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Charity Spotlight: START

START is a non-profit organisation established by Art Dubai and the Al Madad Foundation which applies the universal language of art to heal, educate and enrich the skills and opportunities of children in the poorest areas of the Middle East.

The programme seeks to educate and empower the younger generation by giving them a voice through the expression of art, engaging them with their communities and their peers, and by teaching them a sense of self-worth.

START runs full-time workshops in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine offering art education for refugee and orphaned children.  In the UAE, START runs workshops for children with special needs including Autism and Down Syndrome.

START uniquely encourages international artists to become volunteers in the field of humanitarian aid and education by participating in their workshops.

We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of our sponsors, partners and of the many people who tirelessly contribute their time and effort enabling START to reach over 736 refugee, orphaned and children with special needs per week!

In the UAE

START hosts workshops for children with special needs including Autism and Down Syndrome. START’s programme aims to help children augment their critical thinking, problem solving and cognitive development. The workshops are taught by practicing artists who volunteer their time to create lesson plans and directly engage with the children.

START’s volunteers work with the children on a one to one basis and an exhibition at the end of term is held, where friends, family and members of the art community come to enjoy the achievements of the children.

START has now launched additional workshops with:

  • The Pavilion Downtown, Dubai
  • Tuesday Group at the Jamjar, Dubai
  • The Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • ADMAF (Abu Dhabi’s Music and Arts Foundation)

Volunteer with START

Volunteers help to support START workshops and educational projects in Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE. START works with artists, art students and non-art professionals as our volunteers and ambassadors. START welcomes all support; volunteers do not need an art background to participate.

If you are passionate about START’s objectives and wish to use your time to support a workshop, mentor a child or fundraise then please contact or visit

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