Najat Makki United Arab Emirates, b. 1956

Najat Makki (b. Dubai, 1956) is a pioneering Emirati artist best known for her curiosity for color and dreamlike, abstracted depictions of the natural landscape in the UAE. What started as childlike wonder led her to Cairo, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in relief sculpture and metal from the College of Fine Arts (1982 and 1998, respectively). Upon returning to the UAE, the colorist and painter started exploring fluorescent paints through her work in scenography for children at the Ministry of Education, introducing the Gulf to a style of abstract painting that is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color, spread across, creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. Her use of this material in contemporary art contexts created an unconventional viewing experience, often accompanied by UV-A lights that elevate matter from canvas in lurid dimensionality. This experimentation was first debuted in her solo exhibition at Al Wasl Club in Dubai in 1987, marking a turning point in her career and gaining her regional recognition. Makki later returned to the Egyptian capital to pursue a doctorate degree, making her the first Emirati woman to formally specialize in the philosophy of art (2001), adding a theoretical dimension to her practical aptitude and visual flair.


Makki has exhibited widely in her home country but also internationally in Egypt, France, Germany, India, Jordan, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Sharjah Art Museum, the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi, Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation in Dubai, Women’s Museum in Dubai and the Ministry of Culture and Youth in Abu Dhabi, among many. Makki was the only female artist among the 15 showing at 1980 – Today: Exhibitions in the UAE, the National Pavilion UAE, the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) curated by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, and had an acclaimed retrospective at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi entitled Luminescence (2019). She is a current member of the Dubai Cultural Council, the Emirates Plastic Arts Society and Art Friends Society. A multi-award-winning artist, she has received the Emirates Appreciation Award (2015), the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development’s National Award for Arts, Sciences, and Literature (2008), Gulf Cooperation Council Biennial Award (1998), Sultan Bin Owais Cultural Award (1994), Jury Award, First session of Sharjah Biennial (1993), in addition to several excellence and merit certificates.


Najat Makki is represented by Aisha Alabbar in the United Arab Ermirates.