Ahmed Emad

KHAMSA talks to Louvre Abu Dhabi museum educator, Ahmed Emad.

Ahmed Emad (@ahmedemadals on Instagram) is a Dubai-based museum educator artist. Born in the Emirate in 1993, he holds bachelor degrees in civil engineering and environmental engineering from The University of Sharjah. Ahmed develops concepts inspired by building material, such as steel bars, concrete, and industrial scraps. He looks at the functions of these materials, which can be viewed as constructive or fatal, in relation to aspects of the mind, life and society.

Ahmed Emad’s work focuses on existential themes, mostly human beings, emotions and places. He has held a number of solo & group exhibitions around the UAE. Art has always been a part of Emad’s journey, arising from his academic background. The artist’s curiosity in experimenting the limits and structure of certain materials began from a ‘Material’ course, where he spent time testing with leftover materials.

KHAMSA chats to Ahmed Emad and quizzes him on all things related to his career.

١. We love that you’re a museum educator at the Louvre Abu Dhabi – could you tell us more about your job?

Image courtesy Ahmed Emad

Louvre Abu Dhabi champions cultural accomplishments from prehistory to the contemporary world. As an educator at this prominent place, it is like being a sailor on a large ocean of various forms of art. The passengers on this ship come with an artistic passion and believe wholeheartedly in the power of art. It is my role to inspire and guide my passengers to explore the world’s most iconic pieces. Where better than the Louvre Abu Dhabi to gain a great sense of artistic creativity?

٢. Being immersed in the world of art and education, you must have met incredible minds along the way. Would you say that the human factor is important in your work?

As an educator at Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, the human factor is undoubtedly essential in my work. Art, at its core, is a profound expression of human creativity, emotions, and perspectives. It serves as a bridge, transcending boundaries and fostering connections between individuals, cultures, and epochs.

In my role, I have the privilege of interacting with a diverse array of visitors, each bringing their unique backgrounds, experiences, and interpretations to the artworks on display. This constant exchange of ideas and perspectives enriches not only my understanding of the art but also my appreciation for the human experience itself. Through engaging with visitors, I have encountered incredible minds – artists, scholars, enthusiasts, and lifelong learners – who have challenged me to delve deeper into the complexities of artistic expression. Their insightful questions, thought-provoking observations, and personal narratives have continually expanded my horizons, reminding me that art is a living, breathing entity that evolves with each viewer’s interpretation.

In essence, the human factor is the beating heart of my work at Louvre Abu Dhabi. It is the catalyst that breathes life into the artworks, ignites intellectual discourse, and forges lasting connections between individuals, cultures, and generations. Without the human element, art would merely be a static representation, devoid of the richness and depth that emerges from the interplay between the artist, the work, and the viewer.

٣. Have you always been passionate about museums? If you could suggest three that we must visit, which would they be?

Image courtesy Ahmed Emad

As an educator at Louvre Abu Dhabi, my passion for museums runs deep. These institutions are not merely repositories of art and artifacts; they are gateways to understanding the richness of human civilizations, cultures, and creative expressions throughout history.

From a young age, I was captivated by the ability of museums to transport visitors through time and space, allowing them to immerse themselves in the stories, traditions, and artistic achievements of diverse peoples. Each museum visit was akin to embarking on a journey of discovery, where every exhibit, every artwork, and every artifact held the potential to unveil a new layer of understanding and appreciation for the world around us. If I were to suggest three museums that are truly must-visit destinations, the
following would be at the top of my list:

1) Louvre Abu Dhabi celebrates the universal creativity of humanity through its unique universal narrative, which explores stories of cultural connections. Through its innovative approach, the museum focuses on building understanding across cultures: through episodes of human creativity that transcend culture, geography, and time.

2) The Grand Egyptian Museum is dedicated to a single civilization. The museum contains tens of thousands of rare and unique archaeological finds that have found a new home in a museum built on the plateau of the pyramids of Giza.

3) The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), New York City: The Met is a veritable treasure trove of human civilization, housing an astonishing collection of over two million works spanning five thousand years of art and culture from around the globe.

٤. Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the UAE, a fairly new scene for art globally. How do you see the landscape evolving locally?

As an educator at Louvre Abu Dhabi, I am thrilled to witness the burgeoning art scene in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the broader region. The establishment of this iconic museum represents a significant milestone in the cultural landscape of the Middle East, positioning the UAE as an emerging global art hub. The landscape of art in the UAE and the wider Gulf region is rapidly evolving, fueled by a growing appreciation for artistic expression and a commitment to fostering a vibrant cultural scene. Several factors are contributing to this dynamic transformation:

1) Nurturing local talent: The UAE is actively supporting and nurturing local artists, providing platforms and resources for them to hone their skills and showcase their works. Initiatives such as artist residencies, art fairs, and exhibition spaces are empowering a new generation of Emirati and regional artists to explore their creativity and gain international recognition.

