Moza Al Matrooshi
Moza Al Matrooshi is a young design student from Ajman with ambitious plans for her emirate and her industry
Every event in Moza Al Matrooshi’s life seems to be relevant to design. Whether it was the recent death of a neighbour where she designed directions cards for family and friends or research she was doing for a university project that culminated in her designing an outdoor seating area for a nursing home in her native Ajman, she can’t help but exercise her creativity.
‘I see design in everything,’ says the demure 22-year-old. ‘I see spaces, I see colour, I don’t want to restrict myself to one form of design, I want to break free of that and incorporate it into every aspect of life.’
Al Matrooshi is currently completing her studies in Dubai’s Zayed University but she hails from Ajman, the small emirate just north of Sharjah and she says her focus has and always will be on her home.
‘When I graduate I hope to create a design studio here in Ajman with my friends,’ she says. ‘We have already come together as a group and are talking about how to move forward. I definitely think there is a lot of potential here.’
At the moment, outside of her intensive interior design course, Al Matrooshi is undertaking a commission for Sikka Art Fair – the annual event dedicated to Emiratis and UAE residents that runs concurrently to Art Dubai. She is working on a set of hollow benches to illustrate the hospitable nature of her native community.
‘It is an ode to the tradition that people used to put benches outside of their homes and wait for passers-by to join them. It was very normal to welcome strangers into our houses before and we had a beautiful outdoor culture but we have lost that now and I am making reference to that.’
I think there is so much of our culture that we still need to share
Al Matrooshi also took part in the public art project in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence that saw local artists painting public structures. Al Matrooshi painted four plant pots on the promenade with images and icons from Emirati pop culture. ‘It is still true that when people think of the UAE they think of sand dunes and camels so I wanted to show them something different,’ she says. Choosing to illustrate the cartoon character Majed and the popular snacks Chips Oman with Falcon hot sauce, Al Matrooshi says she is making a visual reference to a side of life in the UAE that many expats and tourists are not aware of. ‘I did it in a humourous way and it was supposed to make people smile. I think there is so much of our culture that we still need to share.’
Although still so young, Al Matrooshi is aware of a certain responsibility that falls on her shoulders to represent and to remember the elements of UAE culture that distinguish it from the rest. In a globalised world, she muses, it is easy to follow the crowd and forget what makes you different.
‘Sometimes it hurts me that with all the accomplishments we have achieved, there can still be such ignorance about our country and its people. I remember Khalid Shafar [the furniture designer] once told me that we had to keep the story alive and I feel that it is up to us, the younger generation, to move the design world forward but at the same time remember our past. I hope to be able to achieve that.’