Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in DUCTAC (20)


Exhibition and Talk Series: Is Old Gold? 

Artwork by Hussain Sharif 

Is Old Gold? is an exhibition curated by Cristiana de Marchi and Muhanad Ali, opening at DUCTAC (Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai) on Tuesday, 21st February 2017.

It pairs 10 artists from the current generation of artists ((including yours truly) with 5 artists (Hassan SharifMohammed Ahmed IbrahimMohammed KazemAbdullah Al Saadi and Hussain Sharifwho were part of the UAE avant-garde contemporary art practice in the 1970s.

Looking at spirit of experimentation that was present at that time, Is Old Gold? aims to ask "how and why this narrative has been aborted, lost or evolved and if it can, or should be recovered in the current context". The exhibition suggests a gap has emerged between today's generation and the previous one and asks if it is "due to disparate socio-political concerns by the UAE’s rapidly shifting contexts, or is it the result of other, more inherently personal, motivations and choices" and seeks to find out if this gap can be filled". 

The 10 artists who were invited to participate in this exhibition are: 

  • Maitha Abdalla 
  • Amal Al Khaja   
  • Shaikha Al Mazrou
  • Taqwa Al Naqbi
  • Fatima Albudoor   
  • Moza Almatrooshi 
  • Hind Mezaina
  • Alaa Edris
  • Alia Lootah 
  • Jumairy     

In a comparative experiment that takes the form of a fictional narrative, two artists from the contemporary ‘younger’ generation of Emirati artists were assigned to work separately on a ‘character’ from the ‘5 UAE’. The experimental, productive structure of the exhibition reflects on the atelier atmosphere of innovative exchange initiated by Hassan Sharif and transmuted and sustained by four of his students – Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem, Abdullah Al Saadi and Hussain Sharif.

This hypothetical experimental structure, wryly reminiscent of a family tree, is the result of perceived dislocation between these generations and seeks to describe the qualities of this creative, methodological and pedagogical gap.

'Is Old Gold?' straddles this gap, presenting creative acts of remembrance and reconsideration alongside games of fantasy and, equally telling, utterly disconnected pieces that are the product of defiance or disengagement.   


Leading to the opening of the exhibition, there will be series of weekly talks starting on Tuesday, 24th January 2017 which will be moderated by Cristiana de Marchi and will include some of the artists from the exhibition alongside leading writers, curators, academics and culture producers in the UAE. It's a good line up of topics which will ask some important questions. I hope it will create valuable and thought provoking discussions about the art scene in the country. 

Below is the information about the talks. I will be part of the panel on 14th January. Hope you can attend one, two, three or all four talks and hope you can make it to the exhibition too. 

Tuesday, 24th January, 7pm at DUCTAC's Art Forum

Knowledge Transmission: From The Atelier To Remote Teaching – Dominions Of Ideas And Inheritance

What roles have formal and informal education played in the UAE? Is there a shared cross-generational pedagogy despite apparent divergence? What necessitated the marked departure from the organic structures that propelled the creative spirit of the avant-garde ‘UAE 5’ to today’s more formal institutional approach? Whathas been lost and what has thrived as a result of this shift? 

Cristiana de Marchi will moderate a panel with filmmaker and writer Nujoom Al Ghanem, artist Fatima Albudoor, artist, cultural producer and curator Roberto Lopardo and academic Elizabeth Stoney for a discussion on the history of UAE artistic “educations” – both formal and informal.  


Tuesday, 31st January, 7pm at DUCTAC's Art Forum 31

Imitation, Plagiarism And Tribute: Recurrences In Visual Arts 

How has the apparatus of the colossal international art world infiltrated, shaped and informed art practices in the UAE? Can a local-centric approach counter the press of the international? How does the conflation of these two systems, the local and the international, the emergent and the established, engender a spectrum of issues from isolation to imitation? Can self-sustainability be forged in these conditions? Is a kind of plagiarism via generational recurrence and resonance inevitable?

