Are you ready for a super long post?! We experienced so much during this delegation trip thanks to the fantastic organization of the UAE Embassy and Meridian International. The days were full of one incredible experience after another. Access to sites and locations we’d never have on our own, the incredible tour guides we had at many locations and SO much great food. Seriously, words cannot describe how much and how good everything was.
Every detail was planned out by the Embassy and Meridian, and their ability to adjust the schedule accordingly, because we photographers get distracted and take too long everywhere, was much appreciated. Leading a number of workshops every year, and, well, being a mother, I have to say it was so nice to sit back and not be in charge or have to plan anything for a full week. Thank you, thank you to the Embassy and Meridian!!!
Let’s get to all those great locations we saw 🙂
We spent the first 3 nights in Dubai but on day 1 we headed to Sharjah. The most conservative of the cities we visited and rich with culture. Our first stop was the King Faisal Mosque by Abdul Rahman Abdul Hafidh Al Junaidi. The sun was fleeting so first, you see the building with some sun and hence, shadowplay, then a b&w of a closer detail once I lost the sun.
And a huge thanks once again to Haitham Al Mussawi for getting those action shots and providing you all with some context, because as you know, not my forte.
We then checked out the Architecture Triennial, the first for architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North and East Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. We visited two sites with installations. The first was an abandoned market repurposed for this event. Great use of the space!
Details of a couple of the installations.
Once again, thank you Haitham for the wider context shot of that second installation detail above 😉 Also gives you more context to the detailed architectural shots. I keep thinking I’ll do better with these wider shots…clearly a work in progress!
The second Triennial stop we made was at the Al-Qasimiyah School. My favorite installation from a photographic point of view was this fabric roof which acts as a transitional area from the hot outdoor temps where you’re exposed to the sun to the air-conditioned gallery adjacent to this fabric roof.
Next up, a fantastic lunch. Yes, I should have taken more photos, but of course, didn’t forget to grab a phone shot of the dessert and their delicious tea. But trust me, everything was delicious and plentiful!!!
Then we walked off all that food with a great walking tour around Sharjah led by Reem Khorshid. And, well, you can enjoy my less than stellar phone shots since I left my camera on the bus 🙁
The Sharjah National Travel & Tourist Agency was a favorite during the tour.
Onto Al Serkal Avenue, an arts and culture district in the industrial zone of Al Quoz, Dubai. Full of warehouses filled with galleries and shops. Plus the newer addition by OMA, Concrete. While we were visiting it was being used as an exhibition space. However, the space is made up of rotating walls which can break up the space into multiple “zones” for various purposes. I was rushing to grab a couple shots and definitely had the wrong lens on to document this space, I needed something wider. But you get the idea and these doors are massive, simple and understated but beautiful.
Again, Haitham for the win capturing us inside the space during our tour of the area.
Not part of our tour, we stumbled into this gallery space, I think, with collector cars. While the cars were beautiful, what grabbed my attention was this great spiral staircase. Surprising, I know 😉
Then we had some fantastic chocolate at Mirzam Chocolate Makers. Again, forgot a photo, but next time I’m here I must try something called Drinking Chocolate. It’s like a very thick hot chocolate that looked amazing! Then we were off to dinner at the family home of Dana Al Marashi, Head of Cultural Diplomacy for the UAE Embassy. Her family was so gracious to host us along with some distinctive members of the UAE for dinner that night. As with all their dining experiences, the food was amazing and we were also in for round two of dessert after our chocolate stop 😉
What a crazy, amazing day! After crashing we were spent the next day exploring some of Dubai’s newer architecture.
First, the Etihad Museum which explores the history of the UAE. The word Etihad translates to ‘together’ or ‘join in one’ in Arabic, fitting for this museum. We had a great tour of the newer museum designed by Moriyama & Teshima and the historic Union House and Guest Palace, which you see below.
A look-up at the ceiling just inside the door. The color is obviously more representative of the space but I liked the drama with the black & white conversion.
