Founded in 2019, The Zay Initiative is a UK registered non-for-profit operation that celebrates the preservation of Arab heritage through the collection, documentation, conservation, and exhibition of traditional dresses, jewellery, ornaments, and modes of bodily adornment.
Founder Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, the lead curator to The Women's Pavilion Expo2020 Dubai, a published author with over 30 years of experience in art and cultural heritage, has invested in a collection of historical dress for the past decades (over 1800 articles of clothing). The core of this growing collection is based on the UAE traditional dress and key examples from other countries like Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Libya and more. The Zay Initiative disseminates specialist knowledge to the widest possible public through an impressive set of exhibitions and artistic collaborations. Showcasing how collectors, researchers and creatives across the visual and literary arts have engaged with clothing as a language for expressing gendered, ethnic, religious, national, and transnational identities. Scholars, students, designers, and artists benefit from The Zay Initiative's Digital Archive & Dictionary: an ambitious resource on dress and adornment, the first on a regional level.
As Cultural Content Advisors to the Mall of the Emirates, the Zay Initiative will be curating several themed exhibitions focused on aspects of UAE cultural heritage every two months, connecting the past to the future and sustaining Arab legacy.
To view the exhibition, click here.