Dubai Culture Reflects on the Etihad Museum’s Calligraphy Installations by Wissam Shawkat

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 05 April 2017: The Etihad Museum offers visitors a rich and engaging visual representation of UAE history, from the pavilion to the landscape and the historic Union House. Adding to the fascinating layers of national meaning and symbols, visitors will find that five new calligraphic installations have been introduced to reinforce the museum’s unique identity and celebrate its rich display of the nation’s heritage and culture. The installations have been created by artist Wissam Shawkat – a master of Arabic calligraphy and graphic design.

The centrepiece of the magnificent collection is situated in the museum pavilion opposite the marble amphitheatre, and captures the opening quote of the United Arab Emirates Constitution in bronze. Bringing the Founding Fathers’ words and devotion to life, and displaying the solid foundations of the nation for all to see, the installation reads:

"We, [the Rulers of the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah;] whereas it is our desire and the desire of the people of our Emirates to establish a Union between these Emirates, to promote a better life, more enduring stability and a higher international status for the Emirates and their people."

By immortalising these monumental words, casting them in lasting bronze, and showcasing the beauty of Arabic calligraphy, the installation reflects the purpose of the museum, which is to enrich the public’s understanding of the 1971 Union Agreement, tell the story of the birth of the UAE, and both preserve and celebrate Emirati heritage. The installations invite visitors to share in the nation’s rich history and also strengthen civic pride in the Arabic language – the cornerstone of UAE culture – via stimulating visual displays that demonstrate the power of the written word for putting forth momentous ideas that are bound up with Islamic heritage and the region’s cultural and social identity.

Wissam Shawkat fell in love with the calligraphic art form at the tender age of 10, when his childhood teacher wrote four Arabic characters on a blackboard during an art class. He has since developed a unique style that borrows from both the exquisite craftsmanship of traditional practitioners and the vibrancy of contemporary culture, ensuring that calligraphy entrances the largest possible audience across various international cultures, while remaining true to its classical origins. Wissam Shawkat is an Iraqi national but is now based in Dubai; he has showcased his work internationally and his Etihad Museum collection is testament to his outstanding skill.

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