The House of Artisans, managed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and Institute Francaise in the UAE, has launched a new cultural arts exchange programme in partnership with the French Embassy in the UAE and the Institut Francais. This creative arts programme supports aspiring designers and artisans from both the UAE and France whose work is focused on craftsmanship. Launched in November of last year, the initiative aims to facilitate new French Emirati dialogues, support a local network of artisans and create long-term exchanges and opportunities for professionals in the arts and crafts space.

Taking place in both the UAE and France, the programme has sent the designers and artisans on residencies in the partner country, where they have been paired with mentors to help them develop their craft. The programme has allowed the participants to discover new creative processes, conduct in-depth research on a variety of techniques, and study the history of their craft and the ecosystem of the host country. Future editions of the arts exchange programme will see House of Artisans engage creative practitioners from different countries around the world.

Salama Al Shamsi, Acting Culture Sites Management Department Director at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We’re delighted to see this valuable artistic exchange programme come to life, and particularly proud to collaborate with our creative partners in France for this first edition, both further strengthening the long-standing cultural relationship between our two countries and paving the way for future international collaborations. This dialogue and exchange of knowledge and know-how between professionals not only contributes to the artistic growth of the artists who are part of the programme, but it also creates a network that will be immensely valuable to an ecosystem of cooperation that aims to protect and preserve the living heritage that these crafts represent.”

The programme features three Emirati artists and three French artists, who were chosen through a selection committee. The residency exchange saw Emirati artists Alia Al Mazrooei, Mohamed Al Suwaidi, and Sarah Al Nuaimi spend a month in France, while their French counterparts Jeremy Plisson, Joseph Dhedin and Domitille Lusinchi spent their time in the UAE.

Each participant was selected based on the crafts they master, under three main themes: woodworking and marquetry, weaving and textiles, and ceramics. The residency workshops took place across a number of locations within each country, including Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafrah region, Fujairah, Al Sila’a, Dubai and Ras Al Khaima in the UAE, and Paris, Limoges and St. Bussy St. Georges in France.

Hugo Henry-Ceylan, Head of the Cooperation Department of the French Embassy and Director of the Institut Français UAE, said: "We are delighted to launch such a successful programme. France and the UAE have a long heritage of craftsmanship, and this is a real opportunity to connect the two ecosystems and open up new opportunities for professionals, universities, craftsmen, and designers. We are proud to associate great institutions of excellence with this project, such as the National Institute of Arts and Crafts, Mobilier National, Boulle and Duperré universities, Manufacture de Sèvres, CRAFT Limoges and ARCA Ebénisterie, with the support of Institut Français Paris.”

The programme will result in a touring exhibition this March that showcases the work made by the artists during their time in France and the UAE, inspired by the theme of social gathering and art de vivre. It will also showcase highlights of their creative processes and their discoveries and reflections on the crafts of the host country.

Al Shamsi said: “We are looking forward to seeing what the programme brings to the artists, both as a personal growth experience and its impact on their artistic expression.”

To learn more about House of Artisans and the arts residency exchange programme, visit:

To learn more about Institut Français UAE, Cultural Department of the French Embassy in UAE, visit: