Fatma Lootah is possibly the UAE’s only cultural ambassador – though she shuns the title. Born and bred in Dubai, the Emirati studied at the Art Academy of Baghdad before moving to Washington DC to study art in her 20s. She never returned to live in the UAE, moving to Verona in Northern Italy in 1984, where she married, had three daughters and set up her art studio. Having exhibited in Italy, France, Austria, Morocco and elsewhere, in 2009 she held her first solo exhibition in Dubai, ‘Desert and The People of the Reddish Dune’.
Today, the bond with her birthplace is strong. She regularly returns to Dubai where she works from a traditional house in the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood. The house was given to her in 2010, after HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited one of her exhibitions and decided that she should have somewhere to work on home soil. Her art varies in style but not in feeling. She began with performance art in the 1980s and also practices abstract painting. While abstract continues to feature heavily in her oeuvre, she has recently developed a figurative style where she mixes digital with acrylic. Her subjects are often people from the UAE, real or imagined. Lootah was an Abu Dhabi Festival 2015 commissioned artist.