Dubai philanthropist Alejandra Rioseco feels inspired – News
There is no denying that Dubai is a land of opportunity. People visit Dubai, or dream of, from all over the world given the city’s reputation. And why wouldn’t they do it? Dubai has become a hub that invites talent from all over the world to be part of this progressive society.
One of them is Alejandra Castro Rioseco, a Chilean philanthropist, whose family has its roots in Spain. Alejandra has been in Dubai for two and a half years. Here, she leads the MIA and MIAAnywhere Art Collection, a virtual private art collection with a global footprint aimed at promoting women artists and their works. Founded in March 2020, it allows visitors to walk around a virtual museum space that showcases the artwork of women across the world.
Alejandra is working on the construction of a museum reserved for women artists, a project that has been close to her heart for more than 10 years. The philanthropist tells City Times about her journey and how Dubai, as a progressive city, inspires her.
What prompted you to move from civil engineering to philanthropy?
I think that education or profession does not define our personality. In my case, my education does not define my personality. Philanthropy is a lifestyle, it’s caring about others. When I was in engineering, I found out that I didn’t really like it.
Philanthropy is something that works in my family. When I was young, my mother visited a lot of elderly people and helped them. It made me realize that they were part of our family. And that’s why I wanted to live this way.
Virtual being the new normal, what impact has it had on your work?
Of course, the pandemic has impacted so many people. But I am a very positive person. When the pandemic started, I saw two options before me; one was to stay home and do nothing but wonder what had happened, and the other was to do something for others.
I noticed that all art exhibitions were closed due to the pandemic, and within a week I started a virtual museum with the help of my team. I thought of all the women artists and how their work has been affected by the pandemic. This is exactly why I created the virtual museum. I can say it was a success because, now, when the pandemic subsided, the virtual museum features works of art from all over the world.
How do you blend your pillars of engagement: empowering women with art and technology?
It’s like cooking, taking all the ingredients and mixing them together. Women have the opportunity to work at home. In today’s age, we can work remotely, even from home, thanks to technology. As for art, it is something very sensitive. All of this together is an amazing mix. When I put these three together, I know it’s a great support to society. I also think art with technology is the future. And, everything I do involves women. It’s an ingredient that never changes.
How has Dubai helped or inspired you in your career as a philanthropist?
I feel very inspired in Dubai, the city has taught me so much. Seeing Dubai’s progress in such a short period of time, its quality of life and the government’s interest in people’s quality of life is very inspiring. It’s philanthropy for me. Here the government understands that the problem of the people is the problem of the government. This is very admirable, especially when you compare the pandemic situation in other countries to that of the United Arab Emirates.
In terms of work, I feel like I can make all my dreams of art and philanthropy come true here. When others tell me that this is only possible because I live in an oil-rich country, I give them the example of Venezuela to prove them wrong. The UAE government also inspires its people, giving them the opportunity to use their talents.
What is the story behind the name MIA?
Mia is a Spanish given name. Initially, I didn’t have a name for my foundation. Later, when I started collecting works of art, I had to have a name for my organization. A short, simple name that people could remember. The “M” in “MIA” stands for “Mujer” in Spanish which translates to woman. If you reverse the ‘W’ it becomes ‘M’. “I” and “A” represent international art, which makes it Mujer International Art (MIA).
When I decided on the name, I wanted it to have a female personality, which is why I chose Mia. It’s a beautiful name, like Aisha. He has a complete female personality.
How do you plan to expand MIA’s art collection?
Today, MIA has around more than 900 works of art from different countries. I also have five artists from UAE. Now that I live here in Dubai this is a great opportunity for me as I want more Emirati artists. My plan for the next two years is to collect more art from Emirati artists.
My idea is to create a platform for Emirati artists where they can showcase their art globally. I want to help put their work in major exhibitions around the world. It’s a big step for Emirati artists and I think it’s fantastic.
After UAE, I will explore opportunities in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq and many more.
What do you think of Dubai as an emerging global arts destination?
I think Dubai needs more support for art. Abu Dhabi has the Louvre Museum and the Guggenheim. I think Dubai should invest a little more in art, but in good art. Of course, it is a tourist town, and given its building history, it needs more historic art museums. If there is one thing Dubai needs, it is more museums of historical art.
Why do you think art is so imperative for a progressive society?
Art represents the history of mankind. Art is a reflection of what has happened in humanity. Through art, you can see the history, the good and the bad. When people understand the story, they can make better decisions. Through art we have information and it can help us make better decisions as a society. This is the role of art galleries and exhibitions.