When Manar and Sharifah Alhinai founded the Khaleeji Art Museum in 2020, it was to fill a need they saw emerging in the Arab art world. As the pandemic canceled art events, closed museum exhibitions, and generally halted opportunities, the Emirati sisters decided to brainstorm creative ways to support artists and offer them platforms to promote their work. Manar Alhinai, a journalist who also co-founded Sekka magazine with her sister, tells me over Zoom, “We thought that because we had built a strong network of readers who are tuned into our publication, we could launch a pilot of a digital museum that would help shed the light on the work of these artists.” The Khaleeji Art Museum has since drawn thousands of visitors to its online exhibitions—and has sparked yet another project, Museum in the Sky.
As a special experience brought to viewers by the Khaleeji Art Museum, Museum in the Sky is a documentary-style introduction to the art of the Arab Gulf States, created in partnership with Emirates airlines. In sharing the project’s origins, she describes it as a natural offshoot of the work they had already been doing with the Museum and Sekka. “We thought about what we’ve done, how we’ve integrated technology and art, and we thought about how we could do more. So we came up with the idea of, you know, doing something in the sky.”
The series, which will premiere this spring, currently features four artists who work in different media, showcasing the breadth of the Arab art scene. The first season will include the internationally recognized artist eL Seed; multidisciplinary artist Nujoom Al-Ghanem; Emirati artist Hussain AlMoosawi, whose work is tied closely with architecture; and Maitha Abdalla, a young artist interested in narrative. It’s a mix of more established and emerging artists, those who are working internationally or more regionally, and who come from a range of backgrounds.