Want to escape your daily routine and let your imagination run free? Joining a workshop at one of the UAE’s many fabulous, community-focused arts centers lets you pick up a new skill, meet like-minded people and nurture your artistic talents whilst having lots of fun in the process.
1) Alserkal Avenue (Dubai)
Dubai’s cooler than cool art district isn’t just a trendy place to peruse art galleries, shop from homegrown start-ups, sample tasty artisan culinary delights and hunt out Instagram-able street art. The many entrepreneurs and creatives who call the colorful alleyways their home also run interactive public workshops, including organic-soap making and dried-flower crafting with resin artist Bwader Basheer.
Dh300 (soap making), Dh500 (dried flowers). @alserkalavenue
2) Cultural Foundation (Abu Dhabi)
Known as the ‘Home of Abu Dhabi’s Culture’, the Cultural Foundation at Qasr Al Hosn is one of the city’s most incredible hidden gems. The heritage-inspired setting fuses vibrant Islamic mosaics with modern, state-of-the-art studios, and an array of crafty workshops span every kind of discipline imaginable. Kids can develop their artistic skills from an early age through painting, drawing, coloring, mosaic making and decoupage sessions, while adults are invited to immerse themselves in four week-programs dedicated to ceramics, Arabic calligraphy, jewelry design, watercolors, sculptures, sewing, fashion design, portrait painting and more enlightening disciplines. There are so many classes to try, you could do a different one each month for the rest of the year and still never get bored.
Dh200 (four kids’ sessions), Dh525 (four adult sessions). @abudhabicf
3) Jameel Arts Centre (Dubai)
This independent institution prides itself on being at the heart of Dubai’s thriving community of entrepreneurs and creative talents. Aside from thought-provoking contemporary exhibitions, it also organizes talks from renowned curators. Perhaps most engaging of all are the free virtual classes that demonstrate how to make sensational works of art using materials that are easily available around the home. Easy-to-follow and suitable for adults and kids, the videos cover crochet, kite making, painting with coffee and more. @jameelartscentre
4) Louvre Abu Dhabi
It might be home to some of the world’s most treasured works of art, but the UAE capital’s iconic museum is just as invested in nurturing the local artistic community as it is in honoring the great figures of history. Kids can have a go at creating their own versions of the precious artefacts with the #MakeandPlay weekend sessions, providing the chance to cut, stick and craft costumes, masks, helmets and more. Adults aren’t left out either. Therapeutic Drawing at the Museum workshops take a deep dive into the skills and techniques behind the art of putting pencil to paper, covering light and shade, the human form and even how to sketch Jean Nouvel’s stunning, palm-leaf inspired dome. Finally, online masterclasses with leading Emirati artists are an incredible free resource that can be watched and revisited whenever an urge to create hits you.
Dh50 (#MakeandPlay), Dh81.50 (Drawing at the Museum). @louvreabudhabi
5) Manarat Al Saadiyat (Abu Dhabi)
Most of us are guilty of taking way too many photos of our food, but real culinary photography is a delicate fine art. Held in Manarat Al Saadiyat’s slick state-of-the-art studio, they are holding a Flavoursome Depictions food photography masterclass (June 25 to 26, 2022) specifically designed for food bloggers, restaurant owners and anyone who is serious about exploring it as a career. Meanwhile, a four-week basic photography course (August 19, 2022), hosted in collaboration with the Cultural Foundation and led by award-winning photographer Nasser Haji,
is guaranteed to turn you into a camera master in just eight enlightening two-hour sessions.
Dh650 (food photography), Dh625 (four-week course). @manaratalsaadiyat
6) Warehouse421 (Abu Dhabi)
Built in revamped old warehouses down by Abu Dhabi Fish Market, it doesn’t get more hipster than this homegrown cultural hub. But it’s far from pretentious or exclusive. Instead, it hosts classes that allow even the most unartistic of individuals to feel the buzz and satisfaction of making something beautiful with their bare hands. Dubai-based gifting specialist Innara leads classes in making art out of recycled paper, and all-natural candles in holders made from upcycled building rubble and sand from across the seven emirates. The varied program includes kite-making, pottery, poetry, star gazing and other inspiring interactive events.
Dhs60 (candles and paper recycling), Dh120 (kites). @warehouse421
7) Al Qattara Arts Centre (Al Ain)
The Al Qattara Arts Centre in Al Ain has archaeological and heritage exhibits, an art gallery and studios for art classes. The Dry Studio is dedicated to learning music and handicrafts, while the Wet Studio offers drawing and painting lessons; there are also pottery and calligraphy spaces. A recent event for families offered a free, two-hour almond crescent cookie-making class led by Emirati chef Abeer Al Lou. Book on [email protected]
Al Qattara Arts Centre, Al Qattara, Al Ain, 5pm to 7pm on March 29, free, Tel: (0)3 711 8225. @alqattaraarts
8) Sharjah Art Institute
Sharjah Art Foundation offers a range of courses for children, teens and adults in a variety of disciplines including ceramics, printing, sculpting, drawing, painting at the Sharjah Art Institute. The courses start from Dh500 and run seasonally, for eight weeks, with instruction in English or Arabic, depending on need. For more information, go to the Sharjah Art Foundation website.