Wahat Al Karama (Oasis of Dignity)

Idris Khan with UAP and bureau^proberts


This work exemplifies the power of fusion between art and architecture in a project that conveys purpose and emotion and creates a place of reflection, serenity, and significance for its nation.

UAP collaborated with British artist, Idris Khan, to realise a monument as the centrepiece of the new United Arab Emirates (UAE) Memorial Park, ‘Wahat Al Karama,’ in Abu Dhabi. Commissioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the memorial honours the members of the UAE Armed Forces and the sacrifices made in support of their country’s sovereignty, dignity and freedom.

The centrepiece of ‘Wahat Al Karama,’ meaning “the oasis of dignity,” is a 90-metre long monument comprised of 31 leaning tablets which symbolise the support between soldiers, families, and citizens in the face of adversity. Clad with over 850 cast aluminium panels, sections of the tablets are sandblasted and stamped with poems by emirs of the UAE. The ‘Pavilion of Honour’ positioned at the end of the memorial journey was designed by Khan in collaboration with bureau^proberts. The internal walls of the pavilion are clad with over 2,700 plates cast from 11 tons of recycled aluminium sourced from decommissioned armoured vehicles. The plates are embedded with names of UAE heroes whose lives have been lost in service.

UAP worked closely with Khan, from concept design to fabrication and installation, to translate his vision into this monumental work. The use of aluminium is critical for this project as it is the best metal that can withstand the temperature of the place and can keep the creative vision of the artist. The team has also used 11 tons of recycled aluminium sourced from decommissioned armoured vehicles for the nameplates located at the Pavilion of Honor.

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