The opening of the 19th Edition of Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival was announced today at the press conference held at the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information. Mohammed I. Al Qaseer, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Farah Qassim Mohammed, Islamic Arts Festival Executive addressed the audience.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah, the Cultural Affairs Department at the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information has organised the 19th Edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival. The festival will commence on December 14, 2016 and run until January 24, 2017. The new edition's theme, 'Bunyan,' serves as a concept to unite artists.

image Mohammed I. Al Qaseer, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

Mohammed I. Al Qaseer, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs said, "It gives me great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome for having you here in Sharjah to participate and share the 19th edition of Islamic Arts Festival. Thank you all for coming, it's a pleasure to have you all artists, journalists, intellectuals and art enthusiasts among us here in this huge celebration of art as we announce the opening of the current edition of Islamic Arts Festival. We really appreciate your great interest and your remarkable contributions which constantly inspire us and guide us in our endeavors.

Under the generous patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival continues to prove once again its undisputed success and prosperity over the past years. The Festival is inspired by His Highness's wise vision to maintain and preserve Islamic arts, and so was the inauguration of the Islamic Arts Festival first edition, and the editions that followed after, to proudly witness today the opening of the 19th edition of Islamic Arts Festival. During the next few days you will be introduced to a group of remarkable artistic experiences from all around the world."

image Farah Qasem Mohammed, Islamic Arts Festival Executive / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

Farah Qasem Mohammed, Islamic Arts Festival Executive remarked, "We are excited to reveal the near opening of this year's highly anticipated art event, the new edition of Islamic Arts Festival, which comes under the theme 'Bunyan'. For several months we have worked hard to identify and choose this year's theme and highlight its philosophical concepts as well as its visual impact. The festival features distinctive artworks and installations that are conducted by creative artists and architects from different parts of the world. Their remarkable artistic creations reveal their own vision and perspectives of Islamic arts, as they employed structure in their artworks, revealing the unique characteristics and aesthetics of Islamic Arts. We have chosen 'Bunyan' because we are extremely taken by the greatness of this entity, and by the amazing expressive manifestations of Islamic art. Since its beginning, Islamic art embodies a way of life; its symbols indicate its unifying characteristics, besides the passion, the spirituality, the originality, the light and the tranquillity that can be traced in all its various types and styles. Architecture however, resembles one of its main remarkable entities."

Bunyan is the Arabic word for 'standing structure,' 'forming construction,' or 'man-built creation,' which sets it apart from the word 'architecture.' The concept of architecture is about meeting certain social functions and human necessity, whereas the art of architecture is an introduction of creativity, composition, and motifs to create an unambiguous identity, whether religious or social. In this edition, the concept of Bunyan has been deconstructed to rebuild a discourse through visuals in the realm of contemporary Islamic arts.

image From the press conference / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

image Farah Qasem Mohammed with some of the participating artists / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

The 19th Edition of Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival will host 364 activities in the form of exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. More than 20 organisations assisted in the coordination of the festival projects. There will be 42 exhibitions, of which 34 will be at the Sharjah Art Museum, presenting works of artists from 21 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, neighbouring Arab countries, and other countries from around the world.

From the eight parallel exhibitions, three will be exhibited at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Al Noor Island, and the College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Sharjah. The Al Majaz Waterfront will host two exhibitions, and Calligraphy Square will host three exhibitions. The number of participating artists has reached 64, and the number of artworks presented will be 232. A dialogue between the artists and the audience will also be arranged, during which the artists will discuss the experiences that encouraged them to create contemporary visual art.

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