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Omani designer who studied under Zaha Hadid explores virtual art forms

Oman’s first virtual reality artist, who studied under Zaha Hadid, wants people to explore art that exists beyond the physical realm.

Haitham Al Busafi, 31, who runs his own architecture firm in Qurum, a district of Muscat, said it was urban design which inspired him to explore the possibilities of the virtual world.

At the University of Applied Art in Vienna, Austria, where he studied, Al Busafi started to understand and appreciate how buildings could be designed on computer in a paperless office environment.

“I was exposed to one of the most progressive design schools in the world and began using a lot of software, which was used by film companies to create special effects to design buildings, and that allowed me to play with spaces in an unexpected and surprising way,” he said.

In his third year, he studied under Hadid, and wrote his thesis on how architects could design buildings in the virtual world.

“We looked at virtual reality as a new medium, where you can really feel the space around you, because it’s going to be 3D,” said Al Busafi.

“When it comes to playing with space, architects are the leaders, and my interest in architecture and graphic design made me wonder how I would combine these to create art and express myself.

“Virtual reality, as an artistic tool, is an unexplored territory. Creations here are not static, but dynamic. When you are in the virtual space, you are close to everything around there, so you see it, you experience it and you walk around it.”