Emirati Material Culture in transition: symbolism & Identity
Students will contextualize their research in this paper, after 2 museum visits and
participating in a class discussion about how material culture in the UAE has changed.
Students are required to research, analyze and discuss the historical and
contemporary material culture of the UAE and articulate their opinion on changes and
Background research includes your project work and you also need to research modern
Emirati designers and their work. See if you can contact any and interview them about
their process and inspiration? Check out the instagram resource list that was posted on
Essay framework.
What do we mean by material culture, what can it tell us about a society?
Introduce the essay topic and explain how you will address it.
In the context of the UAE – what do we mean by ‘traditional’ material culture. What
time period does it generally refer to?
Discuss at least 2 specific examples (with illustrations). What role did these objects play
in society.
Does the UAE have a distinctive contemporary material culture?
What items would you identify as being important? Why?
What is their role in contemporary Emirati society?
Reinterpretation: How are the new generation of Emirati designers integrating their
heritage into their designs. Discuss the work of at least one designer.
(Khaled Shaffar, Aljoud Lootah, Fatima Al Zaabi, Kholoud Sharafi, Noora Al Awar, Azza Al
Qubaisi etc)
Evaluate the class group discussion – (what was discussed – themes, different view
points, globalization, identity. )
Discuss changes and transitions (changes in meaning, role, symbolism, material, and
changes in the objects themselves)
Summarize your discussion and add in your own opinion (in detail)

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