Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan and held by NYU Abu Dhabi in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), the winning submission of the sixth edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award has been announced by the annual Selection Committee of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.

Crafted by undergraduate architecture students at Abu Dhabi University Maram Kassab and Mariam Ayoub, the award-winning interactive pavilion inspired by Emirati poetry Qasa’ed will be unveiled on November 21, 2018 at NYU Abu Dhabi. The pavilion will be constructed at Abu Dhabi University and other locations over the course of nine months prior to the opening. The artists will receive $10,000 to facilitate its production as well as an additional $5000 from Christo upon its completion to further their careers.

H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF said, “Each year, the exceptional quality and diversity of responses to the Christo and Jeanne-Claude award exemplify the innovative and pioneering spirit of visual artists in the United Arab Emirates. At ADMAF, we believe that emerging talent becomes the leading voices of tomorrow through programs that combine creative inspiration and professional structure. We are proud to offer the nation’s young artists a prominent platform not only to exhibit their work for public enjoyment but also to receive invaluable guidance, mentorship and support.”

The artists will be supported throughout the process by accompanying professionals including Director of the Award Emily Doherty, NYUAD Gallery Director and Chief Curator Maya Allison and her team of museum professionals, and the faculty of NYUAD’s Visual Arts department, as well as their chosen mentor, Professor Basem Eid Mohamed.

A wooden structure inspired by the captivating imagery offered in Emirati poetry describing the desert, Qasa’ed represents the joy held by those who spent their nights recounting vivid stories from the tops of sand dunes in the desert, while underscoring the lasting significance of creative literature in Emirati culture. 

Speaking about the design Maram Kassab said, “We have designed Qasa’ed with the intention of allowing human interaction and gatherings within it. Merging UAE’s past, present and future in one piece so that individuals are to touch, feel and maybe even write poetry of Qasa’ed."

Mariam Ayoub added, “With Qasa’ed we wanted to introduce more than a physical structure. Its metaphorical significance was considered as important as its physical appearance because not only did we envision a beautiful structure but we also envisioned a brilliant and magnificent experience that was intended to hit home to the UAE residents as it brings the memories and experiences of those of the UAE’s past into one physical design.”

Designed with the intention of encouraging social interaction and fostering engagement with poetry in motion, Qasa’ed resembles the shapes witnessed in the desert through eye-catching curves and lines. The exterior and sectional look of the structure is intended to mimic Arabic calligraphy, utilizing bold shapes and a sense of flowing connectivity, while the interior emulates the appearance of sand dunes through smooth spatial qualities.

Maram Kassab and Mariam Ayoub came upon the design for Qasa’ed through their passion for researching, exploring, and creating new ways to interpret their philosophical backgrounds by developing architecture. They previously participated in the fourth edition of the United Arab Emirates Undergraduate Student Research Competition (UGSRC), where they won first prize for their housing proposal Diver-City.

NYUAD Art Gallery Director and Chief Curator Maya Allison, notes, “This award is a core part of NYUAD’s commitment to supporting the growth and professionalization of young artists in the UAE. Making art for a public venue is a specific skill set, requiring extensive testing and planning, from the budget and timeline to the shipping, install and conservation plans. With every step, the finalists and winners are gaining crucial professional experience in the field. I am pleased to be witnessing past finalists and winners becoming leaders in their fields.”

Open to UAE-based students and graduates within the last six years, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established to encourage the creation of new artwork in the UAE, acting as a launch pad for visual artists across the Emirates and offering the winner an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition.


About the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

The NYUAD Art Gallery is an academic museum-gallery that presents curated exhibitions of art and material culture across historical and contemporary topics, with a special emphasis on subjects of both regional concern and international significance. Through focused exhibitions, events, and publications, the NYUAD Art Gallery serves as a catalyst and locus of intellectual and creative activity, linking the University with the Abu Dhabi public and a worldwide community of artists, curators, and scholars. www.nyuad-artgallery.org.


About Christo and Jeanne-Claude

For half a century, internationally acclaimed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created highly celebrated works of art around the world. Together, they changed the concept of “public art” by creating temporary works that are truly transitory by design. Jeanne-Claude passed away in November 2009, but Christo continues with their work on Over The River, as well as other projects.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted any subsidies, royalties, grants, or sponsorships. They fund all of their temporary public works, and the artists’ income is derived from the sale of original works of art by Christo to museums, galleries, and private collectors.



The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.  It was established in 1996 by Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo. ADMAF’s broad range of initiatives - including the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round education and community programmes and The Nationals’ Gallery - brings together audiences of all ages and nationalities. Through them, it nurtures the creative talent of the UAE and beyond, in partnership with leading national and international institutions. 


Source: Four Communications

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