Dubai – MENA Herald: Art Dubai’s tenth edition closed on Saturday March 19 with participating galleries and artists reporting one of the most successful years of the fair to date. Welcoming international and regional artists, collectors, private museums, institutions and curators from over 90 countries worldwide, Art Dubai reaffirmed its position as the world’s most global fair.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who toured the fair during its Opening Night, the fair preview was inaugurated by the Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, accompanied by, among others, HE Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; HE Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, UAE Minister of Health and Chair of Dubai Culture; HE Hilal Al Marri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing; H.E. Saeed Al Nabouda, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority Acting Director General; HE Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA); HE Essa Kazim, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Art Dubai is a joint venture between the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Middle East Fairs Ltd.
The popular Art Dubai Ladies Preview was opened by the children of HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Art Dubai 2016 was held in partnership with The Abraaj Group, who celebrated their inaugural Abraaj Week alongside the fair, and was sponsored by Julius Baer and Piaget. The fair took place at its home, Madinat Jumeirah. Maserati was the Automotive Partner of Art Dubai 2016. The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority is a strategic partner of Art Dubai and, along with Dubai Design District (d3), supports the fair’s year-round education programme.
Defying apparent market trends, Art Dubai saw solid sales from the VIP preview through to the last day, with around a quarter of galleries selling out, and the vast majority reporting healthy interest and acquisitions from a diverse collector base. Sales ranged from emerging artists under $10,000 through to works well beyond the $300,000 mark by artists such as Ai Wei Wei, Faiq Hassan, Yayoi Kusama, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Marwan, Nasreen Mohammedi, Jaume Plensa, among others.
Antonia Carver, Art Dubai’s Director, said: “With our tenth edition, we’re looking forwards not back, embracing the potential of the UAE and the region’s arts scenes. The exceptional feedback received from collectors, galleries, artists, museums and curators and the ever-increasing attendance figures from both local and international audiences – from ever more diverse locations – illustrate the maturity of the fair and the crucial role it plays in both the wider region and the artworld calendar.”
Among its record number of visitors, Art Dubai 2016 hosted 95 international museums and institutions, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum, New York; London’s British Museum, V&A, Tate; among many others. Many museums brought groups of curators and patrons to the fair, taking advantage of Art Dubai’s extensive, Gulf-wide VIP programmes.
A group of UK institutions visited the fair for the first time as a result of Art Dubai’s ongoing partnership with the British Council, including the Whitworth, Ikon Gallery, Ashmolean Museum, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, National Galleries of Scotland and Iniva, among others.
GALLERIES: CONTEMPORARY, MODERN AND MARKER
Art Dubai Contemporary’s two halls were dominated by large-scale installations and stand-out works by internationally acclaimed artists, presented alongside works by the most exciting emerging artists from the region. Art Dubai 2016 boasted the highest participation to date of galleries from the UAE, illustrating the growing strength of the local scene. Indian contemporary art was also well represented, with eight of the leading galleries from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata taking part; Dubai’s role as an international hub for collectors, artists and galleries from South Asia is growing fast.
Across its wider programming, Art Dubai presented an extremely strong representation of female artists, particularly from the Middle East and South Asia region, with over 45% of the artists participating in the fair being women.
Art Dubai Modern, the only exhibition of its kind worldwide, focusing on the masters of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, sponsored by Mashreq Private Banking for the third consecutive year, attracted particularly significant interest from international museum representatives. Comprised of solo and two-person exhibitions of museum-quality works from 1903 to the 1980s, the sector illustrated the development and artistic history of the region and the fast-growing market demand for these historical works.
Marker, Art Dubai’s thematic gallery programme, was curated this year by artist and writer Ringo Bunoan and featured works by emerging artists from artist-run spaces in Manila, the Philippines. Throughout the week, in this highly popular and dynamic section of the fair, artists established new connections and interest in their work, with sales of pieces by emerging and established artists from the Philippines–reasserting the fair as a site of discovery.
THE ABRAAJ GROUP ART PRIZE
Now in its eighth year, the Abraaj Group Art Prize is the most significant annual artists’ prize in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, and part of the Abraaj Group’s dedicated philanthropic support for both emerging and mid-career artists. The 2016 Abraaj Group Art Prize exhibition, curated by Nav Haq, was particularly well-received; it included a major new film commission awarded to Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, plus works by shortlisted artists Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled and Basir Mahmood.
ART DUBAI PROJECTS & EDUCATION
Art Dubai’s not-for-profit programme, the largest programme of its kind in the world, included residencies, commissions, radio and film programmes, plus new site-specific commissions by eight rising artists from the region. Curator of Art Dubai Projects 2016 Yasmina Reggad presented ambitious interventions throughout the fair, such as transforming the lower ground floor of Madinat Jumeirah into a Sleep Therapy Clinic by Emirati artist/musician Jumairy, which visitors could check into throughout the opening hours of the fair. Jumairy was one of a group of artists that has spent the past two months in-residence at Tashkeel through A.i.R (Artist in Residence) Dubai, a collaboration between Art Dubai, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Tashkeel and Delfina Foundation.
Fulfilling its aim to embrace the eclectic fabric and economy of an art fair, the Projects programme this year enabled visitors to become unknowing participants in a performance by Lydia Ourahmane, which used the hotel’s Wi-Fi network as a platform for a new video commission, realised on visitors’ own mobile phones. Additional highlights included performances by Doa Aly and Areej Kaoud that took place throughout the grounds of the fair, plus major new installations by Shreshta Rit Premnath and Massinissa Selmani.
