December may be the most magical time of the year – the weather is perfect, there are festive vibes a-plenty and the last month of 2019 also offers a wealth of art and culture happenings all over the Emirates. From film premieres and photo walks to the region’s leading footwear, fashion and lifestyle festival and many more, this month’s guide covers all corners.
So what are you waiting for? Get stuck in…
Note: We will keep this guide regularly updated with any confirmed events as the month gets underway, stay tuned.
CELEBRATE THE SPIRIT OF THE UNION AT LOUVRE ABU DHABI, NOVEMBER 29TH TO DECEMBER 2ND
This long National Day weekend, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has put together a special programme of performances, activities, workshops and interactive tours to immerse you in the rich heritage of the nation and celebrate 48 years of the UAE.
Visitors can enjoy a contemporary pop-up performance inspired by traditional Bedouin Sadu weaving; family workshops under the dome about Emirati crafting techniques; mini interactive tours in the galleries; and storytelling sessions about the wonders of the desert.
When: November 29th to December 2nd
Where: Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi
CINEMA AKIL AND SOLE DXB DEBUT A CURATED FILM PROGRAMME, NOVEMBER 25TH TO DECEMBER 3RD
This year’s Sole DXB lineup will feature the festival’s fifth consecutive tie-up with Dubai’s original independent cinema platform, Cinema Akil. The 2019 collaborative film programme will showcase four unforgettable stories of music, culture and legacy.
The collaboration kicked off at the end of November with the screening of Vibrations, a film that follows its director’s “journey in Kingston, Jamaica in the form of a cultural exchange with local youth through music.” It continues this month at Cinema Akil in Alserkal Avenue before finishing at Sole DXB 2019 in d3.
On December 3rd there will be two screenings at Cinema Akil. The first (at 7pm) is the documentary Life and Debt, “which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalisation policies on a developing country such as Jamaica”. Immediately after, (at 9pm on December 3rd) the highly-anticipated documentary, Martha, which follows the life and work of renowned New York City photographer Martha Cooper, will be screened.
The project will culminate on December 5th when two films will be screened on the main stage at Sole DXB. The first is a short film entitled FLIGHT, which follows a youth from inner-city Kingston, Jamaica, who dreams of flying to the moon and it will be followed by the documentary RUDEBOY, a film “about the origins and ongoing love affair between Jamaican and British Youth culture.”
When: November 25th to December 5th
EXPERIENCE LUXURY WITH A CURATED FILM PROGRAMME AT THE DUBAI LOUVRE, DECEMBER 4TH TO DECEMBER 18TH
Inspired by its ongoing exhibition entitled 10,000 Years of Luxury, the Louvre’s curated film programme continues this month with a varied selection of films “featuring luxury in the world of fashion, in art and museums.”
The December programme begins on the 4th with the classic romantic heist comedy How to Steal a Million, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. The film follows Hepburn’s character as she enlists O’Toole’s character to help her try to save her father’s reputation by stealing back his forged statue from a Paris museum.
Documentary film Time Thieves follows on the 11th. The doc “travels the globe to investigate how time has become money […] and how we can claim back control over this previous but finite resource.”
The programme will be rounded off with the screening of Paul Anton Smith’s film essay Have You Seen My Movie? on the 18th. Featuring clips from over 1,000 films, the video aims to create a new cinema experience — “told entirely with found footage, [it] is a love letter to the magic and power of cinematic experiences as shared by strangers in the dark.”
When: December 4th to December 18th
Where: Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi
REVEL IN SOME HOLIDAY JOY WITH ‘CHRISTMAS AT THE DUBAI OPERA’, DECEMBER 4TH TO DECEMBER 14TH
Celebrate the festive season with the Dubai Opera’s jam-packed programme of holiday fun. From classics like Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Handel’s Messiah to contemporary performances by the National Youth Orchestra and GEMS Choir, there’s a host of activities for the whole family.
The Dubai Opera will also introduce a new Christmas Market with holiday treats, festive stands, and activities for little ones.
When: December 4th to December 14th
SOLE DXB RETURNS FOR ITS EIGHTH YEAR, DECEMBER 5TH TO DECEMBER 7TH
The region’s premiere street culture festival will make its highly-anticipated return this December. The 2019 edition will operate under the theme of ‘Jamaican Sound System Culture’. Co-founder and creative director Hussain Moloobhoy elaborated on the theme saying, “The Jamaican Sound System is the most influential force in contemporary popular music today, it’s a diaspora that has influenced what we listen to and how we create. “
Visitors can expect pop-ups, activations, one-of-a-kind shopping experiences and installations from globally recognised brands including Nike, Puma, Adidas, Reebok, Burberry, and Cadillac, to name a few.
The musical lineup will also include performances from legendary American hiphop group Wu-Tang Clan, rap duo Black Star, East London grime rapper and DJ Wiley, Nigerian afro-fusion singer Burna Boy, up-and-coming reggae star Koffee, New York rap queen Rico Nasty, and many more.
When: December 5th to December 7th
WAREHOUSE421’S ‘HOW TO MANEUVER’ EXHIBITION OPENS, DECEMBER 10TH TO FEBRUARY 16TH
Abu Dhabi arts and culture hub, Warehouse421, introduces a new exhibition this December. Curated by Maha Maamoun and Ala Younis, How to Maneuver: Shape-Shifting Texts and Other Publishing Tactics reflects on the act of publishing itself.
The exhibition intends on delving into “how […] artists subsist in producing their work and sharing it with a public” and “how […] they situate themselves in the shifting terrain between the private and the public.”
