An Ode to the Union

By Etihad Museum

Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais dedicates this masterpiece to the union of the seven Emirates. Every brush stroke tells a story of the nation, its lands and its people through a yellow and blue palette of the desert and the sea.

Abdul Qader Al Rais' Artwork by Abdul Qader Al RaisEtihad Museum

The painting, commissioned by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, features a stylized map of the UAE depicted in vivid yellow, blue and brown tones, recalling the nation's sweeping sand dunes, clear blue seas and rugged mountains.

These striking natural features have provided the nation with its sustenance since time immemorial, including its rich desert heritage and the flourishing pearling and fishing industries that formed the foundation for its future prosperity.

With his inimitable style and flair, Al Rais combines powerful colors, symbolic imagery and expressive brushstrokes to translate his love for the nation's landscapes, nature and heritage into striking masterpieces.

Abdul Qader Al Rais' ArtworkEtihad Museum

The left of the canvas is dedicated to the desert, depicting a palm tree trunk that symbolizes sustenance, endurance, and the powerful life-force that allows plants, animals and even humans to survive and thrive in the desert.

Abdul Qader Al Rais' Artwork by Abdul Qader Al RaisEtihad Museum

Another distinctive element of Al Rais' style is calligraphy, which runs throughout the masterpiece in a rich seam that captures the foundation of Emirati civilization and culture – the Arabic language.

Abdul Qader Al Rais' ArtworkEtihad Museum

The names of the Founding Fathers who signed the 1971 'Union Agreement' and brought the nation into being, appear on the left.

Abdul Qader Al Rais' Artwork by Abdul Qader Al RaisEtihad Museum

The right side features the names of the seven Emirates that were unified to make up the UAE as we know it today.

At the very center of the masterpiece is the word 'Unity', highlighting the pivotal role this founding principle has played in the life of the nation from its very inception to the present day.

This artwork serves as a poignant introduction to Etihad Museum, which stands as a monument to Emirati heritage and inspires visitors with the story of the most significant moment in UAE's timeline – the birth of the country.

Etihad Museum Interior – Permanent ExhibitionEtihad Museum

Abdul Qader Al Rais is one of the UAE's most significant artists and has risen to international acclaim for his ability to create captivating representations of the nation's beauty and heritage. His more recent works are landscape watercolors, which reflect his longtime interest in traditional Emirati architecture and nature.

His work is also part various museum collections, including the British Museum, London; Kuwait Museum of Modern Art; Sharjah Art Museum and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman.

An Ode to the UnionEtihad Museum

In this clip, one of the UAE's most celebrated artists Abdul Qader Al Rais tells the story behind his colossal artwork featured in Etihad Museum. Employing his signature abstraction of art through geometric forms and Arabic calligraphy, he commemorates the union of the seven emirates.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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