Sotheby’s celebrate Doha auction success in Qatar

Sotheby's Doha auction in progress

Sotheby’s Doha auction in progress

Today is an awesome day in London…apart from the fact that I brought sunshine to the city like I always do when I step out of the plane, I will see my first Sotheby’s auction in progress in London this afternoon – Arts of the Islamic World.

More will come later on this as the auction I will go and see covers Middle Eastern and Turkish Art so it deserves a full new dedicated blog.

Meanwhile the auction in Doha,  (Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Doha auction) achieved the strong total of $15,199,750, solidly between the pre-sale expectations of $11.1/16.1 million, establishing the highest price for an auction of Contemporary Art in the Middle East region.

I saw some of the pieces that are in Doha now at an exclusive VIP preview that was held at the Royal Mirage in Dubai…they were really nice and I met lots of interesting people. It would have been great to see the auction in Doha as it was very successful.

The sale was 89.1% sold by lot. Records were set for nine artists, including a record for a living Arab artist. The top lot of sale was Donald Judd’s Untitled (Bernstein 90-01), which sold – after an extended bidding battle among four people – for $3,525,000.

Rising Down, set an auction record for Ethiopian-born artist Julie Mehretu titled when it achieved the strong price of $3,077,000*, over its high estimate of $3 million, after competition from four bidders.

Four bidders competed for a commanding installation work by Minimalist artist Donald Judd, Untitled (Bernstein 90-01), dating from 1990, which achieved $3,525,000 against a high estimate of $3.5 million. Judd was one of the leading pioneers of new sculptural forms and concepts within America during the latter half of the twentieth century and this work shows his brilliantly imaginative mind at the very pinnacle of its creative powers.

Four bidders competed for a work of monumental scale by Chant Avedissian, Icons of the Nile, which set a record for a living Arab artist when it fetched $1,565,000 (est. $1/1.5 million). Created in 2010, this gouache, stencil and acrylic paint on cardboard, in one hundred and twenty parts, is the largest piece the artist has created to date. It presents a mosaic of Egyptian culture that retraces the country’s past through nostalgic imagery and iconographical motifs.

Prominent among the group of works sold was a supreme series of paintings by the influential Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai, entitled ‘Eshgh’ or ‘Love’ and dated 2012, which fetched $437,000 (est. $300/400,000, pictured left). His distinctive style is shown at its best in the ‘Eshgh’ series, which blends traditional calligraphic techniques with modern graphics.

Suspended Together fetched the remarkable sum of $329,000 (est. $100/150,000), achieving an auction record for the artist. Magnificent in scale and epic in conception, Suspended Together is one of the most important and celebrated works of Manal Al Dowayan’s career to date and the first of her installation works to appear at auction. Utterly elegiac in its beauty, the work has a distinguished exhibition history, having been displayed at major international shows, such as Edge of Arabia in Dubai and The Future of a Promise at the 54th Venice Biennale (both in 2011).

A myriad of snow white porcelain doves hover in the air, the wings and body of each bird stamped with an exact reproduction of the permission document a Saudi woman needs from their male guardian to travel.

Ya’illahi (Dear Lord), one of the most important paintings ever to come to auction by Ayman Baalbaki, achieved a record for the artist when it reached a final sum of $377,000 (est. $100/150,000). Depicting the shrouded face of a lone, heroic figure gazing up to the skies, the powerfully charged work explores the acute tension and ambiguity within the kaffiyeh, an everyday garment.

The highly desirable portrait by Mahmoud Said, Profil, dating from 1950, attracted competition from no fewer than five bidders and achieving $125,000, many multiples of its high estimate of $50,000.

Seeing how successful the Doha sale was, I am excited to see the London auction which fits in perfectly with my trip…..for me, although it was a dream to see a Sotheby’s auction, what is nice is that I get to  see an auction that covers a subject I love – Middle Eastern and Turkish Art  or Arts of the Islamic World.

I just can’t wait to see the pieces that are from the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, especially the art of the Indian Deccan dated 1684.

The most efficient vehicle – Learn about bicycles at Bahrain Science Centre

Bicycle exhibit Shereen Shabnam

During April and May 2013 the Bahrain Science Centre part of the Ministry of Social Development in Bahrain is celebrating the theme ‘Machines & Mechanisms’. One of its displays and activities during these theme months is on the most efficient vehicle ever invented, the bicycle.

