, more delightful.

In the hive of activity, there is a movement of ‘looking back’. This is set against global trends such as the return of craft; and in a more local context, a ‘return to roots’. The trend is not just about nostalgia, but an active reinvention with an interest to preserve and conserve what has been done in the past. The Singapore design scene has taken on a spirit, a character, and an energy as it looks towards the future.


All photos © Hind Mezaina unless stated otherwise.



Singapore Diary - National Museum of Singapore

National Museum of Singapore (image via
The National Museum of Singapore has six permanent exhibitions dedicated to the history of Singapore. Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee last year, which might explain why there are many Singapore themed exhibitions in the city.

At the museum, there's the Singapore National Gallery which starts from 1299 and goes up to 1945.

We Built a Nation exhibition looks at the first 10 years of independence (1965–1975) that shaped Singapore’s history, and the important roles played by the founding leaders in developing Singapore’s economy, foreign policy and diplomacy, security and defence, education and infrastructure. Most importantly, it pays it "pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew’s contributions to Singapore, and the ideals and convictions that shaped him and his generation of leaders".

There is a lot to see and learn about Singapore and its turbulent history from these exhibitions. The other four exhibitions, listed below, ended up being my favourites, especially Growing Up which included objects and stories I could relate to. I guess we all played with similar toys and as teens were drawn to film and music to escape.

I also really like Voices of Singapore which looks at the cultural history of Singapore between 1975 and 1985.


Here are photos I took and you can read about each exhibition by clicking on each title.


Modern Colony 1925 - 1935


Surviving Syonan 1942 - 1945



Growing Up 1955 - 1965



Voices of Singapore 1975 - 1985


All photos © Hind Mezaina unless stated otherwise.


10 days in Singapore 

I just got back from a 10 day trip to Singapore. The main reason I went to Singapore was to catch some of the films screening at the Hou Hsiao-hsien film "Also Like Life" film retrospective at the National Museum of Singapore. I recently wrote about my introduction to his films and how much I admire them and was glad to get a chance to see more of films. I managed to watch seven films over two weekends and in between got to explore the city of Singapore.

This is my second trip to Singapore, my first trip was in 2012. My next few posts will be about this trip, so expect more images and highlights.

For now, enjoy this first batch of photos.


I decided to escape 'art week' in Dubai and the film screenings in Singapore was the perfect excuse. But little did I know, wherever I go, Dubai follows.


Experienced some rain on my first day in Singapore. 


National Museum of Singapore where I watched the films by Hou Hsiao-hsien.


A temple in Little India.


Shops in Little India.


Saw this in one of my taxi rides around the city. Didn't get the name of the building.


View from the National Library of Singapore.


Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.


Marina Bay Sands



All photos © Hind Mezaina.


The Culturist Recommends - Art Season Special - March 2016 

© Tanya Habjouqa - Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots

It's March, which means it's "art month" in Dubai where every gallery and cultural organisation in the city (plus Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) get into hyperdrive mode with lots of new exhibitions and events - as I referred to it a few years ago, a month of art and culture on steroids.

The core activities will happen during "Art Week" between 13th - 18th March 2016 because that's when the key art events take place, SIKKA 2016 (13-24 March), Design Days Dubai (14-18 March), Art Dubai (16-19 March), plus Galleries Night in Alserkal Avenue and Art Night at DIFC (both on 14 March). 

Additionally, exhibitons featuring renowned artists are opening in both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah around those dates, so it will be good to drive south to Abu Dhabi and north to Sharjah if you want a break from Dubai.

But the good news is even if you can't see everything during "Art Week", the exhibitions across town will remain open for a month or more.

It is an exciting time of the year, especially to the people within the art community but also to anyone that isn't very familiar to the art scene. There is a special buzz in the air and you get to meet lots of artists, meet old friends or make new ones because of the number of people visiting that week.

Personally, I'm suffering from 'art season' fatigue and will most likely visit a lot of the exhibitions after things calm down, but whether you already have several art seasons up your sleeve or ready to experience your first one, I say do go out, make time to attend talks and performances that you won't normally get to attend and save the gallery visits when things calm down after "Art Week".

Here art my top 15 recommendations of exhibitions, talks and events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah you should visit this month. But also be aware there are many things happening (lots within the same vicinty), so do be curious and try to experience as much as you can. Everything is listed in Do keep in mind, many of these exhibitions will be on till next month, so don't feel obliged to attend every opening.

