Setting up our display at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

We are super excited to be setting up our display to promote Mangroves from the Water and its quest to highlight and protect the mangroves in the UAE and the world!

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington D.C. this summer,
June 22–27 and June 30–July 4. The featured programs this year are “Earth Optimism × Folklife:
Inspiring Conservation Communities” and “United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory.”
Over two weeks, visitors can enjoy music performances, craft workshops, cooking demonstrations,
hands-on activities, and more—all free, and a selection of events livestreaming worldwide.
We’re excited to take part in this annual celebration of culture of, by, and for the people, and we invite
you to join us in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Save the dates and learn more at!


Here is a sneaky peak …

Radio Interview: Zahidah highlights the MFTW’s participation at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

In a recent The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast interview, curator and founding artist Zahidah Zeytoun Millie highlights the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) display at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Please listen to this important and informative interview here: The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast

Zahidah talks of ‘earth optimism’ and ‘ecological intimacy’, and she believes in the importance of art on using a ‘soft language’ about the climate scientists’ messages. She is taking this concern to the international stage later this month at a prestigious festival in Washington DC, USA: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

This summer, the @SmithsonianFolk Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. We’re
excited to take part and invite you to join us, June 22–27 and June 30–July 4!
Learn more:


MFTW features in the UAE program at the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Preparations underway for the UAE exhibition

2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 22–27 and June 30–July 4, 2022
National Mall, Washington, D.C.

In 2022, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington D.C. after a two-year hiatus.

The two-week event includes two major themed programs:

United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory, exploring the cultural traditions of the UAE, and Earth Optimism × Folklife: Inspiring Conservation Communities, celebrating conservation successes.

As always, the Festival invites visitors to participate in hands-on activities, craft workshops, cooking and gardening demonstrations, conversations, and performances.
The Festival kicks off with an evening concert on June 22. Daytime programming begins June 23.

Hours are generally 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with evening concerts and special presentations starting at 6:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

For the first time, events in the Folklife Studio and all evening concerts will be livestreamed on YouTube
and Facebook. ASL interpretation and closed captioning will be provided for these programs.

The Mangroves from the Water team will share more details shortly of our participation in these events. We are very excited and honoured to have been selected to participate!

In the news: UAE’s participation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington D.C.

Khaleej Times features the UAE’s participation in the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

The article includes a YouTube video message by Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US, who said “since the first Folklife Festival in 1967, the event has honoured global cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them”.

“The 2022 festival theme is UAE – Living Landscape l Living Memory. These two primary pillars will introduce festival attendees to arts, poetry, cuisine and other cultural traditions that have made the UAE an inclusive, modern and pioneer nation in just 50 years,” added Al Otaiba (Khaleej Times).

Please read the full article by Waheed Abbas for Khaleej Times here:

The iconic obelisk The Washington Monument where the festival will take place.

Launched in 1967, the Festival is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage presented annually in the summer in Washington, DC. This year’s edition, Living Landscape | Living Memory, will be held from June 22 to 27 and June 30 to July 4 at the National Mall, Washington DC, and will feature the UAE.

Mangroves from the Water will be there!!

Announcement: MFTW is participating in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C.

With great pleasure the Mangroves from the Water exhibition will be a part of the United Arab Emirate pavilion at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival to be held at the National Mall, the park in the heart of the capital of the United States surrounded by the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC.  

The 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will showcase the UAE, participating for the first time, along with the program Earth Optimism x Folklife highlighting community-based conservation. The festival will open on 22 June and close on 4 July, taking place over two weeks.  Events are free to the public and typically draw more than 600 000 visitors.

UAE Program Snapshot

United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory will explore the cultural traditions that emerge from Emirati experiences of migration and survival in close connection with land and sea.  At the same time, the program will be forward-looking and highlight visions for a diverse, sustainable future. The program is organised around three thematic clusters: Belonging, Place, and Creativity.  Engaging in majlis sessions on key topics, participants have the opportunity to share their experiences as artists, tradition-bearers and cultural experts.

Approximately 85 invited participants and presenters will make up the UAE delegation, representing a broad range of cultural heritage skills and knowledge.  This will be the first time that the UAE has been represented at the Festival, as well as the first Arab country since 2005.  The program curation is based on collaborative research.  We highly value the cooperation with many individuals and entities that make rich, accurate Festival programs possible.

