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This series of talks features leaders and innovators from the worlds of art, business and philanthropy exploring the latest global trends.

Local Identity, Global Platform: In conversation with the Royal College of Art

Professor Juan Cruz and Santiago Reyes Villaveces discussed Santiago’s 2017 Art Dubai exhibit. Touching specifically on Santiago’s experiences of working in Colombia, the UK and UAE, they discussed the opportunities and challenges for artists to be responsive to local context, while maintaining a sense of global awareness and universal appeal.

Professor Juan Cruz is an artist and the Dean of the School of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Formerly he was Director of Liverpool School of Art and Design, where he developed innovative models of research and knowledge transfer with leading arts organisations, including Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial and FACT.

Santiago Reyes Villaveces received the Abraaj RCA innovation Scholarship in 2015.  His works — installations, sculpture, drawings and photographs — transform, determine, modify and interfere the space in which they operate, affecting the way the spectator occupies and perceives the physical and social space.

Sharjah Biennial 13

Sharjah Art Foundation President, Sheikha Hoor Al Qassimi and Sharjah Biennial 13 Curator, Christine Tohmé discussed the biennial’s title – Tamawuj – its conception, execution, participating artists and what it means to hold a biennial across different sites, over a period of one year.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, is a practicing artist who received her BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2002), a Diploma in Painting from the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2005) and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2008). In 2003, she was appointed curator of Sharjah Biennial 6 and has since continued as the Biennial Director.

Christine Tohmé is the founding Director of Ashkal Alwan, a non-profit organisation established in Beirut in 1993, which supports contemporary art practices through initiatives including the multidisciplinary platform Home Works: A Forum of Cultural Practices initiated in 2002, and the year-long study program Home Workspace Program initiated in 2011.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize: seepage / ritual

2017 Prize curator Omar Berrada and Chair Dana Farouki discussed the 2017 exhibition and commissioned work with winning artist Rana Begum, and short-listed artists Sarah Abu Abdallah, Doa Aly & Raha Raissnia.

Dana Farouki is an independent curator and collector of international contemporary art. Farouki was the first member of the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi curatorial staff, is on the Board of Trustees of MoMA P.S.1, Bidoun and Creative Time in New York and is the Founding Chair of The Guggenheim’s Middle East Circle.

Omar Berrada is a writer, translator, and curator. He is one of the editors of Tamawuj, the online publication of Sharjah Biennial 13, and is at work on projects relating to the archive of Moroccan writer and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani.

Winning artist of The Abraaj Group Art Prize this year, Rana Begum lives and works in London. Begum has been exhibited in global institutions including Parasol Unit, Royal Academy of Arts, and Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art to name a few.

Represented by Gypsum Gallery, Cairo, Doa Aly’s work spans video, drawing and performance, and has been exhibited internationally, including the New Museum, Tate Modern and the International Center for Photography.

Raha Raissnia creates complex works which combine painting, film and drawing. Much of her work is focused on exploring the intersection of these different mediums and how each informs the other in terms of their materiality and respective processes of making.

Sarah Abu Abdallah, is an artist and puzzle maker, working with video, installation, poetry and images. She is the recipient of Sharjah Art Foundation’s Production Programme grant (2016) in collaboration with Josh Bitelli for their project To Gaze at Ten Suns Shining.

Collecting: From a Private Passion to the Public Domain

Collector Mohammed Afkhami has created a remarkable collection of modern and contemporary Iranian art in just over a decade, with the collection having evolved from a passion for the aesthetics to the realization that Iran’s greatest contribution to the world has been its rich cultural heritage.

This panel was in conversation with Venetia Porter, Curator, Islamic and Contemporary Middle East Art at the British Museum and introduced by Henry Kim, Director at the Aga Khan Museum.

Mohammed Afkhami is a third generation collector of Iranian art, whose interests span from medieval to modern to contemporary.  His collection currently features in Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians at the Aga Khan Museum, and will be published in Honar: The Afkhami Collection of Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art (Phaidon 2017).

Venetia Porter is a curator at the British Museum where she works on the collection of Islamic and Contemporary Middle Eastern art.  She is currently the lead curator for the Albukhary Foundation galleries of the Islamic World which will open at the British Museum in Autumn 2018.

Henry Kim is Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, a museum whose mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi Director Manuel Rabate, and Cultural Advisor, UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs Dr. Zaki Nusseibeh discussed the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s opening, and what it means for the UAE and the wider region. The talk also touched on the architecture of the Jean Nouvel-designed building, key highlights from the collection and how the museum will facilitate the cultivation of an art-appreciating society.

Manuel Rabaté is director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. He has held positions at the Musée du Louvre and the Musée du quai Branly and was CEO of Agence France-Muséums, where he worked for eight years and which was established for the realisation of Louvre Abu Dhabi in partnership with leading French cultural institutions and museums.

HE Dr Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh is the Assistant Minister Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Advisor in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE. As a distinguished patron of the arts, he serves on several boards has been the recipient of various international and national awards.

Omar Berrada & Rana Begum

2017 Prize curator Omar Berrada in conversation with Prize winner Rana Begum about her career to date and the thoughts behind her winning piece.

Omar Berrada is a writer, translator, and curator. He is one of the editors of Tamawuj, the online publication of Sharjah Biennial 13, and is at work on projects relating to the archive of Moroccan writer and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani.

Winning artist of The Abraaj Group Art Prize this year, Rana Begum lives and works in London. Begum has been exhibited in global institutions including Parasol Unit, Royal Academy of Arts, and Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art to name a few.

The Role of Design Thinking in Sustainable Development

Mission-driven designers hold the key to effectively addressing some of the world’s toughest challenges. IDEO’s CEO, Tim Brown, gave insights on how better products, services, and experiences are already improving the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities around the world.

An industrial designer by training, Tim Brown, CEO and President at IDEO, has earned numerous awards and advises Fortune 100 companies. He frequently speaks to global audiences about the value of design thinking and innovation, and takes special interest in the convergence of technology and the arts as well as how design can be used to promote the well-being of people living in emerging economies.

Khawar Mann is Managing Director in Abraaj’s healthcare team. Mr. Mann was previously co-head of the healthcare team at Apax Partners leading investments across Europe and Asia. He was also Chairman and President of Medsi Group, Russia’s largest private healthcare sector institution. Mr. Mann is the co-founder of Mosaic, a UK-based charity that mentors young adults in deprived communities, for which he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Solar Impluse: Looking to the Future

André Borschberg, Co-Founder, CEO and Pilot at Solar Impulse in conversation with Frederic Sicre, Managing Director at The Abraaj Group.

In 2015, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg led a multidisciplinary team of scientists and innovators to complete the world’s first round-the-world solar flight. This conversation discussed breakthroughs in their research, and highlighted their perilous journey to promote the use of renewable energies to reduce our world’s consumption.

André Borschberg is an entrepreneur who conceived, with his team of engineers, a solar airplane of unlimited endurance and, alternating with Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit, successfully completed the first circumnavigation of the globe without a drop of fuel and establishing a world record by flying for the first time ever 5 days and 5 nights non-stop over the pacific ocean.

Marc Mandaba has 12 years of experience as an engineer and financier in private infrastructure development, including power and transport. He previously led business growth for Themis Energy through projects totaling 1550 MW across Africa. Mr. Mandaba previously worked for the African Development Bank and Bouygues Group, and was decorated as a Commander, National Order of Merit and Légion d’Honneur of the Republic of Ivory Coast.