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40 at 40 - Part 2 


Here's part 2 of the 40@40 series (you can see part one here). It's from a video series put together by The National to mark the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates. It features 40 historic objects that have shaped the country. You can read about each object here.

My favourite from this set of videos is the Grundig radio (object number 20).

Object 11. Russian tea pot - 19-20th century


Object 12. Pearl Sieves - Early 20th Century


Object 13. Passports belonging to Mohammed Al Fahim -1957 to 1971


Object 14. Block of coral from an Abu Dhabi house - late 19th/early 20th century


Object 16. Royal invitation cards- 1979


Object 17. Two clay pots - date unknown


Object 18. Al Sidr Leaves


Object 19. Khanjar dagger - 1930s


Object 20. A Grundig radio used by Sheikh Shakhbut


[PS I'm aware Object 15 is missing from The National's YouTube channel. Will add it here as soon as I get my hands on it.]


Music Monday - Gotye

Music Monday is back after a short break. 

This blog post has been in draft mode for the past few months, so I'm not sharing anything new today - you're probably one of the 18 million people that's already seen the music video I'm about to disuss.

I almost gave up on sharing this post, but after hearing Somebody I Used to Know by Gotye on the radio yesterday, (it was a while since I last heard it), I thought to myself - I'm going to post this, even if it's old news.

So here's Gotye (his real name is Wouter De Backer), the Belgian-Australian artist that has become an international hit because of his heartbreak song that you want to hear over and over again, "Somebody I Used to Know". 

We're bombarded with pop songs full of empty lyrics these days, so I think it's wonderful when a pop song that's crafted this well, lyrically and musically, becomes a worldwide hit. Gives me faith in humanity. And the video is great too.

So enjoy this again, and if it's the first time you see this, hope you like it as much as I do. Read this excellent review of the song I found on

Somebody I Used to Know


Here's Gotye talking about "Somebody I Used To Know" and how it was almost left on the cutting room floor.

Here are some of Gotye's recent and older songs:

Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You


Easy Way Out

Coming Back


Hearts A Mess


40 at 40 - Part 1


The National has put together a great video series to mark the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates. 40@40 features 40 historic objects that have shaped the country. I will feature the videos in four parts on this blog over the next few days.

Each video is around 2 minutes long and many include some archival footage. It really is a trip into the past and some of the stories are very endearing. I hope there will be longer versions of these videos later on. In the meantime, enjoy the first part of this series. You can read about each object here.

Object 1. Silver headdress - early 20th century


Object 2. Foetal heart monitor - early 1960s


Object 3. Boat drill - 1950s / 1960s


Object 4. Postage stamp - 1968


Object 5. Mirror and comb - 1940s


Object 7. Pearl diver's nose clip - 1964


Object 8. Etisalat phone - 1987


Object 9. Wooden bridal chest - 1900


Object 10. Formula One volunteer armband - 2009


[PS I'm aware Object 6 is missing. Will add it here as soon as I get my hands on it.]




Film Screening - Cultures of Resistance


Community Cinema is screening Cultures of Resistance by Iara Lee this Wednesday, 30th November at Traffic. This is Community Cinema's second screening (they screened Budrus last month), part of an ongoing series of films that deal with social, humanitarian, environmental, cultural and urban issues to shed light on and/or directly address current relevant concerns.

Community Cinema's aim is to use film screenings as a platform to bring individuals from the community to engage in framing current and relevant social issues, exposing different angles and sharing ideas to facilitate solutions.

The screenings are free and it's a great opportunity to meet like minded people and to discuss topics that go beyond the film.



Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be weapons of peace? In 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, director Iara Lee embarked on a journey to better understand a world increasingly embroiled in conflict and, as she saw it, heading for self-destruction. After several years, travelling over five continents, Iara encountered growing numbers of people who committed their lives to promoting change. This is their story. From Iran, where graffiti and rap became tools in fighting government repression, to Burma, where monks acting in the tradition of Gandhi take on a dictatorship, moving on to Brazil, where musicians reach out to slum kids and transform guns into guitars, and ending in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where photography, music, and film have given a voice to those rarely heard, Cultures of Resistance  explores how art and creativity can be ammunition in the battle for peace and justice.

Featuring: Medellín poets for peace, Capoeira masters from Brazil, Niger Delta militants, Iranian graffiti artists, women’s movement leaders in Rwanda, Lebanon’s refugee filmmakers, U.S. political pranksters, indigenous Kayapó activists from the Xingu River, Israeli dissidents, hip-hop artists from Palestine, and many more...


Event details

Date and time: Wednesday, 30th November at 7pm
Venue: Traffic, 79 Umm Suqeim Road, Dubai (location map)
Phone: +9714 347 0209
Free entry.


Film Screening - Manufactured Landscapes

Gulf Photo Plus is launching a new movie night that will focus on films inspired by photography.  For the launch night on Tuesday, 29th November, they will screen Manufactured Landscapes by Jennifer Baichwal.


