Pink Train by Modupeola Fadugba.

For the past decade, the Art Dubai has nurtured the creative conscience of the region.

Bolstering its portfolio of world class, investment worthy art, its non-commercial thought-leadership programme makes it one of the most extensive in the world of art and design fairs. Through education and commissioning local designers and artists, the fair has firmly established itself at the top of the leader board.

Whether you are an artist, an art collector or an enthusiast, Myrna Ayad’s selection is bound to lead you onto the soul-satisfying path of cultural revelation and a greater appreciation of the arts.


1. The Contemporary halls

Spread over two halls are 78 galleries from 42 countries that showcase contemporary art from around the world with new energies coming from Iceland, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kazakhstan. This is the platform to discover trends and take the pulse of today through young talents whose careers are launched at Art Dubai, and also established, recognised artists.

Jose untitled 2015 work.


2. Explore the Residents

Art Dubai invites 11 artists from nine countries to spend between four to eight weeks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to immerse themselves and engage with the landscape on social, cultural and artistic fronts. The fruits of their time in the UAE will be exhibited through their representative galleries in this novel section of the fair. It will be fascinating to see how this experience impacted their work that is shown at Art Dubai, but also for years to come.


3. Visit Modern

Nowhere else can one explore and engage with modernist art from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. This is the venue that showcases the work of 20th century masters operating primarily between the 1940s-1980s; and no one can narrate history or tell a story quite like modernists do. This year, Modern marks its largest edition to date with 16 galleries from 14 countries.

The Family by Abdelhadi Al Gazzar as part of ‘That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life’.


4. That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life

This seminal exhibition surveys five schools or groups, operating in five Arab cities across 50 years, and is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. More than 70 paintings have been sourced from public and private collections around the world that demonstrate the varying modernist movements in Baghdad, Cairo, Khartoum, Casablanca and Riyadh. The show is supported by the Misk Art Institute.


5. Have you heard of the Modern Symposium?

Now in its second edition, this series of talks delves into the lives and legacies of modernist artists from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and reflects on the content in the Modern hall. In the absence of literature and documentation on modern masters, the Symposium offers a glimpse into the practices and climate (economic, social and political) of the 1940s-1980s and is led by scholars, curators, experts and patrons alike.

Dance by Jennifer İpekel.


6. Global Art Forum

Titled I Am Not a Robot, the Forum takes on the theme of automation for its 12th iteration. Commissioned once again by Shumon Basar, who works alongside co-directors Noah Raford, chief operating officer and futurist-in-chief of the Dubai Future Foundation, and Marlies Wirth, curator of digital culture and design collection at the MAK, Vienna, sessions will delve into the implications that automation has on our lives, today and tomorrow.

LLC by Christopher Benton romances Satwa's bright lights.


7. Experience The Room

Each year, Art Dubai invites artists to submit proposals to take over The Room — an interactive, immersive space that features performances, gastronomy and installations and which is transformed in accordance to a theme selected by the artists. For 2018, the artist collective GCC turn the space into a TV set for their fictional programme, Good Morning GCC.

Manoucher Yektaei's 1959, still life with flowers.


8. Visit the 10th Abraaj Group Art Prize

Celebrating art from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, this is one of the most important prizes in the art world. Over the last decade, many of the winners have gone on to achieve greater success in the region and abroad. This year, we unveil Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s winning work alongside those of shortlisted artists Neil Beloufa, Ali Cherri and Basma Alsharif all working under the curatorship of Myriam Ben Salah.


9. Explore the World of Karim Noureldine

The Swiss-Egyptian artist takes over the Julius Baer lounge to create a never-seen-before, site-specific installation. The commission is composed of an abstract textile work that forms a metaphorical bridge between three civilizations and cultures — Switzerland, the Middle East and India. The featured textiles celebrate the wealth of handicraft and design indigenous to these regions.


10. The Precious Art of High Joaillerie

High art and high jewellery have a long standing