It was 6:00am on Saturday the 25th of May, the countdown to Venice has ended, and a new heartbeat took its place. I sat on the edge of my bed looking at my bag, my clothes and my room pondering the fact that this will be the last time I see my room for another 6 weeks. I felt anxious, nervous but definitely prepared, I knew that this experience will eventually change my life onwards, the many journeys that we take in life generally give you some sort of new meaning to what is happening right now in yours to keep and yours to forever cherish, this motivated me to get off my bed and move to the airport.
Rushing through the infamous duty free at Dubai Airport hoping to reach my plane as I was almost 5 min late, I passed through many people going in different destinations in their life, thinking to myself, some are on their usual family trip, some to attend a funeral, some to find happiness, or even work. This time I have a reason, I am those people that go to a certain destination to do something, to achieve something, to find new understandings and to finally maybe better themselves by adapting to a new culture. I have a purpose. I boarded the plane, it was old, smelly and a bit hot but I cared less, I was on my way to the land of masks, to the city of bridges, to the life of the renaissance and trade. I was off to a new exploration, and slept to further ponder on what to expect.
Myself and the programming/photography crew arrived to Venice and moved quite swiftly through passport control and got our bags fast, all good signs from Marco Polo airport until now. Leaving the airport I was surprised because the weather was beautiful, not many would agree with me but I am a sucker for good, cold, uk-inspired weather and we got just that in Venice. We jumped in the water taxi and went to the San Zaccaria square, as we finally glided slowly to the pier my heartbeat was silently tapping my rib-cage wanting to visually see what my eyes saw, it was amazed by the sudden calmness of my body that it needed a break from itself and reach out to see my surroundings. I wish my words could resemble the beauty of this place, the way the people are exceptionally friendly and exceeded almost every possible expectation that I had in mind.
I met Mariam, our mentor/coach/boss and most importantly friend at the pier waiting with open arms, after the quick embrace, I was eager to see where I would stay for the next 5 weeks of my life, where would I be to explore my new age. The apartment was tucked in behind a hotel which was almost 10 minutes from San Marco square (the hustle and bubble of tourism in Venice) and almost 13 minutes from the Arsenale which was my new work space. It was a 2 bedroom apartment with all the needed amenities to go on life with, I was so grateful at that specific moment to the UAE pavilion for giving me such a chance, such an unforgettable chance.
Work has started and we rushed to the Pavilion, we got the boxes organized and books prepared, from press packs to VIP packs everything needed to be done. Luckily the next Adel would arrive to support, and I was looking forward to reunite with a dear friend. At night Venice turned into a dark medieval dragon raining non-stop for hours, making the sea water hit the hard blocks of marble around the grounds of the grand canal, I was so surprised by the weather, didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse. After having dinner and going through this day, tomorrow is a new day.
Adel arrived in Venice, and the day was sunny with a gush of wind racing along the clouds. After showing Adel the apartment, we then went straight to work, carrying multiple boxes, organizing and giving a helping hand when needed, I felt like we were one team, a true family working as one.
It was time for the Press day (only invited press from the Venice biennale team) and we got our formal Emirati clothes to raise our heads high supporting our own country in a city where history is a piece of treasure. This day was the most nervous of days, due to it being an important first impression to make and how we will cope with this. At the end of the day we had almost 450 media/journalist/visitors (VIP) to the event and this is just within 9 hours. Tomorrow is a new day and a new journey.
One thing readers, and interns coming to Venice:
Venice is not smelly, Venice is not boring, and yes Venice has Wifi.
Welcome to Contemporary Venice, a new world of old Venice.