Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary With A Glittering Line-up To Mark First Decade

10 January 2022

Located at the historic Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village in Ras Al Khaimah, the Festival showcases satellite exhibition locations in the viewing platform at the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais, and Al Marjan Island’s serene Open Park.

• Festival line-up continues in accordance with Covid guidelines.

• Free public events, tours, workshops, entertainment, and activations taking place every weekend throughout February.

• The event will welcome 150+ artists from 45+ countries.

• The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, organized by the Al Qasimi Foundation, and presented by Marjan.

• Festival dates: 4 February to 31 March, 2022.

The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) will celebrate its 10th edition in 2022 as the new year opens the UAE’s arts calendar. Under the theme ‘The Journey’, the Festival celebrates 10 years of the much-loved exhibition and the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates. Artists will share their interpretations of what this theme means to them through the lens of ancestry, migration, national identity and personal growth.

The annual arts Festival, which was established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, will open to the public on Friday, 4 February at 8:30pm and run until Thursday, 31 March, 2022, with all international standard Covid-19 safety guidelines firmly in place.

The historic Ras Al Khaimah pearling village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra will once again provide the central backdrop for the Festival, having been its home for the past three years and standing as a critical bridge between Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene. Once again, 2022 will see exciting satellite exhibition sites in some of the emirate’s most iconic locations: the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais and the Open Park on Al Marjan Island.

The free-to-attend outdoor exhibition of art, photography, and sculpture, will present a diverse collection of artworks from over 150 artists hailing from more than 45 countries. There will also be a vibrant program of film screenings, workshops, guided tours, and other events held across the Festival’s various locations.

The grand opening on February 4 will begin the Festival which sees new partnerships with Cinema Akil, the NYUAD Art Gallery, and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, reaffirming the Festival’s commitment to connecting and developing the UAE’s wider cultural community.

The US Mission to the UAE will provide a range of performances in addition to playing a pivotal role in the cultivation of early and mid-career talent through its grant program. The US Artist Grant, established in 2016, is one of the many ways the US Mission seeks to better connect Americans, Emiratis and their vibrant cultures in the hopes of establishing a broader and deeper mutual understanding. Past Grant Artists have included Robert Clark, Kiliii Yuyan, Karen Knorr, Guy Brookshank, Meghan Walsh, and Anastasia Mak. This year, the Festival will be exhibiting the works of two American artists based in the UAE to explore the country through their eyes, Kirsten Decker and Selma Ćatović Hughes.

Speaking ahead of the Festival’s opening next month, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, comments: “The 10th year of Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival is a momentous occasion and a cause for great celebration, coinciding as it does with the UAE’s 51st year and as we look ahead towards a bright future for our nation. Arts and culture are vital components in humanity’s ongoing pursuit of greater togetherness and tolerance, as these fields promote the virtues of dialogue, collaboration and understanding, which remain a constant means of uniting humanity. The Festival provides a platform for artists from all over the world, as well as our local talent and community members, to come together in a unique location to converse, to forge bonds and to learn, all through the medium of art and culture.”

The Festival’s Director, Suqrat bin Bisher, comments: “After the success of last year’s Festival which played a truly important role in bringing the community together in spite of a global pandemic, we are excited to reach this 10th year in which we celebrate togetherness, humanity and Ras Al Khaimah’s role in the world of art and culture.

“It is a truly inspiring program at a range of iconic locations which we are equally as excited to showcase as part of the Festival. Our stunning natural landscape offers the perfect backdrop for open-air events from film to exhibitions in addition to helping us broaden the Festival’s reach to those who may not otherwise have discovered us.”

Art, photography and sculpture: RAKFAF seeks to support the social and cultural development of Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE by nurturing emerging talent. This year’s Festival will showcase the work of more than 100 local, regional, and international artists.

The Festival’s featured artist for 2022 is award-winning Emirati photographer, Yousef Al Zaabi. Born and raised in Ras Al Khaimah, the talented young photographer specializes in portraiture and street photography and has had his work featured on the cover of National Geographic Arabia in addition to dozens of exhibitions around the country and abroad. The Founder and President of the Emirates Falcons Photography Society and the Vice President of the Union of Arab Photographers, he is a key figure in the UAE’s developing arts scene. Yousef Al Zaabi’s exhibition can be found in the fort.

This year’s guest curator is Sharon Total, an independent art curator, based in Tel Aviv. Having earned his Master’s Degree in Policy and Theory of the Arts at one of the most prestigious art academies in Israel: the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, Total spent a year of museology studies at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where his mentor was the Head Curator, Yigal Zalmona. Now owner and curator at The Lab, one of the only art spaces dedicated totally to experimenting art, its boundaries,

definitions, concepts and visual outcomes, he works with 12 artists each year, cultivating new and upcoming talent. Raised in France and Israel his vision is to build artistic bridges that will overcome the socio-political and geographical crises facing the world of the 21st century, using art to connect humanity as one, a platform to express and unite beyond politics and religion.