Cristiana de Marchi will moderate this panel with artist Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, anthropologist Beth Derderian, academic, curator and cultural producer Dr. Nina Heydemann and artist Hind Mezaina as they investigate the relationship between international and local systems and the risks of becoming derivative in attempts to forge both an individual and a shared artistic identity. 


Tuesday, 7th February, 7pm at DUCTAC's Art Forum  

The Validation System: Self-Sustainability Or Foreign Acknowledgement?  

As local artists forge internationally renowned careers, what balance can be struck between the local and the global? What defines success across different audiences and for the self? Can a career be made locally or is engagement with international narratives always necessary? What are the different tools of promotion and recognition available to local artists and how should they be combined? 

Cristiana de Marchi moderates a discussion between director of Art Dubai and former Editor of Canvas magazine Myrna Ayad, internationally published art expert, public speaker, and advisor to diverse arts initiatives Mahnaz Fancy, artist Alia Lootah and gallerist Isabelle van den Eynde as they consider the roles played by art fairs, institutional shows, biennials and artist residencies in the composition of a successful yet self-actuated career.  


Tuesday, 14th February, 7pm at DUCTAC's Art Forum  

The Valley In Between: Generational Disconnections, Divergent Agendas Or A Possible Continuity?  

As the cultural and social context of the UAE shifts perpetually, what are the threads of continuity that could make up a shared generational connection? Are there any common agendas between these divergent generations? As the infrastructure shifts, is there any possible continuity between the UAE avant-garde and the youngest generation of contemporary practitioners? What is inherited, shared and propagated? What is lost? 

Cristiana di Marchi moderates with artist Shaikha Al Mazrou, curator and writer Muhanad Ali (DUCTAC), curator of NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery Maya Allison and writer Kevin Jones in a discussion on generational disconnection and possibly sustained continuities.    


Detailed information about the artists and the speakers can be found on the exhibition's website The talks and the exhibition will be at DUCTAC, located in Mall of the Emirtaes in Dubai. 



Film screening: Björk: Biophilia Live and When Bjork met Attenborough


DUCTAC in Dubai is hosting a free screening of Björk's concert film Biophilia Live and the documentary When Bjork met Attenborough on Friday, 5th December at 5pm. 

The screening will take place in Kilachand Studio Theatre and admission is free, but you must register to attend (send an email to 

I must say it's a missed opportunity not to screen the films in DUCTAC's main hall, Centrepoint Theatre which I personally think is more suited for a film like Biophilia Live. Nevertheless, it's great the film will be screened here. It's received very good reviews and whether you're a Bjork fan or not (and how could you not be), don't miss the film and the documentary. 


Biophilia (duration: 97 mins) 


Biophilia Live is a concert film directed by Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton and produced by Jacqui Edenbrow that captures the human element of björk’s multi-disciplinary multimedia project: Biophilia.

Recorded live at Björk’s show at London’s Alexandra Palace in 2013, the film features Björk and her band performing every song on ‘biophilia’ and more using a broad variety of instruments – some digital, some traditional, and some completely unclassifiable.

The film has already been hailed as “a captivating record of an artist in full command of her idiosyncratic powers” (Variety) and “an imaginative stand-alone artwork” (Hollywood Reporter) and is a vital piece of the grand mosaic that is ‘Biophilia.’



When Bjork met Attenbourough (duration: 48mins)

Björk and Sir David Attenborough have long admired each other's work. In this remarkable documentary they explore our relationship with music and how it exists in the natural world.


If you can't make it, or not in Dubai, you can download/stream the film and the documentary here



Event details
Date: Friday, 5th December 2014 at 5pm (there will be a 20min break between the two films)
Venue: Kilachand Studio Theatre, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
Free admission, but registartion in advance is necessary. Send an email to  


The Animals and Children took to the Streets at DUCTAC

1927 is an award winning theatre company known for their shows that mix live music, storytelling and performance with animation. They will be performing their critically acclaimed show The Animals and Children took to the Streets at DUCTAC this week, from Thursday 23rd till Saturday 25th February.   

