Jumeirah Patrons Preview (2011)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
As well as being a conduit for the global art scene, art fairs must react to the needs of their local communities. Achieving and maintaining this balance is perhaps why Art Dubai has found success and is considered the leading international art fair in the Middle East.
Dubai was a ripe site for an art fair to be established in 2007. Christie’s first series of auctions had tested the waters in 2006 to great success and the gallery scene was growing in sophistication.
Its location at an international crossroads led to Art Dubai quickly becoming the most global of art fairs, making connections possible between all continents for galleries, collectors, artists, museum directors, patrons and curators.
Art Dubai Contemporary (2017)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
Rooted in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, Dubai continues to be a safe space to showcase artworks from across the Arab World.
In addition, Dubai provided a mid-ground between the more established markets in South Asia and the Far East with Europe. MENASA, a term used to define the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, has been a clear focus and specialism for Art Dubai.
Since 2014 the Modern gallery section has been a place to see works produced by modern masters from the MENASA region in the 20th century, with important new scholarship on trans-modernism through the gallery displays, accompanying talks programmes and publications.
The contemporary galleries which generated the most traction right from the early years were those that displayed an interest in art practices from the Global South. This economic term has grown to be an important definition for an area of the world which has been calling out for representation.
Art Dubai has fostered a workable global model that highlights local and regional talent whilst being a place to see cutting edge art from across the world and in particular from the Global South.
From 2019 one section of the fair ‘Bawwaba’ (translated from Arabic to mean ‘gateway’) has featured a curated range of solo presentations from galleries and artists from this specific geographical region, highlighting current artistic preoccupations and establishing a binary between art created in the so-called non-west.
Labelled as a fair of discovery, Art Dubai embraces its role in cultivating new narratives and driving meaningful engagement with the rich cultural heritage and contemporary art practices of the Global South. A major catalyst for conversations and developments in the arts world – Art Dubai has been the place where leading museum directors developed acquisition committees and its exhibitions and programming has triggered important research and publications on previously untold histories.