The bicycle display demonstrates why the bicycle is so efficient due to its ergonomic design that uses the human body as a source of power, its light weight, streamlining, reduced rolling resistance on the road and reduced friction resistance in the chain and sprockets.

Furthermore, the rider is seated and does not have to support his/her weight, and the reciprocal cycling action allows one leg to recover while the other leg is pushing. Bicycles also have gears that provide mechanical advantage when riding uphill or against the wind, and can free-wheel downhill without any use of energy.

The display also emphasizes that the bicycle is the most environmentally friendly form of transport as it reduces air pollution, does not produce greenhouse gases and therefore reduces our carbon footprint. It also reduces noise levels, consumes fewer resources to make and use, and uses less space than cars and therefore reduces traffic congestion. Bicycles also facilitate healthy exercise and promote a healthy outdoor life style.

The discussion and workshops around the display will focus on the design of the mechanics of the bicycle and should be of interest to people of all age groups.

Don’t miss the display, discussions, debates and workshops on the bicycle in the Bahrain Science Centre during April and May 2013.

The Bahrain Science Centre is located in Building 334, Road 109, Block 801, Riyadh Avenue, Isa Town, Kingdom of Bahrain and can be contacted on 17686466.

Press release issued on behalf Bahrain Science Centre. For further information, please contact Shereen Shabnam on +971 507690087/ 504828177/

Uchiwa fan brings memories

For the third time in 2 years, I am preparing to move home – lock, stock and barrel. It’s not a fun task packing stuff of a huge 4 bedroom villa and its amazing what you find when you delve through myriads of books and knick knacks that no family member wants to part with.

After facing 3 huge piles of paperwork on my living room table, I decided this evening to get rid of some display items (it’s now a joke between Eric and Tash that the pile grows bigger instead of smaller despite me spending hours in the evenings de-cluttering while being distracted with the computer, TV, phone calls etc)

After much rummaging, tearing of pages and throwing candles etc, I came across a Uchiwa fan, which always reminds me of Japanese elegance and tradition.

These fans are cherished by the people of Japan, not just to cool down but for getting shade and in my case, it was used as decoration – that is until my last house move. I received it from a dear University mate who had taken me under her wings when I first visited KL.

The Uchiwa fans from Edo, first made in the 18th century are crafted by taking Japanese ‘washi’ paper cut in ovals and placed on a finely sliced bamboo frame. The woodblock printing technique was then used by the craftsmen to decorate the fans artistically…. I wish I was good in art so I could do something creative like that.

Common subjects used in the artwork often included pretty women, kabuki performers, scenic nature/gardens etc, depending on what was in fashion.

While I am still not happy about having to relocate thousands of books from libraries at every corner of the villa, its fun coming across some nice objects collected over the last twenty years of extensive travel and visiting cultural and heritage exhibitions.

Now all I need to do to find an equally huge villa that has a spare room for my shoes, books and collectibles … does anyone know a really cool real estate agent with lots of patience to put up with diva demands?

Week of Chemistry’ at the Bahrain Science Centre

Detlef 3

Detlef presenting a chemistry show

During the week of 22nd to 25th April 2013, the Bahrain Science Centre, part of Ministry of Social Development, will be featuring an intensive week of chemistry shows, discussions and debates.

World famous science educator, Detlef Basel from the Cape Town Science Centre in South Africa will present nine, one-hour ‘Hooked on Science’ chemistry shows throughout the week.

Detlef has over 40 years experience doing science shows and has performed on television and in front of huge live audiences. He is an expert at creating big (but safe) bangs, whizzes and pops and will enthrall you with his mastery of simple chemical elements, many of which can be found in your kitchen cupboard.

The ‘Hooked on Science’ shows are suitable for all age groups and will be presented during the mornings for school groups and during the afternoons and evenings for families. Visit the Science Centre’s website for more details.

The Bahrain Science Centre is located in Building 334, Road 109, Block 801, Riyadh Avenue, Isa Town, Kingdom of Bahrain and can be contacted on 17686466.

MTE Studios currently manages and operates the Bahrain Science Centre. For further information, please contact Shereen Shabnam on +971 507690087/ 504828177/ For information on the weekly programmes at the Bahrain Science Centre, please contact Amna Aldoseri at

As long as it works….

