Sila Wins The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019

From L to R: Ibrahim Abdellatif, Falwah Alhouti, Omer Al Raee, and Juan Roldán Martín.

The winning submission will officially be unveiled at NYU Abu Dhabi, and will then tour other locations in November 2019

Press Release

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, NYU Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), has announced American University of Sharjah (AUS) students Falwah Alhouti, Ibrahim Abdellatif, and Omer Al Raee as the winners of the seventh edition of The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2019.

Their winning submission, Sila - an Arabic term that translates to “link” or “connection” – will be unveiled at NYU Abu Dhabi in November, and will then tour other locations. The winners have been awarded $10,000 to complete their installation, and will be working closely with museum professionals from the NYUAD Art Gallery as well as their mentor Assistant Professor, Architecture department at AUS Juan Roldán Martín.

The installation takes its inspiration from the characteristic of “unity” in the UAE’s folkloric dance, Al-Ayyalah, a combination of poetry, drum music, and simple movements. Separated into two rows facing one another just like the dance itself, the installation will be made up of units with varying heights to highlight the diversity of movement. The dynamic quality of the installation is embodied through how these units are interacting with each other and as a group, illustrating their unity. To accentuate the dramatic effect, black and white were selected due to the stillness and motion they create when laid over each other.

Members of this year’s selection committee included Founder of ADMAF H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, Director of Abu Dhabi Art Dyala Nusseibeh, artist Azza Al Qubaisi, and guest juror Claudia Cellini, co-founder of the Third Line gallery.

Once again we have seen exceptional and diverse submissions to the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award. Sila is a perfect example of the innovation of young Emirati artists who continue to be inspired by our culture, being a striking visual representation of Emirati traditions of dance and music. ADMAF is proud to support emerging artists and present their work to the nation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to invest in the youth and the partnership we have with Christo and New York University Abu Dhabi. Together we look forward to nurturing and supporting many more young artists in the future.


Founder of ADMAF H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award enables young artists to explore the potential of developing and exhibiting public art. NYU Abu Dhabi has been a partner in this Award from its inception, and it is a great honor for us to contribute to the broader artistic dialogue in the UAE, and to offer a platform for aspiring artists to share their ideas and their talents with the local community. I offer my enthusiastic congratulations to the winning team on their unique proposal, and look forward to seeing it come to life in a dynamic installation to be unveiled on our campus later this year.


NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano

It was inspiring to hear the shortlisted applicants present their proposals for The Christo and Jean-Claude Award this year. All showed a close connection to the land, nature, and cultural heritage, and had thought through narrative and design with technical flair and imagination. The winning proposal celebrates the Al-Ayyalah dance in material form. The poetry of the performance is perfectly captured in the immersive simplicity of the work. I absolutely loved the concept and found its joyful nature particularly apt for the prize.


Director of Abu Dhabi Art Dyala Nusseibeh

Open to UAE-based students and recent graduates, The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award was established to encourage the creation of new artwork in the UAE, acting as a launch pad for visual artists across the Emirates and offering winners an insight into professional life as an artist from commission to exhibition. For more information about the award, please visit this link.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

About Christo and Jeanne-Claude

For half a century, internationally acclaimed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created highly celebrated works of art around the world. Together, they changed the concept of “public art” by creating temporary works that are truly transitory by design. Jeanne-Claude passed away in November 2009, but Christo continues with their work on Over The River, as well as other projects.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted any subsidies, royalties, grants, or sponsorships. They fund all of their temporary public works, and the artists’ income is derived from the sale of original works of art by Christo to museums, galleries, and private collectors. For more information, visit

About the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation

Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, not-for-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world. Often in partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round youth platforms and community programmes. For more information, please visit