The cultural sector in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates is home to nearly 200 nationalities and ascribes great importance to culture and multiculturalism. To this end, they have a national Minister of Tolerance. The UAE is very open to the world and also carries on its heritage, which is both Arabic and Islamic. For example, the city of Al Ain is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its archaeological sites and its oases. In 1998, UNESCO named the city of Sharjah as the cultural capital of the Arab world. Emirati heritage is not only preserved, but also communicated to the population through festivities, museums, mosques and even ‘Heritage Villages’. These are structures that include traditional homes, schools, markets and public spaces and allow people to completely immerse themselves in a village as it was in the past.
The city of Abu Dhabi is developing Saadiyat Island, which should become the cultural centre of Abu Dhabi and is expected to house eight museums. It currently includes the Louvre Museum, which comprises the children’s museum, cafés, a bar, an art lounge and Fouquet’s restaurant and the Manarat Al Saadiyat museum, which is the site of the annual Abu Dhabi Art exhibition and includes a terrace for outdoor events, a café and a brasserie, three galleries for temporary exhibitions, a photography studio, an art studio and a 250-seat auditorium. The various art forms also have an important role in the UAE: painting, literature, architecture, music, dance, poetry, pottery, weaving and embroidery.
The Wallonia-Brussels Week will be punctuated by several daily artistic performances in front of the Belgian pavilion.
The talent of the following performers will be highlighted:
Laurent Blondiau and the Mâäk Quintet
Laurent Blondiau, a trumpet player and artistic coordinator at MetX, is a Belgian artist with a talent that goes beyond borders. Named European Revelation of 2009 by the French Jazz Academy, he also won the Sabam Jazz Award in 2015.
He created the Mâäk jazz collective more than twenty years ago (1998), a group that he collaborates with to explore brand-new possibilities in terms of sound, rhythm and harmony. Striking a delicate balance between improvisation and score, jazzed up with African rhythms, Mâäk quickly evolves into several strands of musical influences, including compositions that will sometimes be spontaneous and improvised or orchestrated.
Laurent is always keen to try something new, whether it is Mâäk Kojo (influences from Benin), MikMâäk (a big band with 16 musicians), Les Sheikhs Shikhats & B’net Chaabi (a project with Laïla Amezian that mixes chaabi chants and rhythms with jazz arrangements), Bakanaï (a multidisciplinary ensemble that brings together musicians playing a ‘transportable’ instrument and dancers), Les Ventistes du Faso (a training project for people who play wind instruments in West Africa) or the Fête de la Musique in Marollen (during which he helps to organise a battle of the brass bands).
Although he has already played with countless musicians from all over the world, Laurent particularly enjoys developing projects with his Mâäk Quintet, a group that he will perform with at the Belgian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. This quintet, which comprises Jeroen Van Herzeele (saxophone), Michel Massot (tuba/trombone), Samuel Ber (drums) and Grégoire Tirtiaux (saxophone), is always on the lookout for new musical possibilities and has benefited from carte blanche during several renowned jazz festivals.
In 2016, Laurent teamed up with MetX, a Brussels-based music production and creative studio, and became one of its artistic coordinators. Made by and for diverse musical creators, MetX is a kind of musical laboratory where artists can experiment and create original repertoires and ensembles.
For more than twenty years, Laïla Amezian has performed on the stages of various concert halls and festivals in Belgium, Europe and even Morocco, her native country. It is impossible to count the performances of this singer, whose voice, which is imbued with Maghrebian tradition, was inspired by jazz, French music and, on a broader level, world music from a very young age. This gave her this unique character. Her career could not be more eclectic. However, she is naturally curious about bringing together her Maghrebian roots with the musical landscape that surrounds her in Brussels and tirelessly tries to find the right balance, through various musical, theatrical and dance-based projects, that allows her to be very Bruxellois and very Moroccan at the same time.
Like the ghanayats, female singers who have been developing an urban vocal and musical art that is specific to the cities of northern Morocco since the beginning of the century, B’net Chaabi are driven by a desire to carry on this musical tradition, which has been passed down by older generations, in Belgium. Line-up Mehdiya Renbouk, Karima Ben Fquih & Gemila Akhdim - chants & percussion Indeed, they perform these chaabi repertoires with great passion, the rich and colourful poetry of which deals with love and everyday life.
Les Echasseurs de Namur
These will perform in front of the Belgian pavilion at various moments throughout Wallonia-Brussels Week for the general public.
Noir Artist (Liège)
Noir Artist is made up of two brothers. Lucien and Martin Gilson: one creates and the other ensures contacts. Each one does so with elegance, humour and humility. Together, they intend to reveal ‘a society that aims to be more positive, more respectful of people in general and young people in particular’ through art.
Trained at Saint-Luc (Liège), Lucien is attracted by the creative, patchwork nature of what he observes. He primarily explores a dark, tense world through paintings, drawings, monumental frescoes, murals, trompe-l’œil, decorations and urban design. He is constantly in search of new forms and media and is developing a unique graphic style. He works with both spray paint and a paintbrush, tears paper, takes inspiration from ads and superheroes, uses virtual reality to produce first drafts and is not opposed to incorporating sculpture in his works. Over time, he adds touches of gold or colour to them, all the while preserving the shades of black that are his signature.
In the Air – Promotional and technological magic (Liège)
Magicians Clément Kerstenne and Philippe Bougard will spice up this Wallonia-Brussels Week with their presence, to the delight of visitors of all ages. In 2012, these two magicians from Liège created In the Air, a company that quickly earned a reputation in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland thanks to its innovative concepts. By incorporating technology and using the impact of magic to convey precise messages, In the Air has been able to work for global brands, but also the Belgian royal family. Within a few years, In the Air has positioned itself as the top magic company in Belgium.
The pandemic has inspired them to revamp their profession, by offering advertising videos in which they incorporate magical effects to improve the visual impact. Their technical team handles everything, from creating magical effects to the final edit. Magic is used to immediately grab attention in their videos and convey a message in a fun and original way. Furthermore, they also offer private magic classes via video conference. In The Air also proposes shows for small groups for magical team-building events. The art of magic awakens all the senses and creates a real sense of cohesion in a group. A great opportunity to take people by surprise and strengthen the bonds within a team. Clément and Philippe also used this period to create tricks for other magicians and sell them internationally.
Finally, the two partners are also developing, through a second company, LEVITA, that they created in 2018,
automated magic products. In this case, a magician is no longer needed
for audiences to enjoy a magic trick. The Gravity Window, their first patented invention,
makes it possible to levitate products or works of art in display cases.
This technology is a real work of art and an extraordinary marketing tool, which adds real value to the objects being displayed by enhancing them. In just a few months, LEVITA has achieved international success, by creating installations in New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and even Geneva.