A gigantic iridescent, oil drill-shaped sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri has launched a striking public art programme from Expo 2020 Dubai.

The scheme brings together 11 leading artists from the United Arab Emirates, region and the world.

Alongside Al Qadiri, the commissioned artists are Hamra Abbas, Afra Al Dhaheri, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Abdullah Al Saadi, Asma Belhamar, Olafur Eliasson, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Khalil Rabah, Yinka Shonibare and Haegue Yang.

The immersive contemporary artworks will form a creative journey around the public spaces of the event and will live on as part of the future city of District 2020.

As the first curated permanent open-air art exhibition in the country, it will leave a lasting impact.

The programme takes inspiration from the Arab mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn Al Haytham’s seminal work, Book of Optics (c. 11th century).

Ibn Al Haytham has been called “the father of modern optics” for his significant theories and foundational principles of optics and visual perception.

The concept of the programme provides a prism to view contemporary art creations and a context that allows an exploration of the philosophical aspect of his theories on visual perception, including his definitions of vision, recognition and the impossibility of envisioning a full picture of reality within oneself, without the power of imagination.

Tarek Abou El Fetouh, public art curator at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the public art programme with Chimera by artist Monira Al Qadiri.

“Her bold sculpture with its magnified size and reflective colour makes it seem like a futuristic creature from outer space.

“Through this sculpture, the artist attempts to merge the pre- and post-oil eras into one body.

“She creates aesthetic connections between pearls and oil, through their colour, materiality, symbolism, ecology and economy in order to reimagine the past, present and future of the wider Gulf region.”