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Public Art Abu Dhabi Launches To Boost The City’s Creative Legacy

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) has launched Public Art Abu Dhabi, an initiative aimed at advancing the cultural legacy of the emirate through the commissioning of public artworks. The project, which aims to improve the livability and infrastructure of the city, will receive an annual investment of over $35 million. The initiative will be made up of three long-term projects: Public Art Abu Dhabi Biennial, Manar Abu Dhabi, and direct artist commissions, each with the aim of preserving significant urban spaces and enhancing their value to the community.

Public Art Abu Dhabi Biennial, launching in November 2024, will be led by Reem Fadda, Director of the Cultural Foundation and Abu Dhabi Cultural Programmes, and independent curator Galit Eilat. The Biennial will feature a vibrant, inclusive, and varied selection of artists rooted in the UAE and the region, while also including artists from around the world.

Manar Abu Dhabi, another initiative under Public Art Abu Dhabi, will showcase light art sculptures and installations in the archipelagos and mangroves of Abu Dhabi, celebrating the natural beauty of the emirate. The platform will take viewers on an immersive water journey that connects the shores of different islands.

Additionally, a series of yearly direct commissions will be executed across Abu Dhabi's landmarks, including tunnels, roundabouts, bridges, and parks. Each artwork will find inspiration from the UAE capital's distinctive identity, further contributing to the cultural legacy of the city.

The initiative was launched on 20th March 2023 with the unveiling of WAVE, a public digital media artwork by the artistic collective D'strict. The installation, which uses an anamorphic illusion technique, recreates perpetually surging three-dimensional waves and was first showcased at COEX K-Pop Square, Seoul, South Korea. WAVE is a perfect representation of how the program hopes to engage the community with artistic expression infused with the emirate's cultural identity to provide a sense of belonging.

“Public art is where creativity and infrastructure meet, and Public Art Abu Dhabi represents our commitment to enhancing the urban and cultural fabric of the emirate, bringing artistic expression into the everyday lives of our residents and visitors," said HE Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, the undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, in a press release discussing the project. HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, added, "DCT Abu Dhabi’s promise is to promote, protect and progress the emirate and transform Abu Dhabi into a global center for culture."

Through Public Art Abu Dhabi, the emirate is set to become a leading cultural destination, supporting creativity and the arts, while enhancing the urban fabric of the city.

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