magpie is an information hub, commentator, advocate and general observer of the burgeoning arts and culture scene in the Gulf.

The subhead – arts performance words design – summarises our spheres of interest. magpie aims to deal with topics that …

  • feature conscious use of skill and creative imagination;
  • go beyond the ordinary to eliciting a reaction from the audience and/or the participants;
  • match creativity with originality, imagination with ideas, technique with realisation;
  • do not have financial or commercial reward as the exclusive or even the prime driver.

Within those broad outlines we regard our territory as including …

  • architecture
  • ceramics
  • crafts
  • decorative art
  • design in general
  • drawing
  • filmmaking
  • glass engraving
  • graphic design
  • interior design
  • jewellery
  • metal engraving
  • music (most genres)
  • painting
  • photography
  • printmaking
  • sculpture
  • video

… but we’re always prepared to cover anything that fits.


We divide magpie into a number of functional areas:

  • The Agenda: diary dates for events in and around the Gulf (we do include some dates from Oman, Bahrain and Qatar). Typically these will be performances and exhibitions (including ‘last chance’ notifications).
  • Open Calls: our selected list of opportunities for creative practitioners in the region. We include open calls, competitions, residencies and more as we hear about them …
  • Features: news, previews, reports and reviews from the arts/culture/performance/design scene. We aim to cover every significant local event in our field, and we also run substantial features characterised by editorial research, local relevance and entertaining writing.
  • The Longlist: our rolling and regularly updated directory of organisations, services and venues.


Because a magpie is intelligent, distinctive, loud, and generally noticeable; and because a magpie is a collector of interesting things. All of those are aspirations for us.


Around a third of the population of the UAE comprises expats and locals in white-collar jobs. They are typically educated to college level, have a relatively high disposable income, and combine an international appreciation of culture with a commitment to and enthusiasm for their current local environment. These are people who understand that entertainment, engagement and intellectual or imaginative stimulation doesn’t have to involve imported American pop stars and luxury brands.

Is that you? If so, you’re in the right place.

magpie speaks your language. We don’t expect that every reader will find everything we write about to be of direct relevance; we do expect that they will embrace the principle, share the vibe, and simply enjoy the look and feel of what we do.


We want to be easy to access. So we have a number of ways of delivering information and comment:

  • magpie nest Our website, which where you probably are right now. This is where we keep everything we write, much of what we know and most of what we claim. Browse around and you’ll see what we mean.
  • magpie weekly Our email newsletter, a weekly dose of brief comment and story links. This quick catchup is what you need to stay abreast of what’s happening and what we think about it. It’s free. And short.
  • magpie agenda weekly Our other email newsletter is our what’s-on guide — the best of the upcoming arts/culture/design activities. Free, of course, and full of clickable links for more info and (where appropriate) instant booking.

Coming one day real soon now:

  • magpie podcasts We have three in development, all free, monthly, and about 30 minutes in length. They’ll be available as mp3 downloads from the website and also distributed via iTunes subscriptions.
    • magpie roundup — what’s happening and where. News, previews, reviews, interviews, chat
    • magpie jazz — focusing on local artists and local gigs. Interviews, news, lots of music
    • magpie design — news, comment, interviews and opinion about the incipient but booming design scene here
  • magpie apps Currently we’re working on a version of magpie agenda for iOS and Android — a complete what’s-on event calendar, delivered to your phone as a regularly updated information service with reminders, favourites, and direct links to booking sites