Announcing the curators of the six Abwab pavilions

Hosting a Design Week opens up a world of possibilities for a city: to expose those particular cultural idiosyncrasies that give a place its unique character, to celebrate landmark architectural projects, breathe life into heritage craft, unite creative talents working under the banner of one broad industry and introduce them to a global audience.  

In a relatively new city like Dubai, there are few trodden paths for young designers. Nurturing a homegrown industry means creating opportunities for emerging talent. Design Week initiative Abwab, will literally open the doorsfor some of the best designers and curators of the UAE, Kuwait, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia to showcase their work within six purpose built environments at the Dubai Design District, to enlighten and educate an international audience. 

Under the theme of Game: The Element of Play in Culture, six curators, chosen for their unconventional approach have been given the rare task of best representing and defining their country’s aesthetic: 

The UAE pavilion will be curated by Mobius Design Studio, a Dubai-based collective of designers informed by their shared passion for visual communication in all its forms. Founders Hadeyeh Badri, Hala Al-Ani and Riem Ibrahim, have worked with a breadth of academic and cultural institutions, from the New York University Abu Dhabi to the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Their approach, both strategic and creative spans the design disciplines; from experiments with kinetic typography to Design-House, a curated space of non-commercial design created for Dubai’s Sikka Art Fair. 

Egyptian architect, artist and storyteller Waleed Shaalan was chosen to be the curator of the Kuwait pavilion. He is multidisciplinary in his approach, collaborating with a number of entities such as Atelier Jean Nouvel and Cloud 9 Barcelona. His epic career trajectory spans some of the most reputable design firms: from Perkins and Will in Chicago to SSH Design in Kuwait, winning many awards along the way, most notably at the World Architecture Awards in 2012. In between his architectural practice, Shaalan has broken away to travel the world, art direct a feature film and sketch colonial architecture. Since 1997, he’s been living and working in Kuwait, and continues to strive to make a positive contribution to all the space he works on. 

Salman Jawed, the co-founder of Coalesce, a design studio based in Karachi, was introduced to the region as an exhibitor for Design Days Dubai 2014. He returns to the UAE, this time to curate the Pakistani Pavilion; representing a nation just finding its way in contemporary design. Pioneering in every sense, Jawed has led the way in industrial design in his native country, melding new ideas with local materials to create a hybrid of past and present and is gradually exporting his new brand of amalgamated design to the world. 

Arini is a creative platform promoting learning in the fields of design, architecture and urbanism – selected for the creative insight they will bring to curation of the Jordanian Pavilion. Founded in 2012 by three architects, Mohammad Aljabi, Heba Najada and Liyan Jabi, they endeavor to expand the boundaries of architecture and urbanism through projects and publications that ultimately influence our socio-economic and built-up environments.  

The powerhouse duo behind the curation of Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Design Week are sisters Basma and Noura Bouzo who between them have helped grow the Saudi art and design scene with their magazine Oasis and the launch of the Saudi Design Week. 

Finally, co-founder of architectural firm Fleury Attalah, Chacha Atallah, premiered her work to the region during Downtown Design 2014. Returning as the curator of the Tunisian pavilion, she brings her architectural training at Shigeru Ban and Kengo Kuma in Japan to bear, with a scrupulous eye for detail evident in her collections from ceramic stoneware to furniture built with Tunisian artisans.   

Jordan: Arini, Liyan Jabi, Heba Najada, Mohammad Aljabi

Jordan: Arini: Liyan Jabi, Mohammad Aljabi, Heba Najada

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UAE: Mobius Studio, Hadeyeh Badri, Hala Al-Ani, Riem Ibrahim / Tunisa: Chacha Atallah

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Saudi Arabia: Basma Bouzo / Kuwait: Waleed Shaalan / Pakistan: Salman Jawed

A design report by Downtown Design's Fair Director, Rue Kothari.

Main image - Architecture + Other Things (Faysal Tabbara, Nada Taryam and Khawla Al Hashimi) for UAE pavilion.