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Inspiring spaces

The region’s arts and culture scene is packed with exhibitions, events, workshops and numerous spaces dedicated to creativity, carefully curated to serve the UAE’s burgeoning art community

Alserkal Avenue

Since opening in 2007, Alserkal Avenue continues to expand at an impressive rate and in a number of awe-inspiring ways. Growing with the city’s cultural community, the original layout that once featured 20 warehouses now stretches across 500,000 square feet. Not only is it home to a number of emerging and established galleries, but the area has become synonymous with homegrown cultural initiatives and inventive public spaces. From painting sessions at The Jam Jar and film screenings at The Yard to shopping for quirky interiors at The Odd Piece, there’s plenty to pique your interest. On March 19, Alserkal Avenue will be hosting a free-to-attend Galleries Night, from 6pm to 10pm, allowing visitors the chance to view the art hub’s latest exhibitions. 

Dubai Design District

Home to some of the city’s coolest get-togethers, think Fashion Forward and Sole DXB, Dubai Design District, or d3, continues to impress with its remarkable portfolio of activities and events. Since the launch of its first phase in 2015, d3 has gone from strength to strength, offering an all-encompassing experience within a stylish space that includes everything from design institutions and offices to hospitality and retail boutiques. The area has become a stomping ground for the city’s creative crowd as well as individuals and families looking to immerse themselves in its arts and culture vibe. Here you’ll find a range of facilities designed to encourage a neighbourhood feel – from attractive co-working spaces for hire to The Block, a recreational site along d3’s waterfront that features entertainment areas, climbing walls, an urban beach, a skate park and much more. 

 Sharjah Art Foundation

Bordering the emirate’s lively creek and port district, Sharjah Art Foundation centres around three main public quarters – Al Mureijah Square, Calligraphy Square and Arts Square. Located in Sharjah’s Arts and Heritage Area, a buzzing art scene has breathed new life into the neighbourhood, offering a fascinating juxtaposition between its cutting-edge cultural community and historical origins. Visitors will find a range of interactive and engaging classes on offer, with recent workshops being as diverse as creating ceramic crockery, as well as studying composition in painting and cubism art techniques. The recently launched Rain Room installation is another popular attraction, as visitors wander through the immersive space in a downpour of continuous rain without actually getting wet, thanks to the innovative use of motion sensors. The 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial, titled ‘Leaving the Echo Chamber’, also gets under way on March 7, exploring migration, interpreted histories and societal change in relation to rapid technological advancement in the information age. 

 Manarat Al Saadiyat

Billed as one of the capital’s most loved hubs for art and community events, Manarat Al Saadiyat encompasses Abu Dhabi’s vibrancy and cultural energy. The first artistic venue to open on Saadiyat Island, which now also boasts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat offers a range of insightful exhibitions, talks and workshops across various venues, including a modern arts and culture centre, several gallery spaces and a theatre. Not only can visitors discover regional and international talent throughout the year, they can also explore their own creativity through initiatives that have been designed to encourage community participation. We recommend popping into the Art Studio, a multidisciplinary space that offers drop-in sessions and classes with topics that range from art and science to figure drawing and printmaking. If you’re looking to incorporate some movement into your visit, try a parkour workshop or tango lessons. The fortnightly Music Jams sessions also bring a variety of music genres to life by supporting established and amateur musicians. 

 Qasr Al Hosn

Following years of construction and renovation, Qasr Al Hosn – Abu Dhabi’s oldest heritage site and home to the city’s first permanent structure, the watchtower – opened its doors to the public in December last year. A year-round tourist destination for cultural discovery, archaeological insights and architectural research, visitors can, quite literally, step back in time to uncover the hidden depths of this historic icon and marvel at the impressive display of artefacts and archival materials dating back to 6000 BCE. There is a packed programme of events the whole family can enjoy, including a Guards March and Guards Closing Ceremony taking place daily at 4pm and 6.50pm, respectively. There will also be traditional dance performances and poetry recitals throughout the day. The House of Artisans celebrates the creative and artistic relationship between the people of the UAE and the country’s natural resources. Thanks to the country’s diverse landscapes – from desert to oases and the sea – artisans have developed a plethora of skills to meet functional and economic needs. The Cultural Foundation, meanwhile, celebrates art and literature with a series of events that include exhibitions, book clubs and workshops. 

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