Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival

The annual Islamic Arts Festival began in 1998 under the supervision and organisation of the Directorate of Art in the Department of Culture and Information, with the intention of exhibiting various kinds of traditional and contemporary Islamic arts. 
Over its consecutive editions, the Festival was able to display different vibrant styles of Islamic Art through a selection of art projects illustrating the authenticity of Islamic Art and its ability to keep up with current artistic changes.
The Festival is one of the most renowned Islamic Art events in the region, and its events include local and international exhibitions, intellectual programmes, and interactive activities.
Islamic Arts Festival, 19th edition, 2016
Theme Concept | BUNYAN 
The incredible story of creation follows the human being throughout his journey, where he becomes the hero, the protagonist, and the conqueror, and the Universe is the mainland and realm of the quest. Human beings went through ages of religions and sovereignties; each left a mark to be eternal, like the Pyramids of the East and the Pyramids of the New World, temples of Ancient Greece and the walls of Ancient China, and the magnificent ships of the Vikings and the dhows of undiscovered islands.
Islam came in as well and graced the lands of the Arabs and their neighbours; the Quran narrates the story of God’s design of the Universe and beyond, particularly revealing the details of human life forming in a womb, piece by piece.  The human beings then learn that they can too build and construct with their capabilities, to fulfil their need for creation and curiosity for knowledge.
It was just a human need in the early stages; Islamic architecture has since then evolved and adapted by artistic concepts, laying the basis on an aesthetic and functional level, and merging itself with other forms of art such as calligraphy, ornamentation, and sculpture.
Definitions of aesthetic have long been associated with the humanitarian provisions. With the ever changing ages of time, the varied necessities became imperative for the architects to develop their tools and visions.
One of the most significant objectives of this Edition is not only the recovery of historical memory, or to celebrate the past achievements, but also to find a prominent future for these arts, one that is shaped in line with the evolution of life and its accelerated pace.
In this Edition, the Festival hopes to emphasise the scientific features of Islamic architecture of different functions and forms, through a series of questions relating to aesthetics, to claim a visual discourse that is both innovative and contemporary.
Firstly, we must agree on the differences between "Bunyan" which is the Arabic word for a standing structure or building a creation and the word architecture. The concept of architecture is meeting certain social functions such as accommodation, worship place and so forth, whereas the art of architecture is an introduction of creativity, composition and motifs to create an unambiguous identity, whether it is religious or social, which is discussed in the Festival through several questions...
Where are we between art and architecture?
How do contemporary artists analyse and look at these architectural structures and discover their elements?
Do we re-draft architecture as new artistic forms with different visions?
How does technology help in the implementation of ideas and formulate them into tangible realities?
We hope the artists take a visual search for the upcoming Festival within this theme and perception.


Download the programme