In our mission to bridge Khaleeji Culture, inspire, and enlighten our Readers, we’ve introduced a new series of articles. Titled Panorama, these articles will spotlight and feature a mix of different Khaleeji personalities from the Gulf and give you a sneak peak into their world. If you’d like to nominate someone to showcase on Panorama, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s Panorama participant is Jalal Abuthina, a Photo Artist based in Dubai whose famed for not only being the first person to conduct a photo shoot on the roof of Ski Dubai but also for winning the first Red Bull creativity competition in the Middle East/North Africa region in 2004. You can find his work showcased in most major galleries in Dubai as well as internationally.
1) Tell us about yourself…
I’m an independent photo artist who has been a property consultant for the past 5 years in Dubai. I was born in Dublin,Ireland, to an Irish mother and Libyan father. I grew up between various places around the world that include Ireland, Libya, Greece, Australia and Canada. I also spent a lot of times on planes and have been a habitual day dreamer for as long as I can remember.
Although I studied business and I'm a property consultant by trade, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I am what people would call an “artist” at heart. When I was around 23 I got my hands on a camera for the first time and suddenly things started making more (and less) sense. I am entirely self taught, and my work tends to flow in and out of different genres, styles and themes.
At the moment I am working between the property market and some freelance photography projects. When it comes to my personal work, I usually only produce a handful of projects each year.
2) Best accomplishment till now?
I would probably have to say setting up an installation at one of Dubai’s beaches on a crowded Saturday morning and leaving it there for a few hours. The installation was a mannequin angel with an intimate message written on her top. No one has ever really done something like that in Dubai before, and it really moved people who saw it in a positive way and just changed the normal (and predictable) beach experience that everyone expected to have that day. I myself had never done anything like that before, and even though I imagined doing it, I was always too scared of the gravity such a situation would create.
For me the whole experience made me realize that this was what I wanted to do. And more importantly,that I could do it. I think moments like that come along only so often in someone’s life. Accomplishing or realizing that was a major deal for me because even though I was doing things that made sense to society and to people’s expectations, I was never really doing anything that made sense to me as an individual.
3) What do you like most about your hometown?
The variety of cultures, the food, the transience, the complexity, the fact that every few weeks the landscape changes, the sun, the beach, family, friends, my stereo, my local supermarket. All the familiar things. My family moved here in 1992 and even though I went to high school and university abroad, Dubai is where I would always come home to.
4) Best places locally in Dubai:
*To eat? My favorites would probably have to be Karachi Darbar restaurant – all over Dubai, Chalet restaurant on Jumeirah beach road (best grilled chicken in Dubai), Ostadi restaurant in Bur Dubai. Pretty much anywhere I can get fantastic food at for a reasonable price and don’t have to be conscious of making a mess and getting my hands dirty.
* To Shop? Are you kidding me? Its Dubai! 😉
*To People watch? Club 400, it’s quite the show.
*To Soak up some culture? That’s a really tricky question because culturally, Dubai is a very complex and unique place. But off the top I would have to say it varies between the malls, watching the (pimpin) rides going up and down Diafa street on a Thursday night, going for a walk around Rashidiya and hitting some of the shisha spots around the Diera cornice/souk area.