Art lover Amal Al Maamari is picture-perfect proof that dreams really can come true. Since July 2014, she has honed a hobby and turned it into her craft, as owner of one of the capital’s coolest and most colourful culture hubs, Art Beat.
While the art world can sometimes be accused of taking itself a little too seriously, the thriving venue has fun at its focus. This is a place for the young – and the young at art.
The studio space allows visitors to get a hands-on arts experience, with a host of workshops led by dedicated teachers on subjects as diverse as freestyle acrylic painting, portrait drawing, glass painting sessions and crochet.
Other activities you can get to grips with include painting on porcelain (your chance to create designs on mugs, bowls and plates), polymer clay modelling, where you can try your hand at making everything from bears to dragons and fabric painting on a range of items, including canvas bags, aprons, tea towels and T-shirts.
Arty types can pop in and decide for themselves what they would like to create, using materials provided by Art Beat, with their imagination offering the only limitation.
Al Maamari, who is an engineer by trade, has used her professional skills to shape her business ethos.
“My professional background is in engineering but art has always been my hobby,” She says. “My academic study has helped me to emphasise my passion for art.”
Al Maamari’s artistic philosophy puts fun right at the heart of the learning process.
She adds: “Learning through having fun is an effective way of learning and this concept is being increasingly adopted by many educational systems worldwide.
“A positive and relaxed environment is much more engaging and aids a higher mental focus, thus resulting in a better outcome. The beauty of art is that it is boundless and malleable at the same time. You imagine it, you shape it, you are in total control. So whatever your knowledge, level or age, you are welcome.”
Art Beat prides itself on being a warm and welcoming place, with a family-friendly vibe.
Helping to nurture the talents of the younger generation is vital, so Art Beat has forged close links with local schools.
Al Maamari continues: “We regularly hold workshops for schoolchildren, either at our premises or at the schools and what brings me joy is to see the teachers getting seriously engaged with learning with the children.”
Al Maamari is eager to release creative constraints, allowing visitors to express themselves with a sense of freedom.
She adds: “Any person can just walk into our studio, browse through our collection of items or ideas, choose them and then sit down and let their hands express their creative soul.”
If you are having any trouble getting the ideas flowing, Art Beat even offers a free coffee or tea for adults and younger artists, accompanied by a guardian, will get a complimentary hot chocolate.
The art studio can house up to 35 people at a time, with sessions by appointment and drop-in classes held throughout the week.
As well as hosting a wide range of fun workshops, the venue is always ready to help make a big occasion extra special.
Activities served up throughout the year cover Eid, Halloween, Christmas and New Year and school fairs, plus birthdays and anniversaries, too.
Al Maamari’s aim is to help people of all ages enjoy art and appreciate the power of creation that lies in their very own hands.
She says: “My mission statement for Art Beat is to make people appreciate, enjoy and explore the things their hands and minds can do without any boundaries.”
This is a place that skips to its own beat and ensures that art is for all in Abu Dhabi.
Open Sun-Thu 9am-6pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm. Shop 2, corner of 25th Street and Muroor Road, Al Mushrif (02 444 5135).