Quick Guide to Manarat Al Saadiyat

Get your culture fix at this hub for Abu Dhabi’s creative types.

Quick Guide to Manarat Al Saadiyat

At the heart of the UAE capital’s centre of art – the burgeoning Saadiyat Cultural District – sits Manarat Al Saadiyat, a haven for art-lovers, moviegoers and all-round creative talents, who enjoy generating and exchanging ideas. It’s a place that encourages grassroots initiatives, and supports entrepreneurship in diverse fields, paving the way for a more innovative national arts scene through fairs, exhibitions, workshops and more. Here are just a few of the events and cultural hotspots you can enjoy year long…

1. From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi
The latest exhibition in Gallery A is From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi: Works from the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in dialogue with the Emirates. The offering, which is part of the Abu Dhabi Festival, showcases highlights from the impressive MACBA collection, and is led by its director, Ferran Barenblit, in partnership with co-curator Nasser Abdullah, chairman of the Emirates Fine Arts Society. It asks us the think about the role of art in our society, and its capacity to convey ideas. The works focus on common rules of life in our cities, and the way we relate to our natural environment.
Runs Thursday, February 1-Saturday, March 17.

2. Cinema Space
Cinema Space, a fully voluntary and independent initiative, curates three weekly movie screenings that are free for film fans and enthusiasts. In World Cinema, you’ll have the opportunity to see original and lesser-known stories from international filmmakers; during Restored Classics watch timeless tales that have been revived; and with the Family Programmes, there are a range of fun, family-friendly films on show for an audience of all ages. Entry is free; just make sure you RSVP to reserve your spot before you go.
Visit cinemaspace-abudhabi.splashthat.com.

3. The Art Studio

The Art Studio is a multi-disciplinary space that supports artists of all ages and abilities across a range of media through education programmes, classes and workshops that include drawing, printmaking, painting, and more. Work together or individually, alongside like-minded artisans, in the fully equipped studios or the open-plan collaborative area. There’s also an arts supply store there, meaning the workman no longer has an excuse to blame his or her tools. Workshops start from Dhs100 for adults and Dhs50 for children, while two-hour access to the drop-in studio start from Dhs50 and Dhs30.
Email masartstudio@dctabudhabi.ae or call 02 657 5929.

4. The Photography Studio
This new photography space at Manarat Al Saadiyat was built to aid the development and professional growth of budding photographers in the UAE. It will host specialised workshops and training sessions, led by the pros, and community-driven exhibitions will be added to the year-long calendar of activities.

5. 10 Years of Emirates Photography Competition

This exhibition, perhaps unsurprisingly, celebrates ten years of the Emirates Photography Competition, which has built up an international reputation and offers strong support to the UAE’s developing camera-loving community. It features a selection of winning works and top entries from the previous competions held during the past decade and is divided into two main sections: Spotlight, which features works by ten of the best Emirati and international photographers; and Through Time, which includes images that have been shortlisted in earlier editions of the competition.
Runs until March 31. Visit www.emiratesphotocompetition.ae.

6. Jam Nights
Every Wednesday, from 7pm to 9pm, it’s Manarat Al Saadiyat’s open-mic night, which takes place in the hub’s garden or atrium. The weekly jam session is an opportunity for both established and amateur bands and performers to show the public what they’ve got. Have you got The X Factor? Well then turn up, tune up and rock out.
Wed 7pm-9pm. To register, email manaratalsaadiyat@dctabudhabi.ae or call 02 657 5937.

7. Larte

From Milan to Manarat Al Saadiyat comes Larte, which is more of a “concept” than a restaurant. Sure, it offers tasty Italian food, but the beautifully decorated space also incorporates arts, fashion and design. It combines counter service at its caffé, where coffees and pastries are served, as well as a licensed trattoria whose menu boasts everything from fresh soups and salads to pasta, pizza and risotto, plus classic Italian desserts.
Open Sun-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Sat 8am-1am, www.larte.ae (02 657 5888).

8. Yoga sessions
Brought to you by Abu Dhabi’s own Bodytree Studio, relaxing yoga sessions at Manarat Al Saadiyat take place either in the garden or theatre areas. Head over at 8.30am on Mondays and Wednesdays for a morning session that focuses on deepening your breath, opening your joints and strengthening your muscles through Vinyasa flow. Meanwhile, on Tuesdays from 6pm, the Yoga Unwind class allows you discover the mind-body connection. It’s currently Dhs70 per class.
Mon and Wed 8.30am-9.30am; Tue 6pm-7pm. To register, email manaratalsaadiyat@dctabudhabi.ae or call 02 657 5937.

9. Hula hooping and break dancing

Also on the weekly schedule are hula-hoop sessions by Flowground, a homegrown group of fun-loving, foot-tapping fitness folk, who simply want you to enjoy being healthy. Sessions take place in the auditorium or at the theatre, and are Dhs80 each or Dhs300 for five. Meanwhile, a breakdance workshop by Slam Fam takes place every Tuesday from 5pm to 7pm. They’ll teach you what’s behind the movements and also aim to encourage the emirate’s hip-hop scene.
Flowground: Mon 7.30pm-8.30pm, Tue 12.30pm-1.30pm and 5pm-6pm. Slam Fam: Tue 5pm-7pm. To register, email manaratalsaadiyat@dctabudhabi.ae or call 02 657 5937.

10. Al Sadeem Astronomy
When there’s an astronomical event on the skyline, chances are you’ll find the Al Sadeem Astronomy group at Manarat Al Saadiyat sharing their knowledge and love of the sun, moon and stars. These aren’t weekly events, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the schedule to catch one of these fascinating workshops.
Visit alsadeemastronomy.ae. Open daily 9am-8pm. Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Saadiyat Island (02 657 5800).

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