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Art Dubai 2017: Your ultimate guide

As the region’s pioneering art fair returns, here are the top tips on discovering and collecting art through the fair’s 11th edition

  • Cedric Delsaux’s Droid Army atthe East Wing GalleryImage Credit: Supplied
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This year, Art Dubai welcome 94 galleries from a record 43 countries showcasing works by over 500 artists, making this the most global edition to date. “The many new energies that are coming in from all over the world is something I am looking forward to,” says Myrna Ayad, the new Fair Director of Art Dubai. “We are delighted to welcome Latin American energy coming from first-time participants from Uruguay, Chile, and Peru as well as a freshman participant from Algeria and our largest ever contingent of Iranian galleries.”

• Art Dubai’s Modern hall dedicated to the work of masters from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia remains the only platform to discover art from this genre. This year, the fair presents 15 such galleries from 12 countries with works by modernists from Iran, Palestine, Jordan, Pakistan and India, among others. The Art Dubai Modern Symposium, led by art historians, academics and curators, intends to widen the narrative around modernist practices in the regions.

• As part of the fair’s performance-only commissions, five artists will perform across various venues, one of which will be a tribute to the late Hassan Sharif by Yasmina Reggad and Lana Fahmi.

• Helmed by Moroccan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Meriem Bennani, this year’s edition of the Art Dubai Bar is inspired by public places that encourage social interactions amongst strangers. Bennani presents an interactive installation titled Ghariba/Stranger, featuring viewing pods relaying playful video portraits of Moroccan women.

• This year, Beirut-based art collective Atfal Ahdath will create The Room: Cooking Liberty, a surrealist visual and gastronomic experience. Taking cues from Salvador Dali’s cookbook, Les Diners de Gala, and through exaggeration and repetition, Ahdath invites guests to experience its live visceral installation, open to the public.

WATCH: Pablo Del Val, International Director of Art Dubai talks about the eleventh edition that begins tomorrow


Should you buy art as an investment? Hugh Grant’s decision to spend $3.4 million (Dh12.4 million) on his Warhol in 2001 certainly paid off. Not only have rising art prices energised the market in established genres, there has also been a significant expansion in sectors like Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern art and a surge in demand for contemporary works in general. However, the art market still remains intimidating for newcomers. Masa Al Kutoubi, the Specialist for Modern and Contemporary Art at Christie’s Dubai, offers some pointers to those starting to build a collection.

Build your knowledge

You should never be afraid to ask for advice from the many experts in the art market. Collectors keen to broaden their knowledge should read specialist publications such as the Art Newspaper, Art+Auction and Christie’s Magazine, visit as many exhibitions and gallery shows as possible. Make full use of information found in auction catalogues, as well as dedicated online resource such where collectors can view past prices realised by artists at auction.

Research, research, research

The artist is obviously of great importance in determining price. Is it an artist who already has a considerable track record at auction, whose works have been purchased or loaned to museums for display? The medium of the work is crucial too, as is the state of the piece. When buying at auction, ask for condition reports on lots prepared by the auction house, which are available on request.


Which period is the artwork from? It is a time when the artist was at their peak or one when they were not at their best? Provenance — the work’s history, which in some cases has stretched through centuries or has gained repute through an illustrious list of previous owners — also impacts the value. People don’t just buy works of art, they also buy into their history.

For art’s sake

The market is shaped by all kinds of human emotions such as fashion and competition making art a much less predictable commodity than others traded internationally. Prices can rapidly fluctuate. Traditionally, the most successful investors have also been those with a deeply held interest in acquiring art for its own sake. Buy what you love, buy the best that you can afford, keep it for several years and you will not go far wrong.

Artist Christoph Berlincourt is visiting from Switzerland for Art Dubai. Watch him work on gold to create the Palace décor.


Exclusively for Gulf News tabloid!, Shaikha Lateefa Bint Maktoum, founder of Tashkeel and an acclaimed visual artist, underscores the importance of art in today’s world.

“People have asked me many times, how did you begin your journey with art? This question is difficult to answer because looking back, every child is given a pen, a crayon, a piece of chalk or a stick to draw in the sand or snow. Regardless of where a person comes from, the beginning of the formation of self-expression is drawing, or singing or moving in a certain way to be able to communicate and this is before a person is capable to write words.

Art is a fundamental part of expression and of reaching people beyond the boundaries of written language. I make art because I have a need to make, like I have a need to breathe. Art to me can be visual, can be thought, or in some cases I write what I like to call ‘ramblings’, notes and words that reflect my inner dialogue. This is more what I do for myself to work out what is going on in my mind. When I make art, specifically photographs, it reaches people differently, especially my recent show New Chapter where I visually describe my journey into marriage and motherhood. I met people who related to the show on such a personal level, some from my culture and others who weren’t but could relate to what they saw and had genuine emotions as a reaction to the work.

With everything currently happening in the Middle East and internationally, art can be used as a tool to open a conversation about any subject matter, it’s all about how the subject is communicated through the work. It’s important for me to see artists meet artists from different cultures, it’s a way of understanding a culture beyond the surface of what is seen.

Art Fairs like Art Dubai are extremely important platforms where different galleries from all over the world show side by side in equal importance. It is an international meeting point where connections and contacts are there to be made, cross cultural conversations, discussions, maybe even disagreements happen, but it is all healthy for one’s growth. The more other cultures have places to meet, the more there is a chance to open the door of understanding.”


The eleventh edition of Art Dubai takes place from March 15-18, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

Public Days

  • Thursday March 16: 4-9.30pm
  • Friday March 17: 2-9.30pm
  • Saturday March 18: 12-6.30pm
  • Last entrance at thirty minutes before closing.

Ladies only viewing

  • Wednesday, March 15, 1-4pm

Ticket Options

  • Day ticket (valid one day): Dh80 on site
  • Permanent ticket (valid all public days): Dh120 on site
  • Please visit for special online ticket rates