Art Hub Liwa

I was invited to live and work in Liwa for one month during the Al Dhafra Camel Festival, as an opportunity to learn about the relationship between the Bedouin and the camel and create paintings on this theme.This residency, organized by Art Hub, the first artist community to be established in the United Arab Emirates.

There were 25 artists from 11 nations who participated in the residency. We spent our first ten days attending the camel festival where we went to a camel beauty competition, camel races and a traditional souk. We were also invited as guests to the Mazrouei international camp. It was at this camp where, sitting around a fire in the desert, I learned  that the UAE would not exist today were it not for the camel.

For my part, I wanted to show the integral relationship between the land that is now the UAE and the camel. I used the camel to design a pattern, which pieced together forms the body of this desert land. The title for my painting, “describe to me the desert” is from a poem by the late Emirate poet,  Ahmad Rashid Thani.

Which wave/ They describe to me the desert/ And forget the grain of sand/ In a wave that still runs by the sea/ They describe my many steps/ On the shore/ While the sea does not know/ In which wave it had drowned

In the past, the Bedouin peoples’ survival depended on the camel. Camels can regulate their body temperature, go without food or water for long periods and provide milk, which made it possible for the Bedouin to travel across the desert. For instance, moving from the date palms gardens in Liwa  in the fall and winter to the Gulf for pearling during the summer months. That is why the Emirate people honour the important role the camel played in their history with festivals such as Al Dhafra. Without the camel, their ancestors wouldn’t have survived here and their descendants wouldn’t be enjoying the prosperity they now share.


Media: Gulf News, 11/02/15

Art Hub Liwa