Mona Al Khaja (b. Sharjah, 1958) is an Emirati painter. Having graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Cairo of Helwan University, in 1981, Mona studied under influential artists and educators from the Arab World including Hamed Nada, Mohammed Riyadh, and Ahmed Nawar. She is considered among the founding artists of the contemporary art scene in the UAE.
As one of the first generation of UAE artists, Mona’s approach to painting is the result of formal study in the history of art, training in Egypt alongside artists such as Dr. Najat Makki and Abdulrahim Salim, as well as mastering techniques unique to Islamic culture. These sources provide her with abundant inspiration that she translates to the Emirati present, often blending symbolism and impressionist abstraction into her signature style. Mona uses figuration and abstraction, deliberately layering and blending colours and strokes to capture simplicity so elaborately. The artist mirrors her experience observing and recollecting acts of life at home and abroad.
She has had several solo exhibitions in the UAE, including Observe + Absorb, Majlis Gallery, Dubai (2019); Harmony: Aesthetics of Ornamentation in Emirati Heritage, Sharjah Heritage Museum, Sharjah (2019); and Chromatic Horizons, Sharjah University, Sharjah (2015).
Mona is a member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society and has continuously participated in its Annual Exhibition since its founding in 1980, in addition to participating in its international exhibitions in Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, France, Japan, Spain, Germany, Singapore, Iran, India and Morocco.
She participated in numerous exhibitions in the UAE, including 7 + 7, Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation, Dubai (2020); Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years, Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi (2018); The Perpetual Kingdom: Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy, Gallery Ward, Dubai (2016); Sikka Art Fair, Dubai (2015); Her Colourful Papers, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum, Sharjah (2010); and Sharjah Biennial (2001 and 1999). Internationally, Mona participated in notable exhibitions, including Kunooz Fine Art Exhibition and Auction, Bvlgari Hotel Knightsbridge & Christie’s, London, UK (2015); Jewels from the Emirates, Delta City Mall, Podgorica, Montenegro (2011); The Reflective Mirror, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, USA (2010); The International Exhibition of the Renaissance and Great Masterpieces of World Art, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (2009); Cairo Biennial (2004); Kuwait Biennial (2002); and Oman Art Biennial (1990).
Mona has received multiple awards, including the Al Owais Award, Dubai (2019 and 2004); and L’Officiel Arab Women Award, Dubai (2010). She also participated in the Fujairah International Arts Festival Residency in 2018.
The artist sold her first two paintings at age 14 to a prominent art patron in the UAE. Today, her works are in important collections in the UAE, including American University of Sharjah in Sharjah; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cultural Foundation and Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage in Abu Dhabi; and Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation and Commercial Bank of Dubai in Dubai; and internationally in The Jordan Museum in Amman, Jordan. Her works are also in private collections in the UAE and abroad.