Mawaheb back with renewed vigour, new studio in GC Avenue — Al Quoz - GulfToday

Mawaheb back with renewed vigour, new studio in GC Avenue — Al Quoz

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Artwork at Mawaheb spaces.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Mawaheb — Arabic for ‘talent’ — the Dubai-based, nonprofit art studio for people of determination of 18 years and above, has reopened, welcoming students to its new location in GC Avenue — Al Quoz.

The new studio and community cafe serves as a meeting point where everyone from the community can meet and learn from each other. Spread across 3,000 square feet, the community cafe lies adjacent to a next-door warehouse, which will serve as the studio where students will learn art and life skills.

Wemmy de Maaker, Founder and Director of Mawaheb, said: “After 10 rewarding years at our first location at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, it gives us immense pleasure to announce our new location in Al Quoz.


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“We are grateful for the guidance of Dubai’s wise leadership and their support of People of Determination and their families that have allowed us to continue with our mission by bringing People of Determination and society together and demonstrating that everyone is unique in his/her own way.

“Over the years, our students have grown and explored opportunities such as taking part in Expo 2020 with motivational talks, exhibitions at the DXB airport and galleries around the UAE, as well as participating with many national organisations to explore their potential.

“We are privileged to have played such an important role on their journeys and hope that we always represent a space to inspire People of Determination with renewed energy, a refreshed perspective and a new space”.

quoz 2  Artists at work at Mawaheb.

In line with the recent government announcement that focuses on redeveloping Al Quoz into a new creative zone, Mawaheb’s new location is aimed to be a hub for culture, innovation, and talent.

The community cafe will be where everyone from the community can catch up and participate in workshops or afterschool activities. At the same time, in the warehouse next door, the students will be able to develop their life skills through art and training sessions under the supervision of professional trainers.

Mawaheb, founded in 2010, brings the talents, thoughts and aspirations of young adults with special needs, to life. Its artists are known in the United Arab Emirates as ‘The Determined Ones’.

The concept behind Mawaheb is to bridge the gap between society and the determined ones who can often lack direction once they finish school.

Over the years, Mawaheb has also made a name for itself as an essential part of Dubai’s art scene. At Mawaheb, all artwork is created by students who choose to express them through their artistic talent.

Wemmy de Maaker is from the Netherlands. In 2002, with two children aged five and six at the time, she and her husband moved to Dubai due to job relocations. She has spent her entire professional career working with people of determination.

“My strongly held belief is that everyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality, and ability has the absolute right to be treated with dignity and respect,” she says.

Mawaheb has hosted several exhibitions in Dubai and has partnered with local companies to bring collections to a variety of commercial spaces such as Dubai Airport (DXB), Mall of the Emirates, and the Dutch airline company KLM’s regional office, among others.

It nurtures young artists and serves as an incubator for them; some of its alumni are enjoying their own workspace in galleries, besides winning independent income.

Some students are solo artists and earn their money professionally through art. Some of them are working in a hotel and there are others who have studied yoga at Mawaheb and now use it to deal with pain or stress. Yet others have appeared on world stages, such as being motivational speakers at global events such as 2020 Expo Dubai.

For Wemmy de Maaker, people of determination are a part of humanity that adds to the diversity of the human race. Mawaheb was the first cafe in the Emirates to employ people of determination; de Maaker was inspired by similar places in the Netherlands.

She recalls Het Volkshuis, a cafe in Zutphen, which was founded in 1898 to combat alcohol abuse and still stands there today as a place where visitors can be served by people of determination. “It always brings a smile to my face”, she says, “especially as the world shifts to become a more accommodating place for all people with all capabilities.”

The government of the UAE strongly supports education and learning services for people of determination. In 2006, the UAE signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol..

Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, is the first law in the UAE to protect the rights of people of determination. Article 12 of the law provides: the country guarantees people with special needs equal opportunities in education within all educational, vocational training, adult education and continuing education institutions in regular classes or special classes with the availability of curriculum in sign language or Braille and or any other methods as appropriate.

The UAE Ministry of Education’s (MoE) strategy is to adapt public schools to facilitate education for people of determination. Accordingly, people of determination are entitled to enrol in any school, without exception.

The students are catered for by Department of Special Education, which was established in 2008 by MoE. The Department promotes the rights of people of determination and ensures that they have access to the same educational opportunities as students in the regular education system.

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