Manufactured Landscapes is a feature length documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky makes large-scale photographs of ‘manufactured landscapes’ – quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines, dams. He photographs civilization’s materials and debris, but in a way people describe as “stunning” or “beautiful,” and so raises all kinds of questions about ethics and aesthetics without trying to easily answer them.

The film follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country photographing the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. Sites such as the Three Gorges Dam, which is bigger by 50% than any other dam in the world and displaced over a million people, factory floors over a kilometre long, and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai’s urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera.

Shot in Super-16mm film, Manufactured Landscapes extends the narrative streams of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our profound impact on the planet and witness both the epicentres of industrial endeavour and the dumping grounds of its waste. What makes the photographs so powerful is his refusal in them to be didactic. We are all implicated here, they tell us: there are no easy answers. The film continues this approach of presenting complexity, without trying to reach simplistic judgements or reductive resolutions. In the process, it tries to shift our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.



Event details
Date and time: Tuesday, 29th November at 7pm
Venue: The Pavilion Downtown Dubai (location map)
Free entry. Space is limited, so please confirm your attendance by sending an RSVP to miranda[at]gulfphotoplus[dot]com


The United Arab Emirates Flag

© Hind Mezaina

The flag of the United Arab Emirates can be seen all around town, and I'm not just talking about flags on poles. I'm talking about very large flags draped on very large houses.

It's something I've never seen before, so curious to know who started this trend. I guess with the nation turning 40 on 2nd December, some people want to express their pride and joy. Or maybe just outdo their neighbours.

I drove around to take a few photos of the houses, but it suddenly turned dark and grey which aborted my mission. So here's a very small selection of photos I took with my phone. But I hope to share some more photos when I get a chance to go out to photograph again.

© Hind Mezaina


© Hind Mezaina


© Hind Mezaina


Here's an article from The National that explains the history of the flag, Teen who designed UAE's national flag was 'in a flutter'.

Black stands for the oil that helped transform his country. Green is for fertility and its green gardens. And white and red were already present in separate emirate flags, so I added on what was already there to signify our expansion into a unified entity. Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah, the designer of the United Arab Emirates flag




Olympians by Gabriella Sancisi

Olympians by Gabriella Sancisi is a new photography exhibition that features athletes from the United Arab Emirates. It's taking place at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel in Abu Dhabi from 25th November till 2nd Decemer 2011. I do hope it gets to travel around the country in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics.

After it was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympic Games, Gabriella Sancisi began to photograph professional athletes as well as young people involved in sports in schools in the Olympic Boroughs and teenagers who play sport in clubs throughout London. Many of the young people were asked for their thoughts on the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to London, their relationship to their chosen sport and their hopes and dreams for the future.

For the UAE edition, Gabriella photographed a total of twenty-four Olympic and Paralympic athletes during her visit this year.

 I recorded each likeness in a similar way to create a uniform group although individual subjects were captured at different locations and at varying times. I have chosen those images which touched me the most and which I feel work best collectively. I often use scale in my work to create an opportunity for the viewer to look closely at the sitters. I have tremendous respect for all of the athletes who chose to be portrayed and I have tried not to impose too many rules on how they should pose. At the same time, I know exactly what it is that I am looking for in a likeness and this is generally a moment of self-consciousness or connection when the relationship between the athlete, me and an eventual viewer of the portrait seem to collide.

We aren't a very sporty nation, if shopping and hanging out at malls was a sport, we'd be champions. So personally, I think it's wonderful that there's an exhibition celebrating the few who really do push themselves to achieve success in the world of sports. I particularly love how the photos put both Olympic and Paralympic athletes on the same footing. Here's a small selection of photos from the Olympians exhibition. You can see the full series here.

Ahmed Abdullah Al Hosani- Javelin Throw, Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, Sharjah

“Today I feel happiness whenever I remember the fear I felt every time I practised sport in the past. I was able to overcome my fear and replace it with the joy of accomplishment.

Faithful coaches believed in my capabilities and stood by me and that made me conquer the difficult stages.
Sport is no longer a frightening hobby; it is now my present and my future, which I hope will be more promising.

I am thrilled that I have qualified for the Paralympic Games, and I hope I will take part in the Games in 2012”.


Fatmah Rashed Al Kaabi - Powerlifting, Dubai Club for Special Sports

“Sport gave me many things which I never expected. My personality and views about life have changed for good. I’m stubborn by nature and I love to be special, therefore, I do not like to go the easy ways, and that is what attracted me to powerlifting.

So, I became the first Emirati woman to practise and pursue this game, despite the fact that even the idea of having a female powerlifer is rejected by our society. I hope that the awareness of the importance of sport spreads even more, because it means a lot!”


Hassan Ali Malaleih - Shot put/Javelin throw wheelchair, Khorfakkan Club for Handicapped

“I reached the world of sport while I walked through the road of light. I followed the advice of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) who said: 'Teach your children shooting, swimming and horse riding.' I discovered a whole different world.

I discovered the balance between mind and body. I initially faced problems related to fixing the target and throwing the javelin in the specified direction. I was, however, capable of overcoming them all with a lot training. My enthusiasm for the Paralympic Games in 2012 is overwhelming”.