Wherever you go or whatever you see, hope you enjoy the art season this month.

Gallery: East Wing (Dubai)
Dates: 10th March – 7th April 2016 
© Leila Alaoui - Crossing (video still)
© Tanya Habjouqa - Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots
© Omar Imam - Live, Love, Refugee “There was only grass, but I couldn't pass it through my throat. Yet I forced myself to swallow in front of the children so they would accept it as food”
Throughout history, for many cultures migration has been an essential fact of life. The reasons people choose to migrate are varied and almost always complex. Some people move to new countries to improve their economic situation, or pursue better education. Others leave to escape human rights abuses; torture, persecution, armed conflict, extreme poverty and ultimately, death.

War reporting tends to focus on the devastation of landscapes and casualties of battle; it’s harder to visualize stories of resulting psychological effects on those who escape such conflict and devastation. In response to these pressing global issues and the devastating effects they leave in their wake on vast populations and cultures, East Wing presents, "If I Leave, Where Will I Go", a group exhibition of photography and video installation featuring the work of Leila Alaoui, Tanya Habjouqa and Omar Imam - three award-winning artists who use their unique humanistic perspectives to reflect on preservation amidst conflict.

2. Vertical Volume - Yasuaki Onishi
Gallery: The Mine (Dubai)
Dates: 14th March – 30th April 2016
Vertical Volume is Yasuaki Onishi’s second solo exhibition in the UAE. Presenting Onishi’s new body of work "vertical volume" a room-size installation in which volumes of cylindrical bags expand and contract with vertical motion, creating a vertiginous sensation of negative space through movement.

3. Phantom Limb - Diana Al-Hadid
Gallery: NYUAD Art Gallery (Abu Dhabi)
Dates: 6th March - 28th May 2016

Phantom Limb, 2014. Steel, polymer gypsum, fiberglass, foam, wood, plaster, metal mesh, aluminum foil, pigment. 269.2 × 350.5 × 363.2 cm (106 × 138 × 143 inches) | Photo: Markus Wörgötter. Courtesy the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery © New York.

Diana Al-Hadid’s works transforms Renaissance and classical imagery into contemporary sculptural forms that appear to be decaying or resurfacing, often in a cascade of white, melting gypsum. Her towering sculptures, spectral wall pieces, and surreal bronzes will fill the 7,000 square foot gallery.

The exhibition takes its title from a central work, Phantom Limb, a term referring to the sensations that a missing arm or leg is still present, and able to move. The title captures the character of much of Al-Hadid’s work, which evokes memory and long cultural history through a visceral, materially-focused working technique. The theme of memory and its physical manifestations in art and architecture runs throughout Al-Hadid’s work.

Gallery: NYUAD Arts Center Project Space (Abu Dhabi)
Dates: 10th - 19th March 2016

Doug Beube - Zipper Theory: Facing Shame Tomorrow, 2005/10 Altered books, collage, zippers, 12 × 24 × 1/2 inches, Image courtesy of JHB Gallery, New York, NY
Doug Beube and Brian Dettmer create artworks through a transformation of often used or discarded books. At turns these sculptural works isolate, alter, expand and repurpose elements of the source material, but the works’ engagement with the idea of the book transcends the mere fact of their composition.

Book designer and editor Irma Boom allows visitors to explore the nature of the printed book itself. Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to handle several editions from Boom’s oeuvre, innovative and engaging works which reflect the ever-evolving role of the book in the age of digital dissemination of information. For Boom, in the face of an allegedly growing popular preference for web-based information, bookmaking is an opportunity to reaffirm the value of the book through conscious and effective design.

5. Farideh Lashai
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Bait Al Serkal (Sharjah)
Dates: 12th March - 12th June 2016

Farideh Lashai, El Âmal, 2011-2012, projected animation with sound, oil and graphite on canvas, 188 x 189.2 cm, Sharjah Art Foundation Collection. Photo courtesy of Edward Tyler Nahme Fine Art

This retrospective exhibition will include painting and moving image works by the late Iranian artist Farideh Lashai.

Born in 1944 in Rasht, Iran, Lashai's stop motion animation works often reference iconic works of art, literature and film while commenting on political and social conditions in Iran. A student of German literature at the University of Frankfurt she is also known as a writer and translator, particularly of work by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht.

