Cultural Education Programme for Children in UAE

A.R.M. Holding Children's Programme. This cultural education programme is the largest of its kind in the UAE, aimed at inspiring the next generation of creative minds and cultivating a passion for art and culture. The 2023 edition grew 64%, reaching more than 9000 students across the country.

The first-of-its-kind programme is developed by private investment firm A.R.M. Holding, in partnership with Art Dubai. The initiative seeks to empower the new generation with an understanding of the arts, reinforcing Dubai's position as a global capital of culture and innovation. With creative programming conceived by international artists, each edition is designed to inspire the UAE's young minds by offering specially curated workshops at Art Dubai every spring, followed by bespoke classroom experiences.

His Excellency Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, CEO of A.R.M. Holding, said: "In a diverse community of over 200 nationalities, art is a bridge that can connect us on a deeper level, fostering communication, understanding, and empathy. By integrating the arts both in and out of the classroom, we can equip students with the tools they need to think innovatively and solve problems creatively. Our programme has grown tremendously, increasing this year's outreach to 64% compared to 2022. Over the years, we have engaged 1,800 children from 70 schools in the first edition, 5,500 students in 80 schools in the second edition, to over 9,000 students from 90 schools this year. We sincerely hope this programme can be extended further, serving as an integral component of the UAE curriculum."

Each year, the programme themes the workshops complementary to the UAE priorities. In its inaugural edition in 2021, design duo Studio Sain tested innovative ideas on constructing a sustainable community in outer space and had the children create an alternative living habitat on a fictional version of the moon through the 'Noom Project.' This was in line with the UAE's space mission to Mars as the first Emirati embarks on space travel. As the UAE leads the way in sustainable development, Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru conducted 'Art of Recycle' workshops in 2022. Designed to challenge perspectives and demonstrate how everyday objects can be given a new lease of life, the children repurposed everyday materials from their homes and schools creatively.

In 2023, the A.R.M. Holding Children's Programme's third edition selected Swedish visual artist Jacob Dahlgren. Drawing inspiration from his Signs of Abstraction project, he developed a series of workshops designed for children aged from 5 to 17. The aim was to foster teamwork skills while promoting creative and abstract thinking about their environments. The children created collages from everyday materials, pieced together to form colourful tapestries and flags. The programme culminates with an exhibition of the children's artwork at schools, demonstrating the potential of abstract engagement with our surroundings and the power of collaboration towards a common goal.

Mona Mahmood, Art Teacher at Al Sadiq Islamic English School Dubai, said: "The workshop provided our students with a unique platform to explore their creativity and reflect upon the significance of flags as symbols of identity, unity, and diversity. The program has not only enriched their academic pursuits but also fostered a sense of confidence, self-expression, and appreciation for different cultures. We extend our sincerest appreciation to A.R.M. Holding and Art Dubai for spearheading this initiative and providing a transformative experience for our students. The Flag Project has become an integral part of our school's artistic endeavours, and we eagerly look forward to future collaborations and opportunities to further empower our students through art education. We wholeheartedly endorse this programme and its commitment to nurturing young artistic minds."

Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director of Art Dubai, said: "We are humbled by the growth of the A.R.M. Holding Children's Programme, which has been successfully incorporated into Art Dubai's education programme. The positive response has enabled us to continue engaging with the community beyond the fair. It is exciting to see the immense creativity that young minds can unleash through their art."