Sand artist uses Dubai beaches as his canvas

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Using a rake and the sand as his canvas, a Dubai-based Filipino artist creates drawings and portraits on the beaches of the city.

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In the early hours of the morning, Nathaniel Alapide heads to a beach in Dubai and waits for the perfect low tide to start outlining his next masterpiece on the flat and wet sand surface.

Calling it a “morning prayer,” Nathaniel discovered his sand art talent back in 2014, when he decided to draw a family tree on a beach as a tribute to his late grandmother.

"I would create something for like three or four hours and then when the water starts going up, it erases it or it takes it away as well. I like the ephemeral nature to it. It reminds you a lot about life," said Nathaniel.

The 44-year-old artist, who was once an aquarist, turned his hobby of creating sand art into a full-time occupation as he takes on art commissions from hotels.

"It is a very rewarding feeling, it makes you feel connected to your community, to people as well. So as long as I am here, I will keep on creating sand art,” added Alapide.

Earlier this year, Nathaniel took his sand work a step further to the middle of the desert, when he set a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest sand image of the UAE map and leaders.

“For that one it took us 30 days to finish it, actually we were just about to finish it in 20 days, but then it came a time when the weather was really bad and we had some rain and some strong winds and it erased almost 70 percent of what we have done, so we had to start over again," Nathaniel explained.

The self-taught artist has also previously created sand works of Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and of President of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, with no tools but his hands.

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