6. Two Suns in a Sunset - Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Building J and P, SAF Art Spaces (Sharjah)
Dates: 12th March - 12th June 2016

The Lebanese Rocket Society, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 2012, film still.
This major exhibition of work by Lebanese artists and filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige offers an insight into the ensemble of their artistic and cinematic projects from the late 1990s to the present day and includes new commissions. This exhibition is a collaboration with Jeu de Paume, Paris; Haus der Kunst, Munich; and IVAM, Valencia.

7. Simone Fattal
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Building F, SAF Art Spaces (Sharjah)
Dates: 12th March - 12th June 2016
Simone Fattal, untitled, 2012, clay, 35 cm diameter each. Courtesy of the artist.
This solo exhibition features recent works by Simone Fattal including sculpture, simple non-figurative ceramic forms and works based in textual compositions, collage as well as paintings.

8. Time is Out of Joint
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Building GH and I, SAF Art Spaces (Sharjah)
Dates: 12th March - 12th June 2016 

Ali Cherri, The Disquiet, 2013, courtesy of the artist and Imane Farès
Building on Ibn Arabi's concept of time as a fluid place and place as a frozen time, the project examines our current and future locations and conditions. It confuses different times, places, cities and artistic events that took place in the past or will take time in the future. The Time is Out of Joint reenacts two key exhibitions that took place at transitional moments in history and completes them with a look into the future.

It summons "the first Arab Artist Biennial" in Baghdad in 1974, "China Avant-garde Exhibition" in Beijing in 1989 and the future "Jogja Equater Conference" in 2022, questioning constraints of time and place by suggesting leaps among those different places and times, and among basic laws that have governed and continue to govern thoughts.

The project invites the audience to engage with three platforms; an exhibition, which includes video works, installations and photography; a reading room with a discursive programme that hosts performances, artist talks, and an archive; and a one day conference titled Jogja Equator Conference 2022.

9. Home Ground
Gallery: Barjeel Art Foundation, Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah)
Dates: 25th February - 1st September 2016

Manal Al Dowayan - Suspended Together – Standing Doves
The connection one feels to place is an abstract notion, often spoken of in terms of memories, habits, rituals, and experiences. It is elusive, yet always present. Home Ground addresses the struggles associated with navigating geo-political barriers, and explores ways in which identity is shaped by one’s relationship with a particular geography.

The works presented in this exhibition have relevance beyond their individual contexts, touching upon themes and experiences that resonate on a global scale.

10. Al Haraka Baraka: In Movement There is Blessing
Gallery: Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah)
Dates: 25th February - 30th April 2016

Alaa Edris - Reem Dream 02, 2015
Al Haraka Baraka: In Movement There is Blessing explores the rich mix of cultures that have long existed in the U.A.E. and the influence of these cultural migrations. Transitions in geographies and nationalities leave their traces in family names, local dishes, customs, costumes, music, dance and cultural practices.

Talks / Symposiums / Performances  

11. March Meeting Programme - performances, screenings, readings  
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation
Dates: 11th – 15th March 

Events will include performances by artists Uriel Barthélémi and Taro Shinoda who will present "Lunar Reflection Transmission Technique", a collaborative performance in the Sharjah Desert, developed from conversations during Sharjah Biennial 12. Plus, launch of the exhibition book co-edited by Ala Younis, a series of performances, film screenings, artist talks, presentations and discussions.

Full line up of events can be found here.

12. March Meeting 2016: Education, Engagement and Participation  
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation
Dates: 12th - 13th March 2016

March Meeting 2016 (MM 2016) will consider how institutions, initiatives, curators and artists have increasingly prioritised their relationships with audiences and communities through current thinking around ideas of education, engagement and participation.

Rather than presume these terms have prescribed meanings or operate according to rehearsed protocols and practices, MM 2016 emerges from a number of basic questions that attempt to break from routine and examine other points of departure.
Read more here.

13. Global Art Forum 10 at Art Dubai
Venue: Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah (Dubai)
Dates: 16th - 18th March 2016

© Abu Dhabi Media - Alittihad Newspaper

This year's forum will address the them, "The Future Was". The sessions will include presentations, coversations and performances. Line up of participants and schedule can be found here.

