United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Art: The Prominent Art Fair of the Persian Gulf

Lázaro Pérez-More

The Emirati capital becomes the most prominent art center in the Middle East

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is becoming the most important art hub in the Middle East. Proof of this unprecedented development is the Saadiyat Cultural District, an ongoing project described as a live canvas for global culture. Some of the world’s most distinguished art organizations such as the Louvre and the Guggenheim are establishing their presence with museums in Saadiyat. The district will also house the Zayed National Museum of the UAE, the Maritime Museum and the Performing Arts Center, among other cultural institutions.

Abu Dhabi Art
Mohammed Kazem.

The Saadiyat Cultural District and the entire city will host the 6th edition of Abu Dhabi Art from November 5th to the 8th of 2014. Taking place at Manarat Al Saadiyat, and organized by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Abu Dhabi Art will welcome curators, artists, collectors and art professionals, establishing the event as the leading art fair in the region. This year, the event coincides with the opening of the exhibition Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection, which will take place on the eve of the fair.

Some of the world’s most prestigious galleries will exhibit their finest selection of modern and contemporary works for the delight of Emirati art lovers. Art dealers from all corners of the world will descend upon the city to meet and network with collectors and scholars in an art fest that in its short history has already become an important fixture in the international arts calendar. Read more here about art and culture.

Abu Dhabi Art
Feryel Lakhdar.

The program of activities includes Art Talks, daily public forums that aim to promote the international relevance of the art scene in the UAE. This year’s conversations will reflect on the “life” of the impressive modern museums being built in Saadiyat Island. Among the panelists in 2014, we should mention Jean Nouvel, Ernesto Neto, Vincent Pomarede, Martin Creed, Richard Long, Hassan Hajjaj and Job Smeets, all renowned members of the international art community.

The performing arts will be well represented with outstanding projects such as Hours and Colours, a program that, like a clock, marks the hours of the day with changing tonalities that enhance the visitor experience through chromatic imagery. Inspired by the French Gothic manuscript Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry c. 1410 (The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry), the program includes Blue, a True Color in Art, a video screening with music by Nils Frahm featuring works of art from Ancient Egypt to modern day; Killer Road, a sound exploration and meditation on the idea of perpetual motion by artist and musician Patti Smith; Nioun Rec (Only Us) by Amala Dianor, an improvised dialogue between music and dance; and Rising Carpet, and art installation by Moussa Sarr.

Abu Dhabi Art
Francois Morellet.

A second program of performances titled Durub Al Tawaya and inspired by the philosophical themes of the 12th-century novel Hayy Ibn Yaqzan by Andalusian scholar Ibn Tufail questions the human dependency on material objects. This exploratory series features the Middle East premiere of Paper Music, the latest collaboration between William Kentridge and Philip Miller, as well as Joe Namy’s “Automobile”; Shore Scene Soundtrack by Cevdet Erek; and That Night Follows Day by the theater company Forced Entertainment.

But Abu Dhabi Art is not confined to the Saadiyat Cultural District. The program titled Beyond takes over the city and allows the wider public the opportunity to experience and enjoy monumental works by Francois Morellet, Subodh Gupta, Mohammed Kazem, Shilpa Gupta, Sahand Hesamiyan and Ai Wei Wei, among others. There will also be activities for children and families, architecture and design workshops and a VIP program featuring an expanded selection of exclusive events and tours of Abu Dhabi Art 2014.

Abu Dhabi Art is one more reason to visit this oil-rich Emirate. The ultra modern capital of the United Arab Emirates shines in the desert sun with a roster of museum and galleries, cultural activities and events without precedent. An authentic art renaissance in the Middle East.

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