LONDON - London is hosting the first European exhibition to celebrate the date palm leaf's pivotal role in the United Arab Emirates' traditional architecture with the ground-breaking event being co-sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
The exhibition, 'Arish: Palm Leaf Architecture in the United Arab Emirates runs at the Royal Geographic Society in London until May 5 and celebrates the palm's influence on Arabian architecture, following the publication of a book devoted to the subject by architect and author Sandra Piesik.
Piesek's book 'Arish: Palm Leaf Architecture' explores the modern use of palm leaves and conveys the 7,000-year history of palm leaf buildings through historical photographs and other sources.
"Inspiration for the exhibition came from my desire to find out more about Emirati culture. There's amazing knowledge about the Middle East's ancient civilisation which I felt was important to capture," says Sandra Piesik, Director and Architect at London's 3 Ideas Limited.
Under the patronage of His Excellency Abdul Rahman Ghanem Al Mutaiwee, the UAE Ambassador to the United Kingdom, with guest participation from Dr Anne Coles and Alexander Maitland, the official biographer of the latte British explorer Wilfred Thesiger, who crossed the UAE's Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali) desert in the 1940s, 'Arish: Palm-Leaf Architecture' presents a contemporary view on the future of the Arabian Gulf's most renewable and locally-available building resource.
"The palm leaf plays a vital part in the history of Abu Dhabi and, indeed the UAE as a whole. Given the authority's remit to promote and leverage the culture of our emirate, it is apt that it has got fully behind this unique event," said Nabeel Al Zarouni, UK Country Manager for Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
"We host an annual festival in Abu Dhabi, the Liwa Date Festival, which celebrates the unique contribution palm trees and dates have made to our history, and it's a marvellous moment to see its part in our heritage presented at this exhibition. We hope it will inspire many more travellers to visit our emirate," Al Zarouni adds.
The exhibition also includes early 20th century photographs of buildings and sites on the Arabian Peninsula taken from The Royal Geographical Society's (including The Institute of British Geographers) photographic collection.
"The exhibition is a great use of The Royal Geographical Society's public space and demonstrates incredible imagination and creativity," says David Riviere, Head of Finance and Services at the Royal Geographical Society.
Entry to 'Arish: Palm Leaf Architecture in the United Arab Emirates' is free. Other event sponsors include Etihad Airways, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and The British Foundation for the Study of Arabia.