14. The Wedding Project at Art Dubai
Dates: 16th - 18th March 2016
Venue: Mina a’Salam Hotel (Dubai)

Delfina Foundation brings together several elements of its popular dinner performances with site-specific commissions and interventions by artists.

The project playfully unfolds in two interconnected rooms in the Mina a’Salam Hotel that are typically used as venues for executive meals, business conferences and weddings. Taking these formats as a starting point, Delfina Foundation has curated a pop-up bar and banquet hall that mixes continuous offerings of food and drink with seated, time-based performative meals.

The performative meals take place on Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th March at 8.00pm during Art Dubai. To reserve a seat contact Sara Masinaei,

15. Film screenings at Art Dubai
Dates: 16th - 19th March 2016
Venue: Madinat Jumeriah (Dubai)

A selection of  video and film by and about artists will be screened thourghout the fair. Line up of films and artists can be found here.

Complete list of exibitions and events for the month of March can be found at

Disclosure: I am one of the artists taking part in Al Haraka Baraka: In Movement There is Blessing exhibition and I am also one of the artists contributing to The Wedding Project.


Very Big Shot by Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya


On Tuesday, 1st March, I went to the premiere screening of Very Big Shot / فيلم كتير كبير (Film Kteer Kbeer), a Lebanese film by  Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya.

I really liked this film and this is just a quick post with initial thoughts about it. I'm aiming to write more after I've had a chance to really digest it. 

There was a good buzz about the film since September - it premiered at TIFF last September, was screened at the London Film Festival in October and it won an award at the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival in December, the jury president was Francis Ford Coppola.

I went in not knowing much about the film apart from it being about a drug dealer who is trying to go legit.

I left feeling exhilarated. It's a film that took it's time to make its point and took its viewers to an unexpected conclusion. A conclusion that can be interpreted in many ways. A conclusion that has left me thinking about the film for days after watching it. 

For a first feature, Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya has done a tremendous job in making a film that jumps to different genres, from crime thriller to action to dark comedy and satire. Added to that is the great dialogue, making it a film that entertains you and makes you think.

It is one of the best Arab films I've seen in the past 4 years (other favourites during those years include Wadjda, Challat of Tunis, Omar and Theeb).

The Arabic title, فيلم كتير كبير (Film Kteer Kbeer) literally means "a very big film", an Arabic saying meaning a very big hoax. There is a film within this film that's being made for ulterior motives, so Very Big Shot refers to that, but it could also refer to the lead character in the film, Ziad Haddad (Alain Saadeh, who also wrote the script).

I watched the film in a theatre with a mostly Arabic speaking audience who all laughed at the jokes together. I'm curious to know what will the experience be like in a room with non-Arabic speakers.

There might be certain nuances that could get lost in translation, but the overall themes in the film are universal - sibling rivalry, power and grandiosity, corruption, religious zealotry and even an illicit love affair. The film within a film has some of the funniest scenes in it.

This is an indie Arab film that needs to be watched and talked about. Please go to the cinema and watch it. It is currently screening in VOX Cinemas in the UAE and across the Gulf region. Check your local cinema losting for details. 



Very Big Shot on IMDb
Very Big Shot on Twitter


NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center - Performances in March 2016 

Huang Yi & KUKA

Here's a line up of performances happening this month at the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center.


Women Riding in the Sand | Experimental Laboratiory based on Federico García Lorca
When: 10th and 11th March at 7.00pm and 12th March at 2.00pm and 7.00pm
Where: Black Box The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

The NYUAD Theater Program Mainstage Student Production examines the electrifying work of legendary Spanish playwright, poet, and director Federico García Lorca.

Working with acclaimed director Carlos DiazLeon from Santiago, Chile, NYU Abu Dhabi students present an innovative multimedia investigation into the preoccupations of FG Lorca. Refracting his riveting stories and timeless characters through a variety of artistic lenses, this radical theatrical production steps into a world of beguiling questions – on gender, love, identity, desire – created by the master of poetic realism. Come explore the mind of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated, misunderstood, and controversial creative voices.



Huang Yi & KUKA
When: 30th and 31st March at 8.00pm
Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

The acclaimed Taiwanese choreographer, dancer, and inventor Huang Yi and his robot companion KUKA bring razor sharp precision and stunning artistry to a spellbinding work examining the relationship between humans and technology.

