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Sabeel Fountains unveiled across Expo 2020 site

Sabeel Fountains unveiled across Expo 2020 site, celebrating UAE’s innovative design, core values and rich heritage

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Sabeel Fountains

The Sabeel Fountains, a series of almost 40 aesthetically eye-catching drinking fountains designed to both refresh and wow visitors to the world’s biggest cultural gathering, can be found across the public spaces of the Expo 2020 site.

From one fountain designed to resemble a beautiful letterbox, complete with an embossed letter by its artist, to another that features a mini ‘natural world’, the innovative Sabeel Fountains are contemporary artistic interpretations of the traditional Emirati drinking fountain – sabeel. They reflect the country’s heritage and its spirit of hospitality, tolerance and generosity.

The initiative is a collaboration between Expo 2020 and Art Jameel that began in September 2019, with the Sabeel 2020 open call. The design contest, which received more than 100 proposals, was overseen by an internationally renowned jury, who selected and awarded two design collaboratives – UAE-based creative studio Architecture + Other Things and design team Faissal El-Malak and Alia Bin Omair.

Their designs, Water in the Green and Nahel respectively, collectively known as Signature Fountains, have been reproduced, with a total of 37 fountains throughout the public spaces of Expo 2020. Water in the Green combines robust materials with plants that highlight Expo 2020’s aim to be the most sustainable World Expo in history, while Nahel features motifs of humankind, nature and technology connecting in harmony, illustrating Expo’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Expo 2020 also invited two contemporary artists, Nasir Nasrallah and Dana Awartani, to create iconic larger drinking fountains, known as Artistic Fountains. Nasrallah’s Letter to Water can be seen as a love letter to water, while Awartani’s The Well resembles a stone well.

Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Experience Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Through these beautiful and innovatively designed drinking fountains, we invite visitors to take a moment to pause as they quench their thirst and consider their own connection to this most precious resource. The Sabeel Fountains also offer an unmissable opportunity for the public to discover UAE and regional design talent.”

The Sabeel Fountains invite millions of visitors to discover the centuries-old tradition of how, through public drinking fountains, Emiratis share their water with people in need. The fountains will leave a lasting impact as part of the next World Expo’s legacy, living on after Expo’s doors close as part of the human-centric future city of District 2020.

Antonia Carver, Director, Art Jameel, said: “It is exciting to see our collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai come to fruition. Alongside our exhibitions and learning programmes at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai (and soon at Hayy Jameel, Jeddah), Art Jameel has a commitment to supporting artists and creative communities through collaborative projects. Water – and water and food futures – are embedded within our curatorial threads, shaped by a number of long-term, multi-year themes that manifest in commissions, among many other initiatives.”

The Sabeel Fountains are operating with enhanced health and safety measures, including the integration of hands-free sensor taps into all of the designs instead of push buttons, and the incorporation of bottle filler taps in lieu of bubblers.

Running until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 is inviting visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world during a six-month celebration of human ingenuity, innovation, progress and culture.

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