Shahinda by Sheikh Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi, published in the UAE shortly after unification in 1971, is generally considered the first Emirati novel.

It is a love story, shrouded in folklore, about the title character’s relationship with the sea and the desert.

Emirati artist Zeinab Al Hashemi still finds great inspiration both from the pioneering work and the reliance her forefathers had on the sea.

Predominantly a graphic artist, she is interested in shapes, forms and function, an approach that often causes her to straddle the boundary between art and design.

For a recent project, Al Hashemi designed all of the artwork for one of Dubai’s newest hotels: the dusitD2 Kenz Hotel in Al Barsha Heights.

Taking her cue from the shape of a dhow sail, she designed an installation that hangs from the ceiling of the hotel lobby, several sculptures, and exclusive prints that hang in every room that look like blueprints for a ship.

“It actually began with the polygon sail,” says Al Hashemi.

“I wanted to emphasise the polygon shape and give it some depth with the other pieces. I like to push an idea to its fullest and understand a material to see how much it can be developed.”

The geometric forms in the works are interesting. She uses clean lines of metal and wood, accentuating them with rope and twine.

“I very much enjoyed working with lines and understanding their relationship,” she says. “The ropes look like the metal and vice versa, so they all influence each other.”

What makes this work stand out from the usual nondescript art found in hotels is that it is a result of genuine collaboration between the hotel and artist.

Al Hashemi was involved from the planning stage, so the colours of the decor match the palette of her artwork. This seamless link means the work feels natural and very contemporary.

There are also stylistic touches that blend modern and traditional designs throughout the property and, according to the creative team behind the hotel, there are more pieces of art in the hotel than rooms. It is certainly worth a visit.

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