As a child, he longed for a robot friend. As an adult, he created a robot to dance with—becoming a two-time winner of Taipei Digital Art Performance Award along the way. Harmoniously weaving together the art of dance and the science of mechanical engineering, Huang Yi & KUKA is a poetic work that flawlessly intertwines modern dance and visual arts with the realm of robotics. Huang’s pioneering work is steeped in his fascination with the relationship between humans and robots; he simultaneously re-imagines dance and questions humanity through a hybrid performance piece that mesmerizes.


Live music gigs this month at The Music Room



The Music Room in Dubai is quite a popular venue in Dubai. Although it is known as a venue that mostly hosts cover bands, it is it also a venue where many local bands get to peform live, and once in a while we also get indie bands from abroad. 

This month, The Music Room will host not one, but three international live acts:

  • Alsarah and the Nubatones on Wednesday 9th March (this will be their second time here, they performed live at the same venue last summer)
  • Nouvelle Vague, yes, THE Novelle Vague, on Friday, 11th March
  • Sherazade and LavionRose on Saturday, 19th March

This is an extremely eclectic line up, we have East African retro pop, cover versions of popular songs in bossa nova and pop music sung in Russian, Arabic, French, English, Armenian and Turkish.


Alsarah and the Nubatones on Wednesday, 9th March

East African retro-pop from the acclaimed Sudenese-born singer. Alsarah, is a Sudanese born singer, songwriter and ethnomusicologist. Born in the capital city of Khartoum, where she spent the first 8 years of her life, she relocated to Taez, Yemen, but was forced to move to the US in 1994 when a civil war broke out. Now residing in Brooklyn, NY, she features in various projects such as the Nile Project and was featuring on their acclaimed album Aswan.

Alsarah and the Nubatones came together out of a collective love for Nubian music and a genuine belief that Soul transcends all cultural and linguistic barriers. Inspired by the pentatonic scale they blend a selection of Nubian 'songs of return' from the 1970s-today with original material and traditional music of central Sudan. Their set is a musical journey through diaspora and migration from an urban lense.

When: Wednesday, 9th March. 6pm - 1am
Ticket: AED 100 on the door.

Event page.



Nouvelle Vague on Friday, 11th March

Cult Bossa Nova band Nouvelle Vague will perform in Dubai for the first time on Friday, 11 March.  The band record cover versions of cult songs like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and 'Ever Fallen In Love' but in a Bossa Nova style, giving the classic songs a totally new sound. To date, they've sold nearly a million records across the world, and had millions of Youtube views.

The band also heavily borrow from the New Wave scene, and the Nouvelle Vague film genre to create a truly unique sound.

When: Friday, 11th March. 9pm till late. The show starts from 9pm followed by an after show party.
Ticket: Starting from AED250 (including one free drink), buy tickets here.

Event page.


Sherazade and LavionRose on Saturday, 19th March


Russian-Algerian singer Sherazade and her musicians from LavionRose will take Dubai’s music haven The Music Room on Saturday March 19. Brought by Alliance Française Dubai and for the first time in Dubai, the band will perform their latest tracks: a superb blend of world music and pop.

Sherazade’s vocals are an echo to her life: vibrant and sensual, at the crossroads of mixed cultures. Her musical identity is deeply rooted in world music and shaped by an influence of varied music genres:  Russian and Eastern music, traditional or classical, lyrical song with an affinity for blues and soul. The lyrics, sung in Russian, Arabic, French, English, Armenian or Turkish are more than an invitation to travel. Bold, sincere, they resound within us through their universal side.

LavionRose are five musicians who have toured stages around the world playing pop rock blended with world music. With LavionRose, Sherazade offers new sound textures from urban electric to flavorful and mystic. Their tracks such as Arménia, Palmita, Ocian, Louliya intertwine to draw a contemporary geography, both provocative and seductive.

LavionRose is Sébastien Duval on bass, John Eudes Solignac Lecomte on drums, Manuel Decocq on violin and accordion, Jean Claude Meurisse on piano and vocals, Jerome Eye Saleys on guitar and sound.

When: Saturday, 19th March. Doors open at 7pm, music starts at 9pm.

Ticket: AED 50 (available at The Music Room and at Alliance Française Dubai)

 Event page.



The Music Room is in the Majestic Hotel, Mankool Road, Bur Dubai (location map)