The Animals and Children took to the Streets tells the story of Agnes Eaves and her daughter who live in Bayou Mansions, a decrepit tenement block with a sinister air. The imaginary setting emphasises the timeless nature of its themes, as the characters navigate government oppression and the paranoia of inner-city life. Visually inventive and filled with live music and song, this show doesn't rely on the English language and is suitable for a wide age range.


Looks like it will be a lot of fun to watch live. Here's the trailer: 



Here's a short video featuring Suzanne Andrade from 1927 talking about the show.  



The Animals and Children took to the Streets looks like it's a must see. If you are in Dubai, try not to miss it.


Event details
Thursday, 23rd February at 7.30pm
Friday, 24th Februay at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Saturday, 25th February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Venue: Kilachand Studio, DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai (location map)

Ticket: AED 80


Almost, Maine at DUCTAC

Drama Dubai's Desert Players is a not for profit group on a mission to raise the standard of local theatre and to nurture a growing theater scene in Dubai without having to outsource the talent from the UK which is what every other production in Dubai does.

For this Valentine's Day week, they present us with Almost, Maine - a play by John Cariani from 14th-18th February at DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates.

About Almost Maine  (via

On a cold, clear, moonless Friday night in the middle of the night, all is not quite what it seems in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, residents of Almost find themselves in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways. Knees are bruised, hearts are broken. Love is lost, found, and confounded. But the bruises heal and the hearts mend - almost.



Event details
Dates: 14th-18th February
Tickets: Show only AED 100 per person
         Valentines Dinner and Show on 14th February, AED 415
         Dinner and Show 16th-18th February 310 AED
Venue:  Play at DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates (location map)
        Dinner at K-Grill, Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates

Tickets available online at TimeOut Tickets or at the DUCTAC box office.


Mine - exhibition of films at DUCTAC

Robin Rhode - Untitled (Air Guitar), 2005. Super 8 film transferred to video. 

The Gallery of Light at DUCTAC will be hosting Mine, an exhibition of films by 17 South African including internationally-renowned artists William Kentridge and Robin Rhode. The exhibition will open 18th January and will run till 4th February.

Mine is curated by South African artist, photographer and curator Abrie Fourie, who explains the concept behind the exhibition: 

The title refers not only to the idea of deep level mining, but to the concept of personal ownership. The works featured have been chosen for their diversity, with the common denominator that the artists make reference to themselves in their work, either in person, as actor, model, observer, interviewer or instigator. Mine seeks to explore the myriad ways in which we identify and position our ‘selves’.


List of artists:


Robin Rhode - Untitled (Air Guitar), 2005. Super 8 film transferred to video.


Robin Rhode - Untitled (Air Guitar), 2005. Super 8 film transferred to video.



Event details
Date: 18th January - 4th February 2012
Opening night: 18th January, 7.30pm
Venue: Gallery of Light, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates (location map)
Free entry.


Ang Lee Film Festival at DUCTAC


DUCTAC is hosting a festival dedicated to Ang Lee from 3rd-5th December. Don't expect to watch Brokeback Mountain, but the festival will include Ang Lee's legendary New York University graduate school thesis work Fine Line. I hope this is a start of special mini festivals that deal with retrospectives of certain film directors and genres.

If you've not been to DUCTAC, I suggest you use this as an opportunity to go. I couldn't ask for a better venue to host this festival, the Centrepoint Theatre at DUCTAC is the only proper theatre in this town and it's quite charming.


Screening schedule:

3rd December at 7pm  - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Li Mu Bai’s mission to recover a magical sword that has suddenly disappeared is made all the more difficult by his love for Yu Shu Lien. Set in the final glorious years of the Qing dynasty, the film features blistering martial arts scenes, remarkable acting and breathtaking visuals.

