Amna (Maddah) Al Dabbagh

Wind tower - Barjeel


Wind is defined as moving air; a usual natural weather occurrence, but its meanings according to Arabs transcend that definition. It has been deeply tied to their lives and thoughts. Through the years, Arabs tracked its movement and relied on it in bringing rain and growing crops. Merchants have depended on it for their sea travels because of its importance in sailing. It was associated with livelihood and hope because of its role in agriculture and bringing business to merchants. Additionally, when all communication tools failed, Arabs used to speak to the wind and address it as a messenger that would deliver their greetings and love for their beloved who is far away, or their homeland, and this is evident through Arabic poetry.

Furthermore, wind towers in Emirati traditional old houses were constructed to capture as much wind as possible and divert it inside the houses as natural ventilation. Being passionate about meteorology, I researched this subject and came across a document about names of wind in the UAE, which are 20. I then found 160 names and types of wind in the Arabic language. It is astonishing how rich a language can be, and this shows how deep and special wind is to Arabs.

This research yielded to an outdoor installation / sculpture that was proposed to and executed during Sikka Art Fair 2014. The piece was situated in the courtyard of one of the houses in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, featuring all names of wind in Arabic printed on light chiffon fabric that dances with the wind.The form was inspired from the wind tower, and the artwork itself worked as a different kind of wind tower, one where the names of wind react live with natural wind. The structure is held together by three wooden columns, which are supported by sand bags at the bottom. On the sand bags, metaphors of wind according to Arabs are written: longing, travel, hope, livelihood, relief and rain. These act as a foundation for the structure, as well as a metaphoric foundation of what wind means in the culture.

People from different backgrounds have visited Sikka Art Fair, where I previously exhibited this installation, and even those whom did did not speak nor understood Arabic, were breath taken by how a typical weather phenomenon can have this much meaning to a culture.

I am very thrilled to exhibit this artwork in a different environment and culture. Wind is one of the oldest networks in the Arab world, and surely, the rest of the world. It was personified as a messenger and it carried people’s hopes and dreams. With “Changing Horizons” exhibition, wind will once again act as a network that would connect cultures, and this is the aim of my installation.


Holz, Stoff, Seil und Sandsäcke
4,5m x 4m x 5m

Exhibition Locations 2016