In our continuing series spotlighting the experiences of local talent, this conversation will delve into current opportunities and challenges that artists are facing with careers based in the UAE.

Hear from locally based artists: Indian vocalist, songwriter, and performing artist, Shilpa Ananth; actor, writer, producer and co-founder of The Junction, Gautam Goenka, as well as Emirati artist Mohamed Khalid as they share how they have navigated creating work across various genres.


Gautam Goenka

Gautam Goenka is a director, actor, producer and storyteller who has been an integral part of the theatre scene in Dubai for the past 22 years. During this period, he has successfully staged over 100 plays in various capacities. In 2015, he co-founded The Junction – a 180-seater black box theatre in Alserkal Avenue to promote theatre and performing arts by UAE based performers. He serves as the Artistic Director of The Junction, helping the theatre community grow and flourish. Gautam was awarded the UAE Golden Cultural Visa for his work in the field of performing arts.

Gautam is also the president of H72 Productions, the largest community theatre group in the UAE which currently has over 2000 members. Some of Gautam’s most notable directing credits include “Every Brilliant Thing”, “A Few Good Men”, “And Then There Were None”, “Almost, Maine”, “Holmes & Watson”, “The Odd Couple” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Mohamed Khalid

Mohamed Khalid (b.1996, Dubai) is an artist, walking, running, cycling and driving. Khalid examines the materiality of everyday objects and coaxes out their metaphoric potential. Through fabricating receipts, playing with street cats, composing fictional tours and stealing corporate pens, he dissects ironies embedded in his everyday surroundings. What begins as an arbitrary flânerie, develops into a methodical formula that addresses philosophical and phenomenological, revealing the spatial, poetic relationships between his subjects and their frangible correlation to human beings.

Khalid is alumnus of programs Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship and Campus Art Dubai 7.0 with previous group shows in Yorkshire, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi

Shilpa Ananth

Shilpa Ananth is an Indian vocalist, songwriter, and performing artist based between the US, and the UAE. With a unique sound that fuses the dreamy landscapes of South India with Soul, Jazz, and Electronic influences, Shilpa brings together 3 of the oldest Indian languages – Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi – with English, creating art that transcends borders and cultures.

After graduating with honors from Berklee College of Music, and releasing a successful debut EP ‘Indian Soul’, Shilpa has recorded and performed with Grammy award-winning composers, A.R.Rahman, Bobby McFerrin, Bill Whalen, Chandrika Tandon, and Javier Limon’s ‘Original Quartet’
Shilpa is currently finishing up her second EP of original music titled ‘Reproduction set to release in Summer 2023.