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HE Ali bin Thalith on ‘Tolerance, Has History’

Within Art Dubai will be an exhibition of rare photography from the Private Collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and Patron of the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA). Under the title of ‘Tolerance, Has History’, the photography exhibition presents a compelling visual narrative of the region’s social fabric in the 1960s and 1970s and the values on which the United Arab Emirates was built.


Art Dubai talks to His Excellency Ali bin Thalith, spokesperson of HIPA:

These images are from the personal collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – have they been exhibited before?

As part of the Dubai Photo Exhibition (DPE) where photography from around the world was presented. A selection of photographs from His Highness collection were displayed as part of the UAE Pavilion.

Why did HIPA decide to exhibit them now?

Year on year, Dubai Culture and the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award continue to work alongside each other to nurture and develop Dubai’s Art Season. This year being the ‘Year of Tolerance’ and the theme of ‘HOPE’ for HIPA’s awards made the perfect platform to present the collection.

1960's, The Fujairah fortress which dates back to late Islamic era, has been renovated on more than one occasion.

The exhibition celebrates tolerance as a virtue, which is one of the foundations of the current UAE. Is there a particular image that you would say really embodies tolerance?

Tolerance is woven into the fabric of the UAE society and is reflected in the whole collection and embodied in the Spirit of the Union.

As well as the value of tolerance and the wisdom of the nation’s leaders, the exhibition also sheds light on what life was like in the 1960s and 70s, how important is that in the context of Art Dubai, where many visitors will be from overseas?

The United Arab Emirates is home to many nationalities and cultures, but indeed this exhibition will be of great intent to overseas visitors attending Art Dubai. It provides a unique insight into the historical foundations and the nature of the tolerant and cooperative social fabric that led to the establishment of a pioneering state in all fields including artistic and cultural field, paving the way for open dialogue.

1960's, The city of Al-Ain witnessed a big wave of urbanisation and development when Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the ruler’s representative in Al-Ain.

Even many residents of the country will not know much about what life was like back then, in that respect how much is this considered to be an educational exhibition?

The United Arab Emirates always shared its rich culture and history with its residents; be it through education, media, entertainment, museums or cultural villages.

For many residents this photography exhibition will re-iterate what they already know, but they will see photographs that until now had not been seen as part of this Collection.

Finally, what does the collaboration with Art Dubai mean for HIPA in general? 

Art Dubai and the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award continue to collaborate on projects in an effort to nurture the art and culture within the region and beyond. Both entities are committed in establishing the industry by supporting artists and creating a positive community.

A souq in Sharjah in mid 1960s, showing a taxi driving by.

1960's, Water was often extracted from these water wells, which were no deeper than the height of a man, for domestic use and washing.

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