The program team is lead by co-curators Michele Bambling and Rebecca Fenton, along with program coordinator Pablo Molinero Martinez.

For more information about the Smithsonian Festival, please open this link.

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie, Artist 

‘Mangroves from the Water’ founder & curator

The Enviro Hero Biography Program features curator and founder Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

We are happy to share a biography written about the founder of the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) by Thomas D, a Grade 4 school student of The Geelong College.  The biography was part of the Enviro Hero biography program supported by three teachers, one of whom is John Henderson, Thomas’ teacher.  The aim of the program was to teach students about their surrounding environment and the local people who help the environment.  

We think the Enviro Hero biographies program was successful and the students learned a lot about their environment, how to write a biography and how to get environmentally active in the future. 

We thank The Geelong College for running the Enviro Hero biographies program and for the book that holds copies of all the biographies.  We thank the teacher John, and his student Thomas for his beautiful written and portrait work.  

Finally, we’d love all schools to add such a program to their curricula.  Please download the files below to see the students’ reflections on the Enviro Hero biographies program

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

Founder and Curator

Development of UAQ Mangrove beach

Artists have always been the inspiration for new ideas that business people take for granted. 

The Mangroves from the Water art campaign was born in the UAE emirate of Umm Al Quwain, starting with a touring exhibition (2015-2016) and a festival in 2017.  We are happy and proud to see the fruits of our touring artworks. zanzibar-inspired-restaurant- mikoko-hut-has-opened-at-uaq- mangrove-beach/?fbclid= IwAR0iF3j7QOrvABZruLWe1FoDtI8E jJhwuJIUpH6ZpUmQv3dUKrgjBcXwJP Y

Here are some images of the cleaned up area leading towards the new developed beach..

Zahirah Zeytoun Millie


CCCNN covers the Mangroves from the Water exhibition

Thank you to CCCNN – Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network – for highlighting the Mangroves from the Water exhibition in Geelong held in August and recognizing our founder and curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie (member).

Please view their website to see the post and read all about the CCCNN’s mission and the wonderful work they do.

About the CCCNN:

Network focus

The Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network (CCCNN) seeks to complement existing climate change-related research activity at Deakin, critically focusing on the politics and practices of climate change narration and communication in a time of climate emergency.

This includes analysis of the assumptions, intentions, strategies and tools of climate change narration and communication – or broadly, storytelling – in public contexts and by stakeholders invested in the structural and imaginative changes required to mitigate climate change.

There are many assumptions about what storytelling is, how it’s done, and what works, in climate change communication. This is reflected in an increasing ubiquity of ‘stories’ in organisational responses to climate change, focused on public engagement.

As a network, we aim to explore nuanced, critically formed ways of thinking about storytelling and its capacities. We ask what is best practice in climate change communication that draws on this nuance and how is climate change communication being done, what are its limits, and who does it exclude? How can climate communication strategies innovate to engage with diverse demographics and multiple communities?

An outward-facing imperative

Our imperative is outward facing: scientists tell us we have less than ten years to avert the worst impacts of climate change. What we need now is real-world action and effective change.

We aim to contribute to climate change action and mitigation beyond the rhetorical and theoretical, while still interrogating our own knowledges, practices and histories within the academy, and contributing generatively to these.

Video of the Mangroves from the Water exhibition opening

We are so excited to share this video capturing the official opening of our Mangroves from the Water exhibition, 14 August, Gordon Gallery, Geelong.

To view the complete video, please visit our Mangroves from the Water YouTube page.

A huge thank you to Phil Hines for all the photography on the day, and creating this video.

Here is a shorter version giving a quick overview of the show:

The reveal ! – monoprint workshop with Nicola

Nicola Cerini led a monoprint workshop in the Gordon Gallery, in front of her beautiful printed linen artworks.

Monoprint is an easy instant and one-off original printing process and we highly recommend you try your hand at this technique.

A rough interpretation of the technique: The participants use various coloured ink on a plate (usually a simple piece of glass), and introduce various ways of mark-making from scratching to drawing directly into the ink. Thereafter, paper is placed on top and the ink is transferred by rolling with a brayer (this could be done with strong hands or even a spoon, but even pressure is advised). Peel the paper off the plate, and reveal the masterpiece!

Here are a couple of images of the reveals, and the process…