The educational role the fair plays in the region also continues to grow: a revamped volunteers programme saw 123 young UAE-based enthusiasts involved in all aspects of the fair, while an expanded student programme welcomed over 1000 young people to the fair.
The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program, a partnership between Art Dubai and The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, featured artist Polly Brannan leading theatrical workshops for children aged 5-17, plus a range of discovery tours for all ages. The programme also included visits to schools in the week before Art Dubai, plus the commissioning of a limited edition poster by Khalid Mezaina, among other additional activities. 2016 saw a record 510 children participate in the programme.
THE GLOBAL ART FORUM
The Global Art Forum, now established as the leading annual arts conference in Asia, attracted capacity audiences throughout its three-day run at Art Dubai with record attendance to date. Supported by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Dubai Design District (d3), the Forum continues to consolidate its reputation as one of the world’s most innovative and eclectic talks programmes and, this year, under the title ‘The Future Was,’ hosted more than 50 speakers from across art, science, technology and architecture.
PARTICIPATING GALLERIES COMMENTED ON THEIR EXPERIENCE AT ART DUBAI 2016:
Carlier Gerbauer | Berlin Marie-Blanche Carlier, Director
“This was our first year. We had everything to gain. I met new artists, new collectors – overall our experience has been very, very positive. Art Dubai is an exciting platform for all these different countries to meet and interact, like India and the Arab world. It’s an interesting, communicative platform for us. We sold and had really extraordinary interest in our artists from Brazil, Sweden and Spain. These collectors were from Dubai – people from here – and they were interested in our European and South American artists.”
The Third Line | Dubai Thibault Geffrin, Associate Director
“A lot of curators came. We had good sales at the booth and at the gallery. All the collectors from the region are here. For us, it’s an event we can’t miss. This is the week in the art schedule when everyone is in Dubai.”
Jeanne Bucher Jaeger | Paris Véronique Jaeger, General Director
“This year has been a great success for us, as our 4th year participating here. Every year we consolidate our relationships with clients who we see each year, and we always meet new collectors as well. This week we have sold work by all of the artists that we brought. We have met new collectors from countries including Lebanon, India, Switzerland, and Pakistan. We have also had proposals for our artists from museums and institutions, all through being here at Art Dubai. We have really enjoyed the week, and really feel the people have a genuine interest in the art. We cross the world each year to find a place with real activity and each year we build on the last.”
Experimenter | Kolkata Prateek Raja, Founder
“Usually we see a rush on the first day but this year we have had stable visits throughout the week – including an important work closed on the last day. I think the fair has seen a lot of new faces, also general buzz or feel is good. Lots of detailed thought has gone into how to make the fair more navigable for collectors, galleries and visitors. We feel comfortable at Art Dubai, it’s like a home fair for us. The other collateral events like The Wedding Project and RCA Secret have brought a lot of attention. The Global Art Forum plays its role and brings the intellect to the fair. Everyone looks forward to it.”
Galerie Lelong | New York Myriam Attali, Deputy Director
“It was really a good fair. We saw collectors from all over the world. This year was much better than before – much more interesting for us. We met good and new contacts. We sold some important works like our Jaume Plensa sculpture and works by Etel Adnan who has huge success in this region. We had a lot of very serious interest in Barthelemy Toguo’s painting.”
Galerie Daniel Templon | Paris, Brussels Tessa de Caters, Director
“It was a wonderful fair for us. Every day was a good day, active and busy – we even made a sale on the last day. There was no ‘dead’ day.”
chatterjee & lal | Mumbai Mortimer Chatterjee, co-Director
“For us Art Dubai is crucially important as it functions as an important bridge between global and local art discourses. The fair attracts a great mix of collectors and curators. This week, all of our high value works have sold to new clients/collectors, which makes the whole week really worthwhile for us.”
Kalfayan Galleries | Athens, Thessaloniki Roupen Kalfayan, Arsen Kalfayan, Directors
“This was our ninth participation at Art Dubai. We are very happy with the results. We came originally without knowing anyone, and now we know almost everyone! Over the years we have noticed an increase in collectors from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and also galleries exhibiting from that region.”
Marianne Boesky | New York Serra Pradhan and Adrian Turner, Directors
“We’ve met some great new people from across the region; lots of new collectors – a lot of serious collectors – and it extends even to the last day.”
Agial Art Gallery | Beirut Carol Chebab, Director
“Art Dubai is a very successful art fair. I’ve seen all the people I wanted to see: institutions, collectors, and more. We love being a part of it – we wouldn’t have come back every year for the past decade if we didn’t!”
Grosvenor Gallery | London Conor Macklin, Director
“The fair and Art Dubai Modern has been a great success. We made sales to local and European collectors. We have two potential museum shows that have come out of this fair, and an institutional acquisition as well.”

Karim Francis | Cairo Karim Francis, Director
“This year’s Art Dubai Modern was great. We had lots of museums visit and make potential acquisitions, which was important for our artist Adam Henein. Besides, we had a lot of private collectors – for each piece on the stand we have had many potential buyers.”
Gallery One | Ramallah Samar Martha, Director
“Art Dubai went above and beyond our expectations – the exposure, the institutions, the patrons – we were able to build invaluable connections. We’re hearing from other gallerists the same kind of feedback as well.”