The Arts Center Announces Inaugural Cohort for Numoo: Artist Development Initiative for UAE Based Artists

‘Numoo’ will help the advancement of performing artists and the UAE arts ecosystem, coinciding with the nation’s 50th anniversary

Press Release

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has announced 14 UAE based artists for the launch of the artists development initiative, Numoo, a year-long program that will foster the growth of performing artists in the UAE, and contribute to the development of the nation’s arts ecosystem.

Running from fall 2021 to summer 2022, the year-long pilot program, which is supported by a grant from the US Mission to the UAE, coincides with the UAE’s 50th anniversary and the future orientation of EXPO 2020, as well as The Art Center’s seventh season theme, Now and Into the Future.  This curriculum will further artists’ professional skills as well as advance the goals of the international Year of Creative Industry and the Sustainable Development Goals, which has the support of the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth.

This group of UAE-based artists come from diverse backgrounds and artistic experiences. From poets to musicians, writers and theater makers, this international group will be exposed to professionals in the field and will be trained on different skills in order to foster a comprehensive understanding of the arts field in the UAE.

The 21/22 pilot cohort of artists, all based in the UAE, are:

  1. Aya Afaneh, Palestine/US
  2. Carlos Alejandro Páez González, Venezuela
  3. Dorian Paul Rogers, US
  4. Ethan David Lee, UK
  5. Jaysus Zain, Sudan
  6. Jerome Deligero, Philippines
  7. Jomel Reyes, Philippines
  8. Juan Paul Gonzales, Philippines
  9. Khayal, UAE
  10. Lama Mosallem, Egypt
  11. Rashed Qurwash, UAE
  12. Safiya Bin AlSheikh Ali, UAE
  13. Smrithi Nair, India
  14. Subin Thompson, India

Selected through a mix of nominations and an open call application followed by a collaborative evaluation process,  the cohort will receive guidance from The Arts Center staff, invited international arts professionals, and one another. As part of the program, they will also engage with The Arts Center’s public performances and attend Off the Stage workshops and panels. Participants reflect varying degrees of professional experience, with a shared long-term interest in contributing to the UAE’s artistic scene.

The program includes regular meetings with the cohort and instructors, working sessions, and independent work for each artist based on their own artistic practices. It is tailored toward professional skills and process, rather than being product oriented. Numoo aims to have each artist grow professionally in their field, to build a sustainable artistic community,  to better enable them to bring their work to the public, in the UAE, and further afield.


As NYU Abu Dhabi celebrates its tenth anniversary and The Arts Center embarks on an ambitious seventh season, we are more committed than ever to investing in the UAE’s creative economy through commissioning and professional development. Numoo allows us to play a vital role in the UAE’s artistic and cultural scenes, and will support our expanded efforts to connect The Arts Center’s work to educational efforts at NYUAD, and with other UAE universities, primary, and secondary schools. We hope that the program will continue annually, to create connections and artistic community across each cohort. It’s our hope that the artists selected to inaugurate this program will strengthen their ability to build sustainable careers in the UAE, as well as increasing UAE-based artists’ capacity to bring their work to international stages.

Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center Bill Bragin

Head of Public Affairs and Outreach at U.S. Consulate Dubai Yasmeen Hibrawi said: "We are excited to launch Numoo with NYUAD to develop performing artists' skills, connect them to a wider artists network, and support the creative economy in the UAE.  Numoo will not only refine artists' skills but also teach the practicalities of budgeting and contracts. We recognize the immense talent in the UAE and we hope Numoo will take their talent to the next level."

Curriculum course elements include such topics as: defining and communicating their artistic vision; project management and budgeting; rights, royalties, and intellectual property; contracts and negotiation; working with technical production and touring.

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.