UAE-based artist pays tribute to Zayed’s unifying role

Saheb worked for 70 days to complete the 11ftx5.5ft painting that reflects the founding father’s grand vision of the UAE

Staff Report
19:05 March 4, 2018

Dubai: A UAE-based artist has come up with a piece that pays tribute to Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his deep-rooted influence on today’s UAE.

Artist Akbar Saheb’s acrylic painting measuring 11ft x 5.5ft was completed within a span of just 70 days.

A UAE resident for the past 22 years, Saheb has always been an admirer of Shaikh Zayed, his tireless efforts in carving out a nation and instilling a spirit of unity among the seven emirates, and then creating a road map of progress that serves as a guideline even today.

Saheb worked for approximately seven hours each day, beginning at the end of October and completing the painting in the first week of January, using brush and knife as his main tools.

He gave the painting its last finishing strokes at the dawn of 2018, which marked 100 years since the birth of Shaikh Zayed. Titled, ‘Zayed’s Seven Pearls’, the piece depicts Shaikh Zayed’s legacy and hard work in uniting the seven emirates while taking it to the new heights of growth, prosperity and progress, within a very short span of time.

“For this painting, I went back to the roots, where it all began. The UAE as a nation has come a long way from fishing and pearling people that populated its shores a few decades ago,” said Saheb.

He pointed out the symbolism in the painting lies in the seven emirates being depicted as seven pearls in a shell, while the entire work is dotted with several references from across the country.

“I’ve deliberately used predominant blue since it’s a colour of peace, because the UAE has brought peace and happiness to countless people, bringing together a harmonious mix of nationalities,” he added.

The acrylic colours on canvas depict landmarks of each emirates. While the towering Burj Khalifa, the stately Burj Al Arab and world-class Metro train define Dubai, the classic Grand Mosque, Hyatt Capital Gate and artistic representation of Louvre speak of Abu Dhabi. Other references include the RAK Gateway, Al Qasba’s Eye of The Emirates Wheel in Sharjah, Sailfish statue in Umm Al Quwain, the Golden Falcon of Fujairah, and the historic Ajman museum.

Entirely self-taught, Saheb, is a prolific painter and has been recognised at various forums for his artworks. He has more than 1,000 paintings to his credit and has earlier exhibited a series of paintings of UAE rulers, including Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Last year, Saheb gained the distinction of becoming the only artist whose illustrations featured in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s book ‘Mann Ki Baat.’