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Tue, May 18, 2021 7:55 PM - 9:00 PM Gulf Standard Time (UTC+4)

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Dr. Reem El Mutwalli in conversation with Diana Lui, Artist, Photographer & Filmmaker on The Woman’s Century: Evolution or Revolution?

About this event

The Zay Initiative aims to promote an understanding of the evolution of regional culture, building up public awareness and appreciation of this unique heritage, reaching out to like-minded individuals and institutions nationally, regionally and globally. In addition to seasonal or touring exhibitions and museum loans, the collection is accessed through the digital archive (Collection), first of its kind on a regional level, fortified by a pop-up glossary in both Arabic and English. The Zay Initiative aims to empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.

The Five Pillars of the Zay Initiative are: • Collect, document and conserve Arab dress and adornment.• Present and contextualise through a digital archive and blog.• Encourage intercultural dialogue to highlight our shared humanity.• Inspire and educate designers to create for a sustainable future.• Empower women regionally and globally by bringing their untold stories to life.

We look forward to welcoming you to this dialogue. An artistic exploration of the Veil and Costume in contemporary Morocco and Tunisia.


Diana Lui is an artist, photographer and filmmaker of Chinese and Punjabi origins from Malaysia. She was sent in the 1980’s at age 14 to further her studies in Los Angeles, California. After 12 years in the United States, Lui moved to Europe, first to Belgium and finally to France in 1998. Based both in Kuala Lumpur and Paris, she has been working between Asia and Europe for the last 30 years. Her transient life between three different continents has developed in her a heightened sense of “rootlessness”. This “loss of self” became later the center from which her art took shape. Consequently, her work for the last 3 decades questions the changing definition of cross-cultural identities, past, present, future identities, hybrid identities as well as non-identities.

Lui’s fine arts education in UCLA (University California Los Angeles) and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California were influenced by teachers Robert Heinecken and Jan Stüssy, prominent artists of the 1960’s Post-Modernist period. Lui specialised in photogravure and platinum/palladium printing under the guidance of Los Angeles master printmaker Anthony Zepeda, Rauschenberg’s former printer. A master with the 8×10 inch view camera, Diana Lui develops projects over several years. Lui is invited regularly to lecture and teach in masterclasses around the world with international festivals such as the Rencontres d’Arles in France and Venezia Photo in Italy.

Lui has exhibited in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world – Guangdong Museum of Art, Shanghai Art Museum, Fototeca de Monterrey in Mexico, Museo de Bellas Artes Caracas in Venezuela, Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi in Belgium, Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, Musée Les Abattoirs and Musée Paul Dupuy in Toulouse, Southern France. Public collections include the Guangdong Museum of Art, Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi, Museo de Bellas Artes Caracas, University of California Los Angeles, etc. Recent private collectors include King Mohammed VI from Morocco and the new Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech.

Lui was the first photographer chosen for the prestigious new art & science residence in Toulouse, Résidence 1+2 in 2016. She was also a finalist for the Fondation HSBC pour la Photographie in 2008. She received a grant in 2015 from the George Town Festival in Penang for her project on Malaysian women which travelled from the festival to the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur for the first KL Biennale in 2018. She is represented by galleries around the world: Galerie 127 in Marrakech & Paris, Galerie Carole Decombe in Paris and Los Angeles, Galerija Fotografija in Ljubljana and SOLÈNE in London.


Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, is a published author, lead curator and public speaker. With over 30 years of experience, she is an expert consultant in Islamic art and architecture, interior design, historic dress and UAE heritage.

She is also the founder of the Zay Initiative. A non-profit UK registered initiative advancing the preservation of cultural heritage, through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. Our goal is to empower and sustain global cross cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds.


Raised in the Middle East, educated in the UK, Emma has a profound understanding and passion for bridging gaps regarding culture and business, whilst navigating geo-political environments.

Emma is a highly motivated, award winning, experienced project leader, communications and business development professional with over 15 years’ experience.

As the Festival Director of Dubai Lynx from 2011 to 2016, she strategically grew the event and left a legacy, building the foundations that sees the festival thrive across multiple markets today. Now an entrepreneur and mother, Emma set up ‘Chameleon’, helping businesses reach their potential whilst ensuring they do better for good.

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