It’s impossible to tour the world without visiting Dubai. The international travel hub is home for more than a hundred nationalities, which makes Dubai a melting pot of cultures. Whether it’s for trade shows or transit, what attracts tourists and professionals from all walks of life is Dubai’s ability to grasp global trends, offer excellent customer services and a lifestyle experience that is taking over the American Dream. It’s worth mentioning that Dubai offers what no other country alone can. Not only has it the World’s biggest dancing fountains and World’s largest fish tank at the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa standing 828m high makes the tallest building in the World while Jumeirah Beach Residence marks World’s biggest residential project.
Magnificent attractions and holiday packages aren’t the only factors that make Dubai ‘Top Ten Places to Visit before you Die.’ While the government remains firm in its laws and values that define UAE’s culture, the festivity lies in organizing events and granting foreign residents the freedom to celebrate their culture and traditions. This year Dubai has hosted one of the most awaited events on the cultural front. Opened today, This is Palestine: A Cultural Week is being held at Meydan Theatre for a week. The event organized by Alhoush.com, the premiere e-commerce portal for Arab artists and designers, in partnership with Dubai Art Week and the United Nations Development Programme features Palestine’s top world-renowned musicians, theatre groups, stand-up comedians and hip hop artists for the first time.
Saher Micheal AlSous, an advocate of culture and peace in Palestine says, “Dubai is a cultural hub for the internationals and Arabs alike, which makes it a good opportunity for Palestinians to show the world a side of them that mainstream media is not covering or interested about. This is Palestine: A Cultural Week simply puts the peaceful and silent side of Palestine on the global front. It comes as a hope to Palestine for gaining positive projection and eliminate its image as a blood-thirsty nation.”
Under the Patronage of H E Sheikh NahayanMabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, the festival features more than 200 works of visual art, photography and design, on display and up for sale. They include one of the most iconic paintings in the Arab world by Jamal Al-Mahamel. Alongside the exhibitions is a line-up of documentary films and world-class performers, including musical group Turab, stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid, actress Najla Said and hip hop artist Boikutt, many of them performing in Dubai for the first time.
Hoping to begin build a positive national Palestinian brand by showing the world the vast achievements and incredible creativity of the Palestinian people, Ehab Shanti, CEO and founder of Alhoush.com said, “The event offers a creative solution to badly-needed job creation in the Arab world. Palestinian artists and designers face major logistical challenges in promoting their work. Empowering them can open up career opportunities for thousands of young Palestinians, helping meet the need for 100 million new jobs in the Arab world over the next decade and contributing to long-term development in the region.”
To date, the Facebook event page alone has attracted about 9000 visitors out of which at least 40% have confirmed their visit while Twitter shows this event as one of the top followed in Duabi. According to Alhoush, the event aims to empower Palestinian artists and designers in the belief that art and culture can be a vehicle for job creation in the Arab world. The exhibition is open to everyone, which according to ordinary people, is why the event has gained instant popularity. Steven Charles Wilson, a resident of Dubai said, “One can practically navigate the world by reviewing world’s cultures. To be honest, I haven’t had much interest in culture and art. But since I have moved to Dubai, I have gained exposure to various cultural events that has inspired me to attend This is Palestine. Back in my homeland, there is a specific class that has the opportunity to attend high end events. The fact that Dubai is hospitable toward foreign residents has enhanced my customer experience, and I bet this event will add to it.”
Last weekend, Dubai closed one of the most important chapters in its cultural calendar; Emirates Airlines Literature Festival that created a platform for authors from world over to debate and discuss relevant trends and ideas. Some of the highlights included debate on exile with the Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh carried on by Iraqi author Alia Mamdouh while the Indian author Pankaj Mishra debated with the British journalist Jeremy Paxman about the legacy of the British Empire. Giving an insight on Dubai’s success in becoming a centre for writers and artistes, Zaffer Iqbal, Head of Masters Multi-Media department at National College of Arts Pakistan, and a frequent attendee at Dubai’s cultural events said, “The UAE federation is taking interest in developing its region into a global centre in all areas of interest. Compared to its famous shopping festivals and trade shows, the cultural events are gradually gaining popularity. Because the management is making efforts to providing outclass customer support to the cultural community, we foresee Dubai as an international platform for art dealers, writers, cultural advocates and so forth. This means purchase and selling of their work via web portals and negotiations which were not possible due to limited resources in developing nations. Through web portals and by exhibiting work through Dubai, we are able to lift up barriers and create channels to reach out effectively.”
Many hopes and aspirations are associated with This is Palestine: A Cultural Week. This, of course, gives Dubai a new subject to explore and build upon. Supported by seminar and a conference, the exhibition will premier full length documentaries on the largest screen in the Middle East and Asia. Not only will such events help bridge cultural gap, it is believed that the success of this event and those recently held will pave way to further boost Dubai’s hospitality industry.