by Ayesha Shaikh
  • 2 minute read
  • October 10, 2019
Here’s All You Need To Know About The UAE’s Al Burda Initiative That Celebrates Islamic Art And Culture

At the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD) in Abu Dhabi, we learnt about the Al Burda initiative, one that will offer scintillating insight into the rich, culturally significant works of Islamic art through a festival, an endowment and an award. “The Al Burda initiative has a few branches; the first one is the bi-annual festival, which took place in 2008 and the next one will be held in Dubai in 2020,” His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al Qasimi, Assistant Under Secretary of Heritage and Arts at MCKD, told Villa 88.

The event, which was addressed by Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, brought together three out of 10 artists who were recipients of the Al Burda Endowment last year; Pakistani artist Aisha Khalid, Emirati product designer Aljoud Lootah, and Fatima Uzdenova from Russia.

“Since its inception, Al Burda has grown as an initiative that champions Islamic art and culture, encompassing both classical and contemporary styles,” HE Noura said in a release. “With an aim to foster creativity while introducing younger generations to diverse disciplines of Islamic art and culture, Al Burda is a testament to our leadership’s commitment to building a greater understanding of our shared culture.”

From Aisha’s exquisite interpretation of Islamic traditions through miniature paintings to Fatima’s installation depicting the Islamic concept of a garden, the works will be unveiled during Abu Dhabi Art, starting 21 November.  “The Endowment artists’ works will be showcased at Abu Dhabi Art in November and then transferred to Alserkal in Dubai in March. After that, we’re looking to take these works outside of the UAE in a traveling exhibition,” shared HE Sheikh Salem.

Al Burda, which began as an award in 2004, is back as a more strident, multi-pronged platform to cement the UAE’s position as a global hub for Islamic cultural production, which now spans several mediums. “The third aspect of the initiative is the award on calligraphy, ornamentation and poetry, which has been present for the last 15 years. This will be ongoing,” stated HE Sheikh Salem. “We have one side that’s pushing the boundaries on contemporary art, and another one that’s preserving the Islamic tradition in the arts.”

Other artists who are a part of the Al Burda Endowment are Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Khalid Al Banna and Ammar Al Attar, Saudi Dana Awartani and Nasser Al Salem, Zoulikha Bouabdella from Algeria, and Hong Kong’s Stanley Siu. “Overall, the Al Burda initiative focuses on the beauty of Islam and the different facets of Islamic culture. It’s not only about calligraphy, ornamentation and poetry, but also design and gastronomy,” added HE Sheikh Salem.

“We’ll talk about Islamic food and its influence, we’re also looking at Islamic films and publications. Last year, we had an Islamic Jazz band during the event, which was astonishing for many people. A part of this initiative is to preserve traditional art, and the other is to open the faucet and see what will come out when we talk about contemporary art.”

Images: Supplied and @Alburda_uae

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