Interview // Marjan Faraidooni on Sabeel 2020

Edited by Sarah Hejazin

HKZ had the chance to interview Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Pavilions and Exhibition Officer at Expo 2020 Dubai to talk about Sabeel 2020.

Inspired by the sabeel – a community drinking fountain that provides relief to passers-by and travelers at crossroads, Expo 2020 Dubai, in collaboration with Art Jameel, presents Sabeel 2020: an initiative that invites people from the UAE’s and region’s creative sectors to design drinking water fountains for the Expo 2020 site.

When asked about how the idea of creating the sabeel of the future comes about, Faraidooni explains that Sabeel 2020 builds on the concept of shared humanity and seeks to celebrate water as our common good and attempts to highlight the UAE’s rich culture and the warm hospitality for which the country is known, while incorporating the Expo 2020 subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Given that Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo ever held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Faraidooni believes that “it’s a chance for creatives who are based in the UAE, or have a strong connection to the country, to make their mark”.

The Expo will have 45-plus sabeels located across it. These drinking fountains will not only provide water to millions of visitors, but also showcase lesser-known cultural aspects of the UAE and the region.

“That’s why we’re encouraging designers to unleash their imaginations and reinterpret a very traditional feature of our community in a new light.” Faraidooni

The competition asks for hardwearing, long-lasting and simple yet innovative designs in terms of water gathering, dispensing and making use of ancient and/or new technologies. They must push our understanding of the traditional sabeel in a contemporary and inventive way.

When asked about the envisioning of their placement and their role as part of the greater legacy plan for the Expo, Faraidooni shares the fact that Expo 2020 will welcome a projected 150,000 visitors on an average day, so the winning design shouldn’t only be strong, but it should also excel in terms of its artistic and technical qualities.

“We’re asking anyone submitting a design to consider the availability of source materials locally and to show flexibility in terms of concept, as well as adhering to strict health and safety standards.” Faraidooni

Sabeel 2020 Jury Members

Up to three lucky designers will have their sabeels selected by the appointed jury to be developed and mass-produced for Expo and each winner will receive a prize of AED 100,000. Also, by bringing their ideas to life as a key feature of Expo 2020 and its legacy in the future city of District 2020, Sabeel 2020 will bring a unique exposure for the winning designer(s).

Faraidooni anticipates that “these drinking fountains will provide a memorable focal point and engage meaningfully with a broad audience for many years to come.”

Sabeel 2020 program also includes three commissioned public drinking fountains created by artists who are based in the region. The selected artists will also be announced alongside the competition winners in November of 2019.

More on Sabeel 2020

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