When: December 10th to February 16th
CINEMA AKIL & WAREHOUSE421’S ARABS AND THE CITY SERIES RETURNS WITH A POIGNANT DOUBLE-FEATURE, DECEMBER 11TH
Warehouse421, in collaboration with Cinema Akil, debuts a unique lineup of films revolving around the “Arab experience with the city.”
Following a run at TIFF and the Cannes Film Festival, French-Algerian short film A Wedding Day will make its debut at Warehouse421 this December. The film follows “an ageing gangster in exile in Algeria [drifting] melancholically between fascinating women, criminal affairs and the boredom of his existence.”
The programme will be rounded out with Moroccan short film, Sofia. The film garnered considerable acclaim at the 2018 Cannes Film festival, winning ‘Best Screenplay’. The drama tells the story of a 20-year-old girl forced to marry the father of her child, whom she barely knows in order to avoid imprisonment.
When: December 11th
EXPERIENCE TRADITIONAL HERITAGE WITH THE FIRST EDITION OF THE AL HOSN FESTIVAL, DECEMBER 12TH TO DECEMBER 19TH
Premiering this December is the Al Hosn festival, “a new cultural experience that reflects and reimagines Abu Dhabi’s heritage”. The inaugural edition is set to merge historic traditions with contemporary culture, offering a space to reflect upon “newly-emerging artistic perspectives”.
With an aim of presenting a new perspective of culture in Abu Dhabi, the festival will feature a wide variety of multi-dimensional experiences rooted in the arts, design, cuisine, and many more. The experiences welcome audiences of all ages, encouraging them to learn about and celebrate the heritage of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
When: December 12th to December 14th
Where: Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi
JAMEEL ARTS CENTRE INTRODUCES ITS INAUGURAL JADDAF ALOUD! FESTIVAL, DECEMBER 13TH
This December will see contemporary art institution, Jameel Arts Centre launching “Dubai’s first museum-led cultural festival”. The event will feature pop-ups and programming by local cultural initiatives such as Art Dubai, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Dubai Design Week, and community favourites Alserkal Avenue, jamjar and Gulf Photo Plus presenting artist-led workshops, activities, markets, live music, photo-walks, murals, films and more.
Activities will take place throughout the Jameel Arts Centre and the adjacent Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park. The Jameel Arts Centre corniche will also host a curated artists’ market, with UAE-produced artworks, fashion, design and crafts for sale – alongside food stalls and pop-up cafes.
The festival is free, but signing up in advance is recommended.
When: December 13th
EXPLORE ABU DHABI WITH GPP’S ‘PHOTO WALK: DOCUMENTING FACADES’, DECEMBER 14TH
The last month of 2019 sees local industry giants, Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) bringing back more of its popular Photo Walks. Led by Emirati artist, photographer and graphic designer, Hussain AlMoosawi, Documenting Facades will offer “[insights] into the technical expertise Hussain employs throughout his images, focusing tightly on the building facades and eliminating external data such as geographic and situational context.”
The tours are perfect for anyone interested in gaining insight into the creative, conceptual and technical process of the photographer, practising their photography skills on-the-go, and exploring Abu Dhabi at sunset.
When: 3:30pm to 7:00pm, December 14th
INDULGE YOUR INNER CINEPHILE WITH THE SHARJAH FILM PLATFORM, DECEMBER 14TH TO DECEMBER 21ST
The Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual film festival, Sharjah Film Platform, returns for its second edition this December. The showcase will feature over 50 local, regional and international films; a public programme of talks and workshops; a newly-launched pitching forum; and a selection of juried awards.
The annual film festival aims to support local film production and provide “a critical platform for both established and aspiring filmmakers.” The films will be screened at Mirage City Cinema, the foundation’s outdoor cinema space, and Al Hamra Cinema (pictured above), one of Sharjah’s oldest movie theatres.
When: December 14th to December 21st
REFLECT ON A HYPERCONNECTED PRESENT WITH THE JAMEEL ARTS CENTRE’S ‘FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME’, DECEMBER 17TH TO APRIL 20TH
For the First Time in a Long Time is the Jameel Arts Centre’s latest exhibit featuring works produced by artist Sarah Abu Abdallah in the past six years. The multimedia exhibition makes use of video, painting, text, and installation with a reflection of ‘our media saturated present, and the tension between our virtual personas and real lived experiences.” Abdallah cites influence from “the vast and constant online flows of data and images as well as pop culture in the Gulf.”
The exhibit is a co-production with the Kunstverein in Hamburg and will be accompanied by an artist monograph Sarah Abu Abdallah: For the First Time in a Long Time, published by Kaph Books, Art Jameel and the Kunstverein in Hamburg.
When: December 17th to April 20th
‘SHARJAPAN2′ RETURNS TO THE SHARJAH ART FOUNDATION, DECEMBER 20TH TO FEBRUARY 15TH
The Sharjah Art Foundation’s latest exhibit, SHARJAPAN 2, will employ performance and sound-based installations to imagine “new ecologies of nature and materiality.” The second iteration of a four-year collaboration with Yuko Hasegawa, Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and curator of Sharjah Biennial 11, “aims to reflect upon the links between individual agency and collective human-like relationality.”
Visitors are in for a unique experience with performances set to feature traditional Japanese drumming and an Android Opera, “conducted by a humanoid AI dubbed ‘Alter2’” respectively.
When: December 20th to February 15th
Compiled by Mila Zafirovic exclusively for The Huntr