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NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY DRIVES MS AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY THROUGH ART WITH PARTICIPATION AT ABU DHABI ART FAIR

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NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY DRIVES MS AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY THROUGH ART WITH PARTICIPATION AT ABU DHABI ART FAIR

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has announced its participation in the highly anticipated annual Abu Dhabi Art Fair (ADA). This prestigious event, known for bringing together local and international galleries and exhibitions, will host NMSS’s commissioned installation, showcasing the society’s commitment to raising awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Established under the Ministry of Community Development, NMSS is a UAE-based NGO that leverages education, advocacy, and global cure-seeking efforts to improve the lives of people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The Society’s participation in the fair, which runs from 22-26 November, will see the commissioning of a two-part installation curated by Dirwaza Curatorial Lab to raise awareness of MS, inspire advocacy, and foster meaningful conversations around the impact of the disease.

Titled ‘How Nature is Constant When the Sun Never Rests’, the installation is the work of Maitha Al Omaira, a local, award-winning multi-disciplinary artist known for her work with nature, light, and poetry to create powerful and captivating interpretations of life and time. It will exhibit as part of ‘Into the Horizon’, a collaborative installation by ADA’s community partners. Following the exhibition, it will be moved to Dubai, where it will remain on display throughout COP28 UAE from 30 November – 12 December.

By commissioning this artwork, NMSS aims to convey a more profound understanding of MS to a broader audience, using artistic expression as a means to promote advocacy and creatively communicate the complexity of MS.

Her Excellency Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi, Vice Chair of the National MS Society Board of Trustees and Executive Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Programme at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (ADSCC) said: “Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is not just a diagnosis. It is a journey, a life-changing experience, a story waiting to be told. Those living with MS, embody a resilience and strength that remains largely unspoken. Art empowers individuals to question without fear, addressing concerns of limited knowledge. The society’s participation at Abu Dhabi Art Fair provides a creative means to visually represent the complex nature of Multiple Sclerosis. Through visually representing the complexities of living with MS day-to-day, we hope to drive advocacy and awareness of the disease to generate greater support for a future free of MS that aligns with our society’s goals and vision. Through art, we can come together to foster a reality where everyone, regardless of their challenges, can find a supportive community eager to listen and learn.”

Al Omaira’s design reflects the journey of individuals living with MS, aiming to unpack the intricacies of the human body in an abstract structure that connects body and nature. Using alginate to create building blocks, the resulting composition uniquely captures different stages of fauna and flora – which are paired with casts and plaster – to reflect on the consistency of change found in both MS and nature.

Commenting on her project, Maitha Al Omaira said: “My work seeks to forge meaningful connections between the physical body, and our surroundings, by exploring the transient nature of leaves, particularly on the ground. Through this dialogue between the human body and nature, I leave space for interpretation, aligning with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s vision of using art to convey an idea and raise awareness.”

Al Omaira’s installation will be curated by Munira Al Sayegh who is the founder of Dirwaza Curatorial Lab. Munira is a prominent industry leader who has made impactful contributions to several initiatives throughout the capital – including NYU Abu Dhabi’s FIND Project (2012) and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s The Creative Act.

“Through this commissioned work, we hope to shed light on the relationship between Multiple Sclerosis and the physical body. We want to create a wider understanding of what Multiple Sclerosis is and the different effects it can have,” Al Sayegh said.

She added: “Through the tool of art, this work aims to create a base for a safe space for people to discuss Multiple Sclerosis and create an understanding that all bodies and abilities can coexist; this idea of harmony is central to the work, and to the realities of Multiple Sclerosis.”

The installation will be on public display at Manarat Al Saadiyat from 22-26 November, located in the community partners section of the fair.

As part of NMSS’s participation in the upcoming fair, two captivating workshops will be held. Led by Dirwaza and Maitha Al Omaira, the workshops will take place concurrently with Abu Dhabi Art Fair at Jubail Mangrove Park. On 23 November, guests are invited to “Image to Impression: Exploring Cyanotype”, where Maitha Al Omaria will introduce participants to one of the techniques she often employs in her own artworks, cyanotype. On 28 November, participants will be able to enjoy “Pathway to Understanding: A Walking and Writing Workshop’, where guests will be prompted to consider the connection between the mangroves and the human body nervous system, with special attention to MS. Public events not only offer a unique opportunity to engage with creativity but to also learn about society.

Jubail Mangrove Park, which spans more than 135,000 sqm of area, is the first self-contained educational, nature and leisure destination of its kind in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and was established in 2020.

Access to the fair is free, and tickets can be booked online to avoid registration or queues at the venue. Visit https://www.abudhabiart.ae/en/Art-Fair to register now.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that affects over 2.8 million people around the world. For more information on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, visit www.nationalmssociety.ae.

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