Maryam Khameis Al Matrooshi - Javelin throw/ Shot put, Khorfakkan Club for Handicapped

“The playground seemed small, but the dream was bigger… When I began practising javelin throwing, I faced a problem in the limited training space, but I used to look into the horizon and feel that the whole world was my playground.

My passion for this sport made me overcome any challenges that threatened my way to professionalism. For me, sport means horizon, playground… and existence. All athletes dream of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and, I, similarly, share the same dream and hope it comes true for me in 2012”.

Mubarek Mohammed Salem Youssef Al Bishr - Swimming, Al Wasl Club

“Swimming has always taken me high to a beautiful and fascinating world… a world of fame. I have not lost my balance though. On the contrary, fame made me reorganise my life in a more disciplined manner.

I did not choose swimming; with members of my family having practised this sport long before me, I feel that swimming chose me. With patience and determination, I was able to overcome the difficulties that I had encountered in the beginning.

I hope that the United Arab Emirates continues its great support to Sports and extends its sincere encouragement to the Emirati athletes.”

Rashid Khalaf Al Nuaimi - Sprinting, Al Ain Club for the Disabled

“Training is everything, and persistent training is the bridge that leads to success; my family and friends have been the greatest support in this regard. They are important in my life especially as, for me, sprinting means interaction with others, with people...

I feel like I compete first with my own self to reach any championship, and this has always helped me go through the first phases without any difficulties.”

Siham Masoud Al Rashidi - Discus throw/Javelin throw, Dubai Club for Special Sports

“I always had a passion for following the news on sports and sportspeople, but I never thought for one moment that I would practise it. Sport has now become my obsession, a part of me. I was trained for two years until I mastered discus throwing, and I was really surprised when I knew that my scores would qualify me for the Paralymic Games.

This was a dream which I never expected to come true. I think of my own dream and of the dreams of all Emirati women who played an extraordinary role in sports for the handicapped, and I hope I could bring that role into the spotlight, even more.”




Thuraya Hamad AlZaabi - Javelin throw/ Shot put, Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, Sharjah  
“Sport is the soul; that is how I call it. My disability never stopped me from being a sportswoman. I found that javelin throwing and shot put are suitable for my case, although they are not easy sports.

My wish is to be ambassador of my country to the international events, to present the good image of the Emirati girl: smiling, successful, and loving.”

Exhibition details
Date: 25th November - 2nd December 2011
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE



Falaj in Al Ain

Continuing my posts to celebrate the upcoming 40th National Day of the United Arab Emirates, here's my latest post from Al Ain which is part of Abu Dhabi. It's known as the Garden City because it is one of the greenest cities in the country. When you drive from Dubai to Al Ain, the desert sand colour starts to change and you start seeing more trees as you start approaching it.

This video is about the traditional irrigation system called "Falaj" which according to this clip "existed in the Al Ain region at about 1,000 years BC, making it the oldest".







Venice Biennale 2011

Image from the UAE Pailion 2011

The 54th of the Venice Biennale comes to an end on 27th November. It's been on all summer, but I never had a chance to visit. So I thought I'd share a video from the first three days of the 'vernissage' (the VIP opening dates) that I found on

It's quite entertaining, particularly because it has art critic and journalst Ben Lewis who doesn't mince words. The first three days of the Venice Biennale are very hectic but also a lot of fun (I attended the 53rd edition in 2009 edition and the first three days were so, so cazy). But probably the best thing about attending the Venice Biennale is Venice itself - a very unique and special place.


 3 Days in Venice via


If you are still inteterested in seeing more videos from the Venice Biennale, here are videos from three countries from the Middle East that took part.


United Arab Emirates Pavilion


Saudi Arabia Pavilion


Egypt Pavilion
Egyptian Pavilion


The Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video

I really admire the team behind, they design and curate with the hope that "each product and its inherent story inspires others to follow their dream".**

They have a wonderful manifesto, which I posted last September and they've now released a video version of it which I absolutely love.

 The Holstee Manifesto is a call to action to live a life full of intention, creativity, passion, and community.

The LifeCycle Film came about as a desire to bring the energy and passion behind the Manifesto to life through something we love--biking. As we seek to live mindful lifestyles that leave a positive impact on the people and world around us, biking has become a passion that is much more than a transportation alternative. It is a way of fully experiencing the city we love and all of its details.

This Film is a celebration. It is a celebration of gatherings, of diversity, of life, and of the beauty of shared experience. We hope you enjoy.


If I knew how to ride a bike, I'd go out riding right now. In fact, think it's about time I learn how to ride a bike.



** I also love them for their recent Black Curtain Friday announcement. Instead of being part of Black Friday in the USA, the day after thanksgiving known as a day of shopping frenzy because of promotional sales that happen on the day, decided to take the day off to spend time with family and friends, "On a day that has come to symbolize consumerism and consumption, we want to send a different message: spend time instead of spending money." How cool is that? Wish more companies and organisations can be like this.