Sharjah shines light on Arab art

SHARJAH: It doesn’t have the malls of Dubai or the mega-projects of Abu Dhabi, but Sharjah has carved out a role for itself as a cultural capital.
The unassuming emirate is ruled by Shaikh Sultan bin Mohamed al Qasimi, known for his keen interest in art and history.
Its cultural calendar has evolved to feature book fairs, exhibitions at more than a dozen museums and festivals that celebrate photography, theatre, poetry and calligraphy.
At the Museum of Sharjah, works on display showcase everything from daily life in the Old City of Yemen’s capital Sanaa to a massacre of refugees by fighters during Lebanon’s civil war.
“We are providing an artistic service for the Arab world,” said Sultan Sooud al Qassemi, a well-known Emirati academic with half a million followers on Twitter, strolling through the galleries.
The Barjeel Art Foundation which he founded in 2010 aims to preserve and exhibit more than 1,000 modern and contemporary pieces by Arab artists.
“Sharjah is not the richest emirate in the Gulf, but it is in terms of being the richest culturally,” said the 42-year-old who has taught in universities in the United States and France.
Sharjah is one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, an innovative country which has poured huge sums into culture.
In 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a branch of the iconic Paris museum, opened its doors — attracting some two million visitors in its first two years of operation.
The financial and entertainment hub of Dubai hosts a number of contemporary art galleries, and is next year to host the multi-billion-dollar world exhibition — Expo 2020 — with major arts components.
But it is Sharjah, that has claimed the country’s cultural crown. — AFP