A special exhibition from the Al Qasimi Foundation, Travel in COVID, chronicles life worldwide in the wake of a pandemic. How has the pandemic shaped our experience of the world? How has Covid-19 affected our mobility? How do individuals navigate journeys marked by rapidly changing rules and regulations? Curated by Suqrat Bin Bisher, Azza Al Nuaimi, and Ji Young Kim, the exhibition held at AQF Villa surrounded by a specialty cafe, will showcase an immersive art experience, including mixed media photography and journal entries.

Film: In association with Cinema Akil and Vox, the Festival will host a diverse array of short films from the region and beyond including documentaries, foreign language and drama. Outdoor screenings will be hosted by Cinema Akil at Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village between 11-13 February with indoor screenings at VOX Cinemas on 28 February and 4 March. Local and international featured films include ‘Why is My Grandfather’s Bed in Our Living Room?’, directed by Emirati Sara Alhashimi, ‘Everyday, Except Sunday ’directed by Luis Carlos Soto Ruiz from Guatemala, and ‘Luminary’, directed by Nada Jahed from Jordan.

Cultural weekend: The Cultural Weekend is set on the last week of February. Highlighting and celebrating the UAE’s diversity and rich culture, this weekend includes Ghawa (Arabic Coffee) making, traditional storytelling, camel rides, and an immersive local theatre performance from the talented members of the National Theatre of Ras Al Khaimah.

Pet friendly weekend: Another Festival highlight is the Pet Friendly Weekend on the 2nd week of February. Businesses and organizations from across the UAE will travel to Al Jazirah Al Hamra to provide workshops for pet lovers, pet centred events, and stalls including pet yoga, paw print moulding, portraiture drawing and pet adoption from Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Center (RAKAWC).

School program: A diverse school program will offer youth from around the country an opportunity to be immersed in the world of art and culture. For many children, the Festival allows them the chance to meet and learn from some of the most talented artists in person through interactive workshops and informative educational sessions. For more information on this or to request a school visit for your school please contact Ms Jackie Koba on jackie.k@alqasimifoundation.rak.ae

RAKFAF Curatorial Development Program: A special new program is launched this year in association with the New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. The Curatorial Development Program is part of RAKFAF’s efforts to support young people and the next generation of creative talent in the UAE and aligned with the Al Qasimi Foundation’s mission to enhance educational and professional development opportunities in the Emirate. Recognizing the sparsity of opportunities for curatorial training and the need for a generation of UAE-based curators to herald the blossoming creative scene into the next 50 years, the Curatorial Development Program provided a four-month mentorship program to a young, prospective curator and an opportunity to host their exhibition as part of the 10th annual Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival. The inaugural young curator for the pilot program was Indian creative researcher and designer and long-time UAE-resident, Abhirami Suresh. The RAKFAF Curatorial Development Program exhibition can be found in Bayt 8.

Guided tours: A historical tour of Al Jazirah Al Hamra Heritage Village, led by the Department of Antiquities and Museums, will be held on 13, 19 and 27 February. A walking tour of Old Ras Al Khaimah’s food and heritage sites with Festival guides will also take place on 11, 18 and 26 February, starting at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salim Al Qasimi Mosque.

Virtual tour: A virtual tour of the Festival will be available online after the Grand Opening on Friday, 4 February, to make the Festival accessible to those not able to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fynd.art web application for contactless information: This year’s Festival will once again use Fynd.art, a digital companion for the exhibition. The innovative and easy to use web application with image recognition and object detection will allow visitors to receive contactless artwork and exhibitor information through their smartphone while viewing the exhibition, and without a download or registration. www.fynd.art

The 10th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival is organized by the Al Qasimi Foundation, presented by Marjan, and supported by additional local partners including Stevin Rock LLC, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), RAK Ports, RAK Tourism Development Authority, RAK Hospitality Holding, RAK Transport Authority and Vox Cinemas.

Arch. Abdulla Al Abdooli, CEO of Marjan, the Presenting Partner, said: “The tenth anniversary of the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival is a true milestone for the Emirate, underlining its steadfast support to promoting arts and culture, and to nurture creative talent. The event has contributed tremendously to shaping a vivid cultural tapestry for the Emirate that also serves as one of the key attractions for tourists from around the world. At Marjan, we are committed to supporting initiatives that add to our national and civic pride, and to build on the glorious heritage of Ras Al Khaimah.”

To attend any of the workshops, activities, tours, or film screenings, reservations should be made directly by visiting rakfinearts.ae. The Festival is open during the day Tuesday to Thursday 8am – 6pm and until 10pm Friday to Sunday, with extensive social distancing in place. Please note that workshops, tours, and screenings will have limited capacity, adhering to all safety guidelines.

For more information on the Festival, please visit www.rakfinearts.ae or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. RAKFAF is free to the public.

Subscribe to our newsletter

We do not share your information with any third party
Please enter a valid email address

The form contains errors

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.