Top 10 events in Dubai in 2009

Didn't have a chance to share this earlier, but here is a list of my top 10 events in 2009 in Dubai (including one in Abu Dhabi). What was your favourite event in 2009?

1. Dubai International Film Festival: 9th-16th Dec 2009
This is the only week when cinephiles in Dubai are treated to regional and international movies and documentaries and I love losing myself watching movies during this festival and falling in love with some gems. Hands down it is my favourite week in Dubai and you can read my complete review here.

2. The opening of The Empty Quarter
Earlier this year saw the opening of The Empty Quarter, the only gallery in Dubai devoted exclusively to fine art photography. This made my day and I love the work they show. Here are two exhibitions that stood out for me.

Dubai Transmutatations: 20th Oct-28th Nov 2009

A very unique photographic project by French photographer Martin Becka captured Dubai using techniques that date back to the very beginnings of photography. The images of modern Dubai were captured with a wooden photographic tool of a very large format on negative waxed papers, using a process invented approximately 160 years ago by Gustave Le Gray. The photographs were then printed on albumin paper and toned with gold. It was fascinating seeing images of modern Dubai taken using ancient techniques.

The Dark Lens - The Dubai Invasion: 8th-31st Dec 2009

A quote by Geoff Manaugh "..perhaps one might only half-jokingly suggest that people build cities today in order to live inside science fiction films" was included in the exhibition invite. Cedric Delsaux's final installment of his Dark Lens trilogy dealing with the fact and fiction of modern urban space captures Dubai like we've never seen before. His attempt to approach Dubai using cinematic futurism as a tool to get a grasp on the present is very fascinating and done in the most seamless way. He describes the feeling he had as if walking around in a gigantic set for a science fiction film "I instantly knew that all the characters from the Star Wars galaxies would be at home here." He’s right, it almost feels like the aliens will feel right at home should they decide to pay us a visit. But not sure how much would they would enjoy themselves.


3. The Fridge Music Concert Series: Oct/Nov 2009
I missed the first season during the summer, which got rave reviews, so I made sure I didn’t miss the second series after the summer. Tucked away in a warehouse in Al Quoz and with an eclectic weekly line up that included jazz, opera, hip hop, piano recitals and even aerial dancing - the intimate setting made everyone leave feeling like they attended something special. Look out for the next series that will start mid January.

Facebook Group: The Fridge
Twitter: @TheFridgeDubai


4. Mahmovies: Music for the Eyes and Black and White Glory:  Jan/Feb and Nov 2009

   Image from thejamjar

  Image from thejamjar

Curated by award-winning filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour and held at thejamjar, these movie nights were always packed with people cramming for space on a beanbag. The Music for the Eyes series included live music and discussions and proved to be very popular. It showed how much Dubai needs free and informal events like this. The Black and White Glory series was just as popular, although I only attended one week. We are all now waiting for the 2010 edition of Music for the Ears series. Let the music play.

5. Supershock vs Metropolis – 17 Nov 2009


Supershock is an Italian rock band who create original soundtracks for some of the most significant silent movies from the 1920s. We got to experience them playing live during the screening of Fritz Lang’s classic Metropolis at the theatre in DUCTAC. It was intense and was also very fitting to screen a movie like Metroplis in Dubai. Most importanly, it was proof that the best way to watch a silent movie was exactly like they did in the old days - accompanied by an orchestra playing live in the cinema hall. I want more of this to happen in Dubai.


6. Womad in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain: 23rd-25th Apr 2009

Photo  by Hind Mezaina

Photo by Hind Mezaina

This was the first Womad event held in this region and the three-day event was held in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and saw a crowd turnout like we’ve never witnessed before. A truly cosmopolitan crowd at an event of world music - the rich and poor, the young and old and even the conservative and not so conservative, all gathered and had one thing in common, enjoying live music. We rarely see such a turn out at other events, but this one really did strike a chord. I only attended the concerts in Al Ain and loved the performances by Dulsori from Korea, Rizwan Muazzam Qawwali from Pakistan and Dhafer Youssef from Tunisia. But what made this event truly special for me was being so moved by seeing such a fantastic mix of people all sharing a wonderful experience.


7. A Night of 1000 drawings: 24th Nov 2009

Photo by Hind Mezaina

Photo by Hind Mezaina

An event that originated in South Africa - a one night exhibition of original artwork on A5 sheets and sold at a set price and all proceeds go to charity. Everyone is welcome to create their own piece of art on A5 paper. The Dubai chaper of A Night of 1000 Drawings was held at Art Sawa gallery and all the proceeds were donated to Gulf For Good who will use the funds towards the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund for medical equipment, Dubai Autism Centre & Dubai Special Needs.

I was delighted when I was invited to be one of the photographers to take part in the book that will be launched this year, showing all the artwork photographed across the city in urban surroundings. It was such a fun night, with 1000 drawings covering all the walls, live music, live doodling and it ended by releasing flying lanterns courtesy of Glowskies. It was also good to see a lot of the work was bought which meant a good amount of money was collected.


8. Various photography exhibitions in 2009

Community 366

Richard Allenby-Pratt’s series of images depicting his neighbourhood was in complete contrast to the slick and new Dubai everyone normally sees. His series took a detailed look at the way his urban environment matured with time; how humanity imprinted itself through adaptation, adornment and self-expression; and how neglect added a further textural layer. The photos were presented as large-scale prints on simple wooden screens in an area of disused land, adjacent to the beach in the same neighbourhood. The aim was that anyone visiting the beach will be free to take a minute to wander around the pictures, and perhaps be encouraged to take a walk around the neighbourhood and appreciate its unique atmosphere and its significance in the greater Dubai landscape.


Dubai 1962

Image from DUCTAC

Image from DUCTAC

An exclusive collection of never seen before black and white photographs taken by a visiting Japanese reporter Kawashima in 1962 found their way from Japan to Dubai in 2009 and was exhibited at DUCTAC. The photos shows encounters with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, wanderings through the fish market and rides across the creek. They captured a Dubai that is long gone and probably difficult for many today to imagine. It was wonderful to see these photos and I think there will be a book launch of featuring the photos this year. Can't wait to get my own copy.


9. My Name is Robot – 19th Feb 2009

Voodoo by Hind Mezaina

Voodoo by Hind Mezaina

This was the first custom toy show we’ve had in this region, held at thejamjar. Robotandspark invited 37 regional artists, designers, typographers, jewellers, artists, sculptors, photographers and leading creatives to customize the 8-inch resin robots. Yours truly was one of the photographers and I was honored to be part of such a creative collective.

Here’s a video from the opening night and visit to know more about the project.


10. TEDx Dubai: 7th Oct 2009
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission "ideas worth spreading" and designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at a local level. So Dubai had its first TEDx event thanks to James Piecowye and Giorgio Ungania. It was an ambitious endeavor organised in a few months and they pulled it off. It was a slick operation, minus the corporate mumbo jumbo and some fascinating ideas were shared. The majority of the speakers were very good and everyone left feeling impressed by the event and inspired by the speakers. The venue was packed till the end and not one single mobile phone ring was heard during the event, which in itself is an achievement in Dubai. All the talks can now be seen online -