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His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi will open the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF)

Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival

His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi will open the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF)

The 7th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) is opening to the public this evening with a red-carpet event, which will be attended by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler or Ras Al Khaimah, VIPs, artists, collectors and hundreds of art lovers. The Festival, which this year is being held with the scenic backdrop of Al Jazirah Al Hamra Old Town, celebrates the evolving arts scene in the Emirate and champions local artistic talent.  Showcasing the work of some 70 artists, from local to regional and international names, the Festival will run until February 28th, with an extended outdoor art exhibition running until April 20th, 2019.

The open-air exhibition brings the recently restored and charismatic coastal village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra Old Town back to life with colourful contemporary art on display and the stars shining above – perfectly representing this year’s Old Meets New theme. The Festival’s sculpture works, film screenings, and workshops will be located at the National Museum, notable as the childhood home of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, where the Festival had been held in the past.  RAKFAF is an initiative of the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research. 

In preparation of the opening, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, said: “I am pleased to be opening the 7th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival tonight, which has done so much for evolving the Emirate’s art scene, supporting local talent and in igniting a real passion and enthusiasm for the arts among the people of Ras Al Khaimah.  The Festival plays a major role in supporting the social, cultural and economic development of the Emirate. The array of artwork on show highlights our past and present, bringing our traditions, successes and visions to centre stage. Hosting these kinds of events helps to give people a voice, and it is through these voices that the strength and beauty of Ras Al Khaimah shines.”

Suqrat bin Bisher, Director of Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival Arts, and Culture Director of Al Qasimi Foundation, commented: “Since its inception, we have been proud to see the immensely positive impact RAKFAF has had on the community in Ras Al Khaimah. It is fantastic to be able to curate a festival that celebrates artistic innovation and reignites the passion for arts. Encouraging artists to cultivate and express their creativity is something we continuously strive to accomplish.”

The works of more than 70 artists will be on display at RAKFAF 2019, including a host of new and established local, regional and international creators.  

Among the local Emirati names on view are: Amani Al Mansoori, whose work has previously been on display at the Al Qasimi Foundation’s Studio and Gallery; Helima Al Shehhi, whose impressive modern sculpture entitled Soul is on show this year; and Maryam Al Mutawwa and Noora Al Shehhi, who will return to the festival once again.

Karen Knorr is one of the star international names on view – and she is this year’s Honorary Visiting Artist whose participation has been supported by a grant through the U.S. Mission in the United Arab Emirates.  The US photographer is known for her thought-provoking photographic style, and she will be conducting a workshop sharing her remarkable experience in the field of Fine Art Photography.  The Festival will also feature the work of UAE-based British photographer Gillian Robertson, and U.S-based Colombian artist and returning RAKFAF 2018 award winner, Leonardo Montoya.

RAK Fine Arts Festival 2019 - Jazirat Al Hamra
RAK Fine Arts Festival 2019 – Jazirat Al Hamra

In addition, the Festival’s outdoor film screenings will feature two documentaries shown on February 22nd and 23rd from 7:00pm to 8:00pm, at the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, which are produced through the Festival’s 2018 film grant competition. Aminah, which is an experimental biography of Emirati poet Ahmad Al Assam, who has lived his entire life in Ras Al Khaimah, portrays intimate spaces around the emirate that have inspired his poetry on family, loss, love, and country. The film is directed by Rebecca Beamer, who is a professor at the American University of Sharjah and award-winning documentary filmmaker, book artist, and Fulbright Fellow with 15 years of experience in documentary television at National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discovery, and PBS. Grain of Sand is a documentary about the music and heritage of Bahraini pearl divers told through the eyes of British Musician and filmmaker Jason Carter. The documentary captures the cultural heart of Bahrain by channelling music to explore intercultural dialogue and tackle identity, culture, and heritage in a fast-developing region.  

The Festival is supported this year by local partners Marjan, Al Hamra Real Estate LLC, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), Ras Al Khaimah Tourism and Development Authority (RAKTDA) and the Department of Antiquities and Museums, Government of Ras Al Khaimah. 

Abdulla Al Abdouli, Managing Director & CEO of Marjan, one of the Festival’s Platinum sponsors, commented: “Ras Al Khaimah is an Emirate filled with history and an abundance of talent, and we are delighted to be part of a Festival that showcases fine arts and contribute to the UAE’s art scene. The initiative will further energize our tourism sector by promoting Ras Al Khaimah as a destination to explore and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our nation.”

The Festival is free to the public and will run until February 28th, with an extended outdoor art exhibition running until April 20th, 2019. For more information please visit www.rakfinearts.ae and follow us on the RAKFAF Facebook.

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