Manarat Al Saadiyat launches virtual reality exhibition Celestial: A Journey Through Space and Time

Bringing art ever closer to its audiences, Manarat Al Saadiyat has launched a virtual reality (VR) exhibition in collaboration with Nikon Middle East. Celestial: A Journey Through Space and Time runs through 30 December and features stunning photography from UAE-based astrophotographer Samy Olabi.

The exhibition highlights Olabi’s creative process, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the depths of the desert and enabling them to explore the night sky through the eyes of the artist.

Celestial: A Journey Through Space and Time also showcases Olabi’s technical prowess and teaches audiences about an approach to photography that has helped us understand more about the mysteries of the universe.

“Astronomy, arts and adventure were always a passion of mine since I was a child. I used to go camping with my friends when we were teens and we used to lay down, stargaze and dream of travelling through space among galaxies and stars. When I grew up and took Construction Management as a source of living, my passion for art and adventure eventually led me to pursue photography,” said the artist, Samy Olabi.

He added: “Through photography, you can freeze a great moment of time, or share a breath-taking scene with the world. You can deliver deep meaning by expressing your ideas and concepts, which pictures convey silently to dramatic effect. Photography is a visual language that is widely understood and it represents a time-out from the hustle and rapid rhythms of life.”

Fatima Yousef Al Youssef, Public Engagement & Programming Head at Manarat Al Saadiyat, said: "As part of our response to the challenges and difficulties brought about by COVID-19, we have been working hard to explore new ways in which we can bring artists and audiences together. Through innovation and creative solutions, we are excited to be able to continue to enrich the community with world-class art and cultural events.

“The exhibition Celestial: A Journey Through Time and Space brings the immersive excitement of virtual reality to Manarat Al Saadiyat. The power of this technology allows us to highlight the artistic vision of astrophotographer Samy Olabi and provide our audiences with a unique and inspiring cultural experience from the safety of their own homes.”

Narendra Menon, Managing Director of Nikon Middle East FZE, commented: “Nikon Middle East FZE is extremely proud of entering into collaboration with Manarat Al Saadiyat and renowned astrophotographer Samy Olabi to create Celestial. While we are bound by social distancing restrictions, Celestial represents an overcoming of social barriers, a bridge to the community. The vision of Manarat Al Saadiyat and the artist for this project has resulted in an interactive platform that demonstrates the impressive nature of state-of-the-art astrophotography, showing how much we can discover of the deep sky. We are especially proud that Nikon photographic equipment has proved more than capable of capturing the most challenging images and videos. We look forward for further innovative collaborations with Manarat Al Saadiyat.”

Olabi is a multi-award-winning photographer whose body of work is regarded as one of the best in the region, featuring on CNN, National Geographic, Microsoft, Apple billboards and more.

Olabi is one of the many artists that Manarat Al Saadiyat and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi have partnered with to provide a platform for audiences and creatives to share, consider and create all forms of artistic expression.

The virtual exhibition Celestial: A Journey Through Space and Time is free of charge and available for viewing at

Through its events and workshops, Manarat Al Saadiyat seeks to provide residents and visitors with unique, enriching cultural experiences.

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