Being a woman may be complicated but it is the very contradictory nature of the female that makes us interesting…or dare I say alluring. Today I’ve come to terms with being at odds with everything and celebrating my womanhood. In the process, I have also come to the conclusion that:

…it’s ok to have a chocolate binge during PMS – in fact, for the sanity of all around it’s highly recommended

…if i have put a warning sign not to cross my path if you value your life during PMS, heed it or be man or woman enough to face the consequences

…its normal to wake up being annoyed with the man because of a fight you had in a dream – he must have done something to cause that fight in the first place

…hitting the snooze button 3 times in the morning is acceptable behaviour and if it doesn’t work the fourth time, the team have a duty to call at 8am and be the personal alarm clock – every hour diva spends at work after all is valued at top dollar

…its human to scream on top of your voice during a brazilian. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a reptile!

…domestic work does not fit into the job scope of a diva. Somebody has to do something about it soon or be ready to face a chaotic home environment!

…diets are bogus if it does not accommodate a healthy dose of Belgian chocolates. You only live once and deprivation is not a word that exists in a diva dictionary.

…carrying 60 to 75 pairs of shoes in the car boot on an overloaded shoe rack is a life saver. It’s in the diva code in fact to ensure another 120 pairs remain on standby for the shoe rotation every 2 months.

…seeing a billboard of Fazza early morning on SZR can really lift up the spirits and set the tone for a great day. Alternatively, there is always the upbeat tunes of Amr Diab if it does not work out with Fazza

…Dancing is good for the soul – Belly Dancing and oriental beats are the best

… it’s ok to rant when the world does not keep up with Dubai and you have to put up with mediocre service when travelling. It’s normal to breath a sigh of relief when your feet touches the UAE soil 🙂

…its awesome to get an adrenaline kick on the race tracks as distraction because some idiot spoilt your mood/broke your heart/sent u meaningless bbms or texts/didn’t tell you were god’s gift to mankind etc…you get my drift!

…blame the scales if it tips towards the bigger numbers because of the sinful chocolate cake from Paul’s – then do a 60’s number on the twister to sweat it off

…send people who annoy you to Timbuktu in your mind. Always works!

People deal with stuff differently but as long as it works…who cares!

Hyundai exudes Luxury with the Centennial 2014

2014 Hyundai Centennial Shereen Shabnam

Shereen 2014 Hyundai Centennial

While I was in Bahrain last week, little diva was chauffeured in the amazing Hyundai Centennial to dinner on a luxury yacht with her dad and being a kid who has been in the best of cars that have landed in Dubai, she gushed on the phone about how cool the new Hyundai was.

Ever since its launch in 2009, the car has gone on to achieve staggering sales and impressive accolades. In line with the opulence that the new Centennial exudes, it has a significantly enhanced interior, a range of cutting-edge features, and the introduction of two new, high performance GDi engines.

Outside, the Centennial offers refined front and rear ends that reduce the amount of chrome trim applied, for a more refined finish, and customers can now choose between either vertical or horizontal type frontal grilles.

The rear LED lighting clusters have also been revamped and new, stylish 18 or 19 inch rims. Befitting a large luxury sedan, its imposing presence is helped by its striking dimensions – the new model is 5,160mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,495mm high. For 2014, customers can choose from six elegant colours, including a new addition, Cona Black.

The interior is equally modern and stylish, and boasts a significantly redesigned dashboard featuring prominent lines and the highest quality trim, all of which oozes class. All driver controls fall easily to hand, while the introduction of the new Shift by Wire gear lever serves to free up space in the central console.

These changes are all in line with Hyundai’s Modern Premium concept – a move that challenges generic notions of luxury, and insists that it extends into new possibilities with new thinking.  The brand has steadily shown its ability to dominate in the luxury segment and the new model only boosts Hyundai’s position as a contender in the race.

The new Centennial 2014 appeals to the social status conscious, who still require practical spaces and features. The combination of the latest technology, with premium levels of comfort and coupled with a stylish interior and exterior, mean this car was made to stand out from the crowd and get noticed….diva is impressed and cant wait to check it out over a weekend.

Shereen Shabnam 2014 Hyundai Centennial