A participant at A.R.M. Holding Children’s Programme Noom Project at Brighton College Dubai.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The inaugural edition of Noom Project, a nationwide school programme consisting of classroom-based art workshops supported by Art Dubai partner, art promoter, private investment firm and multi-focused economic enabler A.R.M. Holding, took place in September.
The event saw over 1,800 children from 70 schools across the country participate in the week-long Project, developed by design duo Studio Sain, which invited children to create an alternative living habitat on a fictional version of the moon. A.R.M.
Holding is the first corporate patron of the Dubai Collection and also the first institutional art collection in Dubai, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai. It has been created to document the history of the city and narrate its cultural identity.
The Dubai Collection is an initiative launched by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (DCAA) in partnership with Art Dubai. It supports the arts sector of the Emirate and all creative professionals who call Dubai home.
The workshops that made up the Noom Project offered a temporary opportunity to explore how a new society might be constructed, and encouraged the students to deconstruct boundaries in order to generate imaginary, intuitive and innovative objects.
Alongside the UAE’s space mission to Mars and sending the first Emirati into space, the workshop was conceptualised to test ideas around the central question: “How would you construct a sustainable community in outer space?” “Art and culture often fall short in the very STEM-led curricula in our local schools,” said Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, CEO of A.R.M. Holding.
“This means pupils can miss out on crucial opportunities to hone their creative skills and thinking. The A.R.M. Holding’s Children’s Programme, by introducing bespoke, artist-designed workshops to local schools, provides children with opportunities to grow and develop their creative thinking and imagination by familiarising them with a wide range of art and design practices.
“It’s not only about raising the next generation of artists, but also about providing every pupil with the creative skills and experiences they need to succeed in their future careers. The A.R.M. Holding Children’s Programme reflects our commitment to invest in, and nurture, the next generation.” Noom Project comes under the umbrella of the A.R.M. Holding Children’s Programme, one of several cultural and educational initiatives organised by the investment firm and aligns with the company’s commitment to give back to the community it operates in.
The programme aims to provide school children in the UAE with opportunities to grow and develop their interest and understanding of the arts through interacting with a roster of international artists. It received praise from the participating teachers, students and facilitators. “Our pupils at Brighton College Dubai thoroughly immersed themselves in the Noom Project workshop. They had great fun working imaginatively, creatively and intuitively when making their Tom Sachs inspired bricolage 3D sculptures. “The opportunity to invite creative professionals back into the College art studios again is just wonderful as our young artists gain so much by being exposed to these creative experiences,” said Ashley Ibbitson, Head of Art at Brighton College Dubai. “Many of our tasks and jobs are being handed over to AI and machines today. However, creativity is one of the skills we still struggle to pass on to machines; as such, nurturing creativity in young students can be the difference between them having stable careers or potentially struggling in their future,” commented Shayan Rahman Nezhad, Workshop Facilitator.
Sachs is an American contemporary artist who has built numerous space-related sculptures in his career. His obsession with space - specifically the Apollo programme of the 60s and 70s - culminated with his Space Program in 2007. He built a 1:1 model of the Apollo lunar module, a mission control with 29 closed-circuit video monitors, and outfitted two female astronauts with handmade Tyvek space suits, to give a real life feel to art.
Studio Sain is a contemporary design studio focusing on experimental object design and conceptual educational workshops. Founded in 2018 by Namuun Zimmermann and Martijn Rigters, it explores the broader subject of design from a human-centred approach, working in the fields of object design, research and education.
Following the conclusion of the Noom Project, each of the participating schools is nominating the best-performing student in the workshop, who will be invited to join an exclusive astronomy experience at Al Thuraya Astronomy Center in Dubai, comprising an astronomer-led talk, followed by the opportunity to observe the moon and planets through a telescope, a planetarium show, and a tour of the centre. Art Dubai is the Middle East’s leading art fair for the local, regional and international art world. Since 2007, it has championed art and artists from across the Middle East, MENASA (Middle East, North Africa & South Asia) and the Global South, broadening conversations about art beyond traditional Western-led geographical scopes and narratives. In keeping with Dubai’s reputation as a hub for innovation, incubation and knowledge exchange, the fair provides a sustainable platform for artists and meaningful engagement with the rich cultural heritage and contemporary art practices of the region.
Featuring Contemporary and Modern gallery sections, annual artist-driven commissions, and collector and education programmes, it fosters a culture of discovery and new global perspectives. Art Dubai is sponsored by Julius Baer, with Madinat Jumeirah as the home of the event. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is the fair’s strategic partner.
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