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MENASA – Emirati Design Platform at Expo 2020 Dubai

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MENASA – Emirati Design Platform at Expo 2020 Dubai


Dezeen promotion: Expo 2020 Dubai’s Design and Crafts Programme has launched a design platform to present more than 40 local and international designers who showcase stories from the UAE through exclusive curated collections.


MENASA – Emirati Design Platform is a core element of Expo 2020‘s arts and culture programme.

Running for the duration of Expo, from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, MENASA will be located next to Al Wasl Plaza, at the heart of the event.

A photograph of a person placing pearls into a decorative piece
The initiative intends to spotlight innovations in contemporary design and material use

The initiative will present the work of the 40 designers through a series of curated design collections that seek to tell stories about the UAE while spotlighting innovations in contemporary design and material use.

“The content that we are bringing to Expo through MENASA is innovative, intriguing and will surely capture the hearts and imaginations of our visitors,” said Dr Hayat Shamsuddin, senior vice president, arts and culture Expo 2020 Dubai.

MENASA will also showcase Craft Stories, a series of diverse collections that tell the story of the UAE through crafts and tradition, including safeefa (palm frond weaving), talli (embroidery), sadu (bedouin weaving), gargour making (wire-crafted fish traps), pearl diving, clay and coffee making.

A photograph of a pearl in an oyster
Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates the work of Emirati designers and craftspeople

One of the Craft Stories collections on display is 8,000 Waves: The Pearl Diving Story – a collaboration between Todomuta, a Spanish design studio, and Asateer, an Emirati design studio founded by Mohammed Al Suwaidi, who is the grandson of a pearl diver. Together, they have created a collection that includes a wall sculpture, limited-edition candle holders, and incense burners.

Crafted in stainless steel and inlaid with wave-like patterns of mother-of-pearl cut from locally farmed oyster shells, the collection tells the story of pearl diving, a practice that dates back approximately 8,000 years in the UAE.

The works will be shown alongside a series of documentaries, shot on location around the UAE, that will delve into the work of the artisans and the crafts highlighted within each collaboration.

A photograph of a person holding a pearl
The collections will be shown alongside a series of seven short documentaries

MENASA – Emirati Design Platform’s Designer of the Week aims to show the variety of the Emirati design scene, highlighting the work of 24 designers and organisations from across the UAE, many of whom will present new collections created for MENASA.

MENASA’s space at Al Wasl Plaza will feature a dramatic 13-metre display designed by Carmelo Zappulla and Rami Al Ali, which blends 3D printing with local crafts. All of the exhibited collections will be available for sale.

A photograph of a sculpture by a Dubai-based designer
A wall sculpture is crafted in metal and inlaid with wave-like patterns of mother-of-pearl

“Crafts have a special, innate power to communicate a local culture, a nation, and its identity,” said Samer Yamani, MENASA curator and creative director.

“Taking a poetic approach, we are using craft as a communication tool and merging it with design, new technologies, and materials to convey more stories of the UAE and to intensify the experience for our visitors through our exclusive design collections.”

A photograph of the Dubai sea
MENASA – Emirati Design Platform intends to bring Emirati crafts and design to the global stage

The selection of designers, artisans, and crafts organisations at MENASA – Emirati Design Platform is drawn from 11 countries.

UAE designers and organisations include Alia Bin Omair, Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts, Bil Arabi, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Ammar Kalo, Khalid Shafar and Tashkeel.

International designers and design brands include Estudio Campana (Brazil), Klove Studio (India), and Nicolas Jebran (Lebanon), BD Barcelona Design (Spain) and Iwan Maktabi (Lebanon).

 MENASA – Emirati Design Platform will be open daily for the duration of Expo 2020 Dubai, from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

More information about Expo 2020 Dubai is on its website.


Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Expo 2020 Dubai as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.



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