Get ready for way too many shots of the Moriyama & Teshima museum. Let’s start outside…
A little peek at the Burj Khalifa in the background 😉
Now for the spectacular interiors! The lower level was so beautiful, the curves of the ramp, ceiling, display areas and that staircase…love! And, look at this, I managed some contextual shots!
Just love the ceiling!
This staircase…so beautiful, right?
Thanks again, Haitham for the group shots 🙂
Next up, the iconic Burj Khalifa, and still the tallest building in the world. We had a fantastic tour by the facilities manager who filled us in on all the inner workings of this building. Truly fascinating. As for photographing here, I really loved the detailed work on the ceiling. I know, strange that’s what I was drawn to here. But the interiors were all designed by Georgio Armani and they’re impeccable.
A couple views from the top, color version shot with my phone. I didn’t photograph much up here, just took in the view from the 124th floor observation area.
A couple look-ups from outside.
And Haitham catching us all geeking out over the view and presentation.
Just next door to the Burj was this finned building that I can’t seem to find the name of. But I did like the contast from sunny side to shady side.
I think we had lunch next and then headed to a tour of the 3D Office. It’s so crazy to believe this was created by a 3D printer and printed in just 17 days and constructed in 48 hours! Also, note the curved walls. From what they said in the tour there have been studies done on how this is calming to people inside the space. I can definitely see that.
All of us touring and in action via Haitham.
Now for a tour of the Musem of the Future designed by Killa Design. The museum is still under construction and slated to be done next fall in time for the World Expo. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the interiors and allowed to photograph but not share those shots from inside. However, here are a couple from the exteriors and the views from the top observation area (skyline view is a phone shot).
We ended our day with a tour of Jameel Arts Centre and were lucky enough to hear directly from the architect, Wael Al Awar, who collaborated with Serie-Architects. The museum has partnered with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcasing modern and contemporary art from the Middle East. The space is also meant to be a center for education and research. It’s located along the Dubai Creek and consists of 10 galleries with each clustered around a courtyard to give visitors a break from what they call “exhibition fatigue”. Such a nice way to combine nature and the manmade. We were here pretty late so it was quite dark and difficult to get good shots, but here’s one of the exterior just before we left.
And once again Haitham catching us exploring and having a little fun 😉
Another fantastic day in the books!
Onto our final day in Dubai, which started with a tour of the Al Shindagha Museum along the Dubai Creek. This space is so beautifully designed. Honestly, like every single museum we visited in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Al Shindagha focuses on Dubai’s history and culture. The first space we toured has this great video about the city and really well done interactive exhibition spaces. We also toured the perfume house. So fascinating to learn about and get to smell many of the things that go into perfume, which is a huge part of the Emirati culture.
Details below from yours truly and once again context via Haitham.
We then took an abra, a small boat, across the Dubai Creek to Old Dubai for another fantastic walking tour! You also may remember that’s where many of my Urban Quilt photos were made from last week’s post.
Onto lunch and a little exploring in the Design District, which is a newly designed development with only phase 1 of 3 completed so far It’s full of offices, shops and restaurants. The buildings all look the same from this phase and have fins on their exterior to provide shading to keep cooling costs down. A fun feature to play with.
We happened to be there during design week so there were art installations throughout the area from artists all over the world. This curvy pavilion was a fun one to shoot.
One wider phone shot, with the buildings framing the Burj 😉
And for our final stop of the day. We had the honor to tour the studio of famous Emirati painter, Abdul Qader Al Rais. He’s a founding member of the Emirates Fine Art Society and is one of the pioneers of contemporary art in the Emirates. Most of his work is abstract in nature and incorporates geometric forms of Arabic. He was very generous with his time and treated us to an extravagant tea time, as you can see from Haitham’s photos of our time there.
Thanks for sticking with me for this very long post. If you want to see absolutely everything, because there’s certainly much more than I shared here, here’s all of Sharjah and all of Dubai.
One more coming soon from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain!