In a city where everything, from office buildings to shopping centers, comes in two sizes only (large and extravagant), ARTE provides a window to small businesses, new artists and unique designers in Dubai.
Every first and second Friday of each month, ARTE Exhibition takes place to showcase various handicraft artists, accessories designers, painters and even natural soap makers. The mix of cultures and talents from GCC citizens and expatriates offers diversity in products as well as in themes in Artisans of the Emirates (ARTE).
ARTE provides a platform where locally based artisans can promote their arts and crafts products. Miriam Walsh and Paul Townsend, the creators and organizers of ARTE, describe their vision as follows: “We are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting artisans to join us.”
ARTE exhibitions take place alternately in Times Square Center and Festival City Center, providing the exhibition with two unique spots. The exhibitors were able to build a strong connection with customers in both popular locations. The footfall has increased each month.
Arab News briefly interviewed Ann-Sofie who creates handmade earrings and is just taking her baby steps in the business. “I have started earring designing as a hobby back in Belgium. My husband and I moved to Dubai last year. He encouraged me to take it to a professional level and make it bigger, so I did.”
Ann-Sofie only started in December 2012 but is finding her way through focusing on the different needs of customers who are interested in her pieces. “I have provided a customized design service as well as vintage themed styles. I have European customers, Arab as well as Asian. I import my material and findings from everywhere around the world and I add my touches to redesign them and make them more genuine and personal.” Ann-Sofie’s Jewelry has just launched its online shopping service to ship worldwide.
Another participant in ARTE is Desert Rose handmade soaps, which provides products that are made using natural components like olive oil, coconut oil, goat milk instead of water and non-alcoholic beer.
“I make facial and body products by hand, using essential oils as well as fragranced oils. I also use other skin-nourishing and moisturizing ingredients such as cocoa butter, shea butter, French and Moroccan clay. After the positive response I have received from customers, I developed solid shampoo bars that are free of SLS (a sulfate), paraffin and detergent,” said the creator of Desert Rose.
“At first I gave my handmade soaps to family and friends. One year ago I started this as a business. I love the market and the diversity in customers. I also enjoy meeting other crafters in ARTE that have beautiful things to offer.”
Saudi handcrafter Afaf Nasser designs baby dolls, crochet work and handmade bags. Nasser has been living in Dubai for the past six years and she joined ARTE exhibitors last year. “ARTE is very supportive of small businesses and new artists. It is an interactive platform where we as designers can meet in person with potential customers and give them an insight in our products and work.
I have so far enjoyed being part of ARTE because it gives me the opportunity to cost-effectively market my products in a very enjoyable atmosphere.”