Comment: 27 June 2024

This week’s editorial musings

Abu Dhabi Art en route to Kerala Two of Abu Dhabi Art’s 2023 exhibitions, Beyond Emerging Artists (work by Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby, and Latifa Saeed, all last seen at the Venice Biennale) and Gateway: Maqam (Hashel Al Lamki) are to be shown in Kochi’s rather good Durbar Hall exhibition space, seen most recently as part of the Kochi Biennial. The shows are a partnership with the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi and Rizq Art Initiative, a newish art space in Abu Dhabi that itself presents artists from the Global South. They will run 12 July to 15 August.

Headcounting Back home, we have been browsing the preliminary 2023 Abu Dhabi census. Takeaways: 1. The population of the emirate has grown massively since the last census (the 3.8m people here represents an 83% increase on 2011). 2. They’re mostly male (67%) and young (median age 33): 3. Just under half are married (most of the women are, most of the men aren’t). 

Middling-to-happy people And Abu Dhabi ranks No.113 (out of 250) in the World’s Happiest Cities index. Dubai is at 90, Sharjah 140. (Aarhus is No.1.) 

Follow the money Lots of those happy people will be millionaires, apparently – 6,700 of them will be moving to the UAE this year, says Henley & Partners’ Private Wealth Migration Report, which makes this country the preferred destination for the mobile wealthy (second place was the USA, a long way behind with a mere 3,800 millionaires moving there by the end of 2024). 

Around 128,000 of the world’s millionaires are migrating to a new country this year, says the report, so the UAE is getting only 5% of the total even though it’s leading the league. And where are they all coming from? China heads the projected net outflows of millionaires, with 15,200 of them moving; the UK comes second, at 9,500.

Good news and bad news The UAE is to provide $25m worth of emergency food assistance to people affected by the conflict in Sudan. About 17.7m people in Sudan and another 7.1m in neighbouring South Sudan face acute food insecurity as a result of the ongoing civil war. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs thanked the country for its “generous contribution”.

In other news, the government of Sudan last week accused the UAE of fuelling the 14-month war in Sudan by supplying weapons to the so-called Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary force at war with the Sudanese government.

Build it and they will come Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a hyperactive tech-focused performing arts centre in Qiddiya, the entertainment, sport and cultural destination it’s building 40 km outside Riyadh. 

The Qiddiya Performing Arts Center is 500,000m² of spectacular architecture, including a massive rooftop garden; the aim is to host more than 260 performances a year – plus gaming and e-sports – in its three theatres, each of which promises an immersive experience by blending physical and digital elements: things like VR, AR, and (of course) AI. 

A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests 260 performances means a bit less than two a week in three venues, which isn’t quite so impressve … 

They’re talking about 800,000 bums on seats annually, which according to the back of our envelope implies standing room only every show. Good luck with that.

There’s also no word on when those seats will be available. Certainly the satellite pics we looked at show little building activity on the site. But it’s all about making lots of noise, isn’t it?

Last-chance opportunities Several of the open calls listed on our Opportunities page are closing at the weekend, so be quick if you’re interested in providing cartoon-type illustration for Corniche 6: designing AED 120,000 worth of public-realm furniture for Dubai Design Week: finding other outlets for your talents at DDW (admittedly some of these give you more time): or submitting pics for a share of the HIPA competition’s $1m prize pot, the biggest in world photography competitions.

Notional office space wanted Our friends at the Karama Arts Club are in the final stages of securing a non-profit licence to become Dubai’s first arts NGO, but they’ve hit a (small) roadblock: they’re required to register an office address as the Club HQ, but this space cannot be leased or owned by anyone on the KAC Board. The Club won’t actually use the space, they just need a registered office (along with a no-objection letter which will emphasise that the tenant will bear no responsibility for Karama Arts Club or its activities). If you can help, contact Clare on +971 50 144 1769.

Not-Wordle game of the week Find the missing vowels. Much, much harder than it sounds.

Things we didn’t know, no.94 Cats only meow at humans, not other cats (because they have much better – and more subtle – ways of communicating with other cats).

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