2) Promoting cultural exchange: The UAE’s strategic location and its embrace of multiculturalism have made it a hub for cultural exchange. International art exhibitions, festivals, and events hosted in the country facilitate dialogue and collaborations between artists from diverse backgrounds, fostering a rich cross-pollination of ideas and artistic styles.

3) Investment in art infrastructure: Significant investments are being made in developing state-of-the-art art institutions, galleries, and cultural districts. Projects like Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, with its world-class museums, and Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, a thriving arts district, are creating vibrant ecosystems that support and promote artistic endeavors.

4) Education and outreach: Institutions like Louvre Abu Dhabi are playing a crucial role in art education and outreach, engaging the local community and fostering an appreciation for art from a young age. Through educational programs, workshops, and immersive experiences, we are cultivating a new generation of art enthusiasts and patrons who will shape the future of the art scene in the region.

5) Preservation of cultural heritage: The UAE is also placing a strong emphasis on preserving and celebrating its rich cultural heritage. Initiatives to document and showcase traditional art forms, such as calligraphy, pottery, and weaving, are ensuring that these ancient practices are passed down to future generations while inspiring contemporary interpretations.

As the art landscape in the UAE continues to evolve, I foresee a flourishing ecosystem where local and international artists converge, where traditional and contemporary expressions coexist, and where art appreciation transcends borders. Louvre Abu Dhabi stands as a testament to this vision, serving as a beacon of cultural exchange and a catalyst for the region’s artistic renaissance. With continued investment, education, and a commitment to fostering an inclusive and dynamic art scene, the UAE and the broader Middle Eastern region are poised to emerge as vibrant cultural destinations, where art serves as a bridge between diverse cultures, promotes understanding, and inspires creativity for generations to come.

٥. Lastly, do you have any advice for someone looking to become a museum educator themselves?

As an educator at Louvre Abu Dhabi, I would be delighted to share some insights and advice for those aspiring to pursue a career as a museum educator. This rewarding profession offers the opportunity to ignite curiosity, foster learning, and create lasting connections between art, culture, and society.

1) Cultivate a deep passion for art and education: At the heart of this role lies a genuine love for art in all its forms and a commitment to lifelong learning. Immerse yourself in the world of art, visit museums regularly, and actively seek opportunities to expand your knowledge. Couple this passion with a dedication to the art of teaching and an eagerness to inspire others.

2) Develop a multidisciplinary understanding: Museum education demands a broad understanding of various disciplines, including art history, cultural studies, pedagogy, and interpretive techniques. Pursue formal education or training in these areas, and continuously update your knowledge through workshops, seminars, and independent research.

3) Hone your communication and interpersonal skills: As a museum educator, you will interact with diverse audiences, from school groups to art enthusiasts, from local communities to international visitors. Effective communication, active listening, and the ability to adapt your teaching style to different learning needs are essential. Develop strong public speaking skills, and cultivate empathy and cultural sensitivity.

4) Embrace innovation and technology: Museums are increasingly embracing innovative technologies to enhance visitor experiences and educational programs. Stay abreast of technological advancements, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive installations. Explore how these tools can be leveraged to create engaging and immersive learning experiences.

5) Seek hands-on experience: While formal education is valuable, nothing can replace practical experience in a museum setting. Seek out internships, volunteering opportunities, or entry-level positions that allow you to observe and participate in educational programs, tour development, and visitor engagement activities.

6) Build a professional network: Connect with other museum educators, art historians, and professionals in the field. Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and participate in online communities. These connections can provide valuable insights, mentorship opportunities, and potential career prospects.

7) Embrace lifelong learning: The world of art and education is ever-evolving, and as a museum educator, you must be prepared to adapt and grow continuously. Stay curious, seek out new perspectives, and be open to feedback and professional development opportunities. This mindset will not only enrich your personal growth but also enhance your ability to create meaningful experiences for museum visitors.

8) Finally, remember that being a museum educator is a privilege and a responsibility. You have the power to inspire, educate, and foster a deeper appreciation for art and culture. Approach this role with passion, dedication, and a commitment to creating an inclusive and engaging environment where learning flourishes.

Pranav is a writer and editor who always strives to weave stories and narratives with his words. He has written for multiple publications across a wide variety of beats. A keen opinion enthusiast, Pranav pursues the art of writing balanced pieces that explore every available POV before making his conclusion. In his free time, Pranav rages at his favourite sports teams and practices impressions.