When you think of Mina Zayed, you may think of souks, warehouses and derelict dhows. But where some see urban decay, the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation sees creative renewal. Specifically with its launch of the Warehouse421 arts initiative.
Its opening coincides with Abu Dhabi Art and breathes new life into the tired, historical port having refurbished three historical warehouses – all very Indiana Jones – and converted them into trendy and spacious new art centres.
Warehouse421 intends to be a new cultural destination where the transformed buildings become a platform for artistic expression and the further development of the UAE’s emerging creative community.
Khulood Khaldoon Al Atiyat, the foundation’s manager in the arts, culture and heritage programme, explains that “Our foundation’s mission is to find creative and innovative ways to preserve the modern culture and heritage of the UAE. We were interested specifically in the rich heritage of Mina Zayed. We’ve seen so many examples around the world of taking industrial areas and revitalising them for artistic purposes that we jumped at the chance to procure the three properties. It was an opportunity allowing us to preserve Mina Zayed and this fundamental piece of Abu Dhabi’s history.”
Or, in other words, welcome to a port in an art storm. “And ports, such as Mina Zayed, are often a visitor’s first port of call when visiting a new city,” Al Atiyat adds. “It is a great honour to welcome newcomers with culture and art and have this be the first thing they see when they land in Abu Dhabi. It is our dream that Warehouse421 will be a creativity incubator where artists, both emerging and established, will come to share ideas and their creative vision with the community at large, to enlighten people on the rich and diverse cultural heritage that the UAE has to offer.”
Through ongoing programming, Warehouse421 will support the community’s artistic process from education to training and development, and then from the actual creation of artwork to the final exhibition.
The grand opening of the warehouse will showcase a roster of gallery and artists’ shows, setting the larger stage for creativity throughout the city to coincide with Abu Dhabi Art – the capital’s celebration of all things artistic.
The activities for the launch will be held from Thursday November 19 to Saturday November 21 and will present a curated programme of art, design, performance, dance and music.
Enrol yourself in the Mix & Match Abu Dhabi workshop to visually record your city using stamps in an interactive group art project. Then visit the Art Souk to scribble some people off your Christmas present list, where artworks, at multiple price points, by prominent artists and designers from all over the world are on offer.
Three award-winning and acclaimed musicians also present a weekend of performances celebrating world music: Tarabband, Swedish folk musicians of Arab origins who narrate the journey of personal survival, exile, life and rebirth; the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astake; and Grammy Award-winning group Tinariwen, influenced by North African rhythms.
These performances will take place on a stage set up in the dhow yard in Mina Zayed, creating a backdrop of tradition and culture, while alongside the main acts, Warehouse421 will also present various urban acts taking place in different locations throughout the day.
All gigs are open to the public. All are free. All are the perfect entry point for this bold, new creative space.
Nov 19 6pm-11pm; Nov 20-21 3pm-11pm. Mina Zayed. www.warehouse421.ae, or follow @Warehouse421 on all social media.