Winner of 80 awards, including the Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Director and the Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Original Score. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

December 4th December at 6pm - Sense and Sensibility (1995) 

This wonderful adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel follows the Dashwood family, who are almost penniless after the death of their patriarch, and the romantic fortunes of sisters Elenor and Marianne as they support one another through death, hardship and heartbreak.

Winner of the BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globes for Best Film – Drama and Best Screenplay. Nominated for seven Academy awards, including Best Picture.


4th December at 8.30 pm - Fine Line (1984)
Lee’s 1984 graduation thesis film draws on his Taiwanese Heritage in its portrayal of migrant Americans in New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy. This 43 minute film about a Chinese-American girl and an Italian-American boy won The New York Film Academy’s awards for Best Film and Best Director.


5th December - Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

Mr. Chu, the greatest living chef in Taipei, has struggled with his three grown and rebellious daughters since his wife died years ago. When nagging widow Mrs Liang moves in next door, everyone wonders if she could be suitable for Mr. Chu; but then pregnancy, separation, death and true love all come along.

Nominated for the Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.Winner of Best Film at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and Best Foreign Film at the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards



Event details
Date: 3rd-5th December 2011
Venue: Centrepoint Theatre at DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates (location map
Phone: +971 4 341 4777 
Free entry
For Ages 16+ (except 5th December, 18+)


[image of Ang Lee via musicloversblogspotcom]


MinD - Made in Dubai 2011

The 2nd edition of the MinD (Made in Dubai) exhibition opens today at DUCTAC (Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre) and will run till Sunday, 20th March 2011. I took part in the first MinD exhibition last year and I'm honored and happy to be selected for this year's edition. It also includes my brother, Khalid Mezaina and artists that live, work and produce art in Dubai.  

Curated by Ebtisam Abdulaziz, the theme for this year's exhibition is City's Dialogue and includes work exploring themes of city life, environmental degradation and the impersonality of modern lifestyles.
List of artists:
Alia Lootah | Amna Al Madani | Barbara McGivern | Basem Alsayer | Carolin Kropff | Hind Mezaina | Huda Saeed Saif | Julia Townsend | Khalid Al Banna | Khalid Mezaina | Maisoon Al Saleh | Majida Nasreddin | Maryam Al Qassimi | Muna Abdul Qader Al Ali | Nasir Nasrallah | Paolomaria | Raymond Prucher | Salem Al Mansoori | Sarah Lahti | Zeinab Al Hashemi 

The exhibition will feature artworks in a range of media including video, installation, painting, graphic art, sculpture, photography and performance art. The works will explore contemporary reality through site-specific installation.

Visitors will receive a map of the centre, which they will use to explore and find the artworks in unconventional locations throughout both the buildings in the DUCTAC complex (on level 2 of Mall of the Emirates).

Here's a selection of the artwork. 

© Salem Al Mansoori - Pattern System (video)

© Alia Lootah - Anonymous (photography)

© Zeinab Al Hashemi - Marked Down (scanography)

© Khalid Mezaina - Vibrant Future (digital screen print)

© Hind Mezaina - The Shopping Cart Series (photography)


Event details:
Date: 10th March, 7-10pm Opening. Exhibition will run till 20th March 2011.
Venue: DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates 


Film Screening - Pink Saris 


To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, the British Council will be organising free public screenings of the film Pink Saris by UK director Kim Longinotto, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women over the years and the British Council in the UAE will join organisations globally, and in the United Arab Emirates, to promote and create awareness of women’s issues.

“The British Council is passionately dedicated to raising awareness of social issues and how those could impact society at large. The film screenings of Pink Saris aim to do just that, by recognising the need to share experiences and approaches in order to tackle the continuing inequalities and discrimination faced by marginalised groups in societies worldwide.”
Michel Bechara, Director of Projects, British Council UAE

Event details:

Abu Dhabi
Cinestar in Marina Mall at 9pm (contact for seat reservation)

Centrepoint Theatre, DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates at 8pm (contact for seat reservation)

Shelter, Maraya Art Centre in Al Qasba at 8pm (contact for seat reservation)

All three screenings are complimentary, but seats are limited, so make sure you make a reservation.

Internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto's Pink Saris is an unflinching and often amusing look at the all-woman vigilante Gulabi Gang in Northern India and their charismatic leader, Sampat Pal, who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

"A girl's life is cruel...A woman's life is very cruel," notes Sampat Pal, the complex protagonist at the center of Pink Saris, internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto's latest foray into the lives of extraordinary women (Sisters In Law, Divorce Iranian Style, Rough Aunties). Sampat should know -- like many others she was married as a young girl into a family which made her work hard and beat her often. But unusually, she fought back, leaving her in-laws and eventually becoming famous as a champion for beleaguered women throughout Uttar Pradesh, many of whom find their way to her doorstep. 

Kathakbox by The Sonia Sabri Company

Kathakbox is the latest production from Sonia Sabri Company, one of the UK’s most dynamic dance companies making it's way to Abu Dhabi and Dubai next week on 26th and 28th February. The show celebrates the unique, diverse energy of modern urban spaces through a brand new dance style: Urban Kathak.

Kathakbox brings together Indian Kathak dance’s grace, vigour and the rhythms and rhymes of Hip Hop culture.  Complex percussive patterns converse with beatbox and the verbal dexterity of Kathak rap (Kavitt) layers with urban poetry.

Kathakbox does not ‘box in’ these genres to a particular time or place, but discovers the raw spirit and heartbeat of each art form which reverberate between cultures.  Reflecting the diverse, intersecting rhythms of the human experience, Kathakbox encourages us to ‘think outside the box’.

(If you are not familiar with the traditional form of the Kathak dance, here's a small introduction.)

The production coming to the UAE will feature artistic director Sonia Sabri performing with four highly talented artists: tabla maestro Sarvar Sabri; acclaimed spoken word artist Zena Edwards; dynamic B-Boy Nathan Geering; and beatboxer Shan Bansil.

I'm so glad to see contemporary dance shows in our theatres, I went to Akram Khan's Vertical Road in Abu Dhabi last week and loved it (except for fact that I was surrounded by a few idiots with loud clicking cameras and loud phone rings). I looking forward to Kathakbox and I just hope the audience will be better behaved.

Event details:
Abu Dhabi

Saturday, 26th February at 7pm
The Abu Dhabi National Theatre (location map)
Tickets: AED 50 (buy tickets online)
Phone: 9712 657 6333

Monday, 28th February at 8pm
DUCTAC, Centrepoint Theatre,  Mall of the Emirates
Tickets: Regular - AED 100; Friends of DUCTAC - AED 70; Student - AED 60
Phone: 9714 341 4777


Supershock vs Nosferatu 

Supershock vs Nosferatu is a mesmerising movie-concert which will see the critically-acclaimed Italian rock band Supershock play their brand new score live during a rare screening of director Friedrich Wilhelm Muranau’s 1922 vampire masterpiece Nosferatu (ranked 21 in Empire magazine's 'The 100 Best Films of World Cinema'.

This show is coming to Dubai and is happening on 26th November in one of my favourite theatres in Dubai, DUCTAC's Centrepoint Theatre.

It's must for fans of classic cinema and contemporary rock music alike and recalls the enchantment of the beginning of the 20th century, when film projection was accompanied by an orchestra playing live in the cinema hall.

The band Supershock was in Dubai last year for Supershock vs Metropolis which I enjoyed immensely. So this one should be good. Sadly I will be missing it because I'm not in Dubai this week, but you know I'd be there, front row and centre if I was.

People of Dubai, please don't miss this.



Event details:
Date and time: 26th November 2010 at 8:00pm
Location: Centrepoint Theatre, DUCTAC in Mall of the Emirates
Phone: 971 4 341 4777
Tickets: Regular AED 100, Friends of DUCTAC AED 70, Student AED 50
Online ticketing outlets: