Fight against climate change meets art at Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives

Jumeirah Vittaveli has unveiled the White Fire art exhibition, showcasing a stunning new synergy of coral conservation and conceptual art.

The exhibition showcases photographs by award-winning local photographer Mohamed ‘Double Dot’ Azmeel, in a venue that has been turned into an experiential art gallery.

The entrance beckons visitors in, flanked by two larger than life white coral walls, guiding the view as if through a tunnel to the centrepiece of a large table display of bleached corals, symbolising the effect of global warming. Eight creative oversized photographs encircle the venue, showcasing the artist’s unique artistic interpretation that celebrates visual culture and artistic achievement through photography.

The opening night last week saw a life model in a white custom-made coral gown enacting the plight of corals in today’s warming oceans. The entire exhibit glows in white, enchanting visitors with its elegance and haunting beauty, as the white colour signifies that all life has left the once colourful corals.

To kick off the evening, Shaheena Ali took the stage and introduced the audience to the threats of global warming and the dangers of coral bleaching.

A professional dive instructor and Executive Director for Parley for the Ocean in Maldives, Shaheena spoke about how her passion for corals grew from her first dives when she was a young girl and admired the astounding colour palette that grows just under the surface of the sea, providing a habitat for such a diversity of marine life. She then recounted the distressing experience when she was diving during the first major El Niño event in 1998 and saw the coral reefs had turned completely white.

Only a few degrees increase in ocean temperature can adversely affect coral reefs, as the corals will expel the microscopic algae that live in its tissue in a symbiotic relationship and give the corals their bright and lively colours. If the water does not cool down fast enough, the corals will eventually die off, turning a once rainbow coloured reef first to bright white and then to a dull and lifeless brown.

Jumeirah Vittaveli’s General Manager Abhijit Ghosh thanked Shaheena for her passionate presentation.

“We are proud to host this important exhibition at Jumeirah Vittaveli. Living in such a fragile eco environment, with the highest point of natural elevation only 2.5 metres in the Maldives, fighting climate change and doing our part to support eco-conservation efforts is close to our heart,” Abhijit said.

“We have implemented a range of initiatives in this regard, such as sustainable purchasing, working with local fishermen and agricultural islands to source fish and produce, operating our own water bottling plant, and creating artificial coral reefs to support the natural marine life surrounding the island. We look forward to further collaborations with Mohamed Azmeel in our constant pursuit to highlight the dangers of environmental pollution.”

A rousing speech followed, delivered by no less than homegrown eco activist and the country’s former president Mohamed Nasheed, who famously held a cabinet meeting underwater in 2009 to alert the world to the dangers of climate change.

President Nasheed likened the red flame of fire to the bright white colour of dying coral reefs, explaining how the title of the exhibition, White Fire, eerily illustrates the devastating effect global warming has on the beautiful coral reefs in the Maldives.

“We as Maldivians are the best people to alert the world to the dangers of climate change. We have been seeing its impact on our shores first-hand, and we understand the danger it poses to the planet. We need to ensure that international powers commit to limiting global warming and we all work together to fight climate change,” he said.

The artist himself Mohamed Azmeel welcomed guests with a short speech: “This has been a vision of mine that I have been working on for the past few years. I am honoured to have the opportunity to showcase this exhibition to guests at Jumeirah Vittaveli. I am already working on my next initiative that will go a step further in highlighting the plight of our oceans. Now, I will let my artwork speak for itself.”

The White Fire exhibition will be hosted at Jumeirah Vittaveli until 15 February 2020. It is open daily, and the artist will visit the island for several private viewings as well as meet-and-greet events.

Jumeirah Vittaveli is on the forefront of sustainability, having been Green Globe certified since 2015, and continuously works on implementing further initiatives to preserve the environment.

With a traditional Maldivian welcome and more activities to fill your days with than you can dream of, Jumeirah Vittaveli is the perfect place for all the family to speed things up or slow things down. Land and water-based activities include the destination’s first ice rink, a PADI Dive base, water sports centre, Talise Spa, six restaurants and bars, a wine library, an overwater lounge, an underground whisky and chocolate salon and a cigar lounge.

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