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Rabu, 12 Februari 2020

Stretching the Hipster Community in Dubai

Stretching the Hipster Community in Dubai - In the city of Dubai which is famous for its mega projects, futuristic skyscrapers, and luxury malls, Dana Alhammadi sits in the corner of a cafe while learning to make natural beauty products.

The "environmentally conscious" workshop at the KAVE cafe is part of the cultural development that is rife in the city.

If Dubai has a hipster center, it is Alserkal Avenue, an industrial area which in 2008 turned into a center for art galleries, new businesses, and unique retail outlets.

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"It's great to know how to get something natural and stop using lots of chemicals," Alhammadi, who wears a traditional abaya, told AFP.

He was mixing soda bicarbonate with coconut oil to make deodorant from natural ingredients, when the faint music of jazz legend Nina Simone was heard.

"I'm glad they have activities and workshops like this in the United Arab Emirates," Alhammadi said.

Home to more than 9 million expatriates from more than 100 countries, which make up 90 percent of the population, the UAE is proud to be a cultural melting pot.

Like other Gulf countries, it uses cultural, media and sporting events to win global recognition and strengthen its presence in the world.

The country has spent billions of dollars to build museums and hold major events, such as the Abu Dhabi Louvre and Dubai Expo 2020 trade fairs.

The oil-rich country is also diligently organizing various cultural events, ranging from jazz and film festivals to fashion week.

Stretching the Hipster Community in DubaiAlserkal Avenue. (GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

Cultural economy

With the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century, the UAE changed from a small economy that relied on the pearl and fishing industry to a regional power center and a center for trade and tourism.

Many tourists are attracted by the country's main tourist attractions: the mall is full of high-end fashion brands, luxury resorts, man-made islands and indoor ski slopes.

But Dubai's rapid modernization has resulted in what some see as a lack of cultural authenticity.

Alserkal, which organizes about 500 events a year, is generally free, intended to create a cultural atmosphere.

The project director, Vilma Jurkute, said the community supports 70 projects by young men and women from various countries, attracting half a million visitors each year.

"This is essentially a community of thought leaders in literature, film, theater and community development that forms the main pillar of cultural economy for the city of Dubai (and) for the region," said the Lithuanian expatriate.

Located in a light industrial area and embracing warehouse buildings that range from lean to slums, Alserkal represents an alternative to what is famous in Dubai, Jurkute added.

One of Alserkal's most prominent attractions is Cinema Akil, the first and only art cinema in the Gulf, which offers audiences a different film experience, according to theater deputy director Luz Villamil.

Every night an independent film is shown in the cinema, whose red chairs and sofas, classic old Arabic posters and cozy cafes help it stand out from the usual Dubai multiplex blockbuster.

Recent screenings include "Papicha" by Mounia Meddour in Algeria and "Capernaum" by Lebanese director Nadine Labaki.

Next month, Akil will feature "You Will Die At Twenty" by Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala.

Occasionally, screenings are followed by discussions in small theaters.

Before the cinema opened, there was almost no choice for an audience more interested in Hollywood or Bollywood films, Villamil said.

"The most important thing for us is to show films that highlight voices that we may feel ... are not well represented, including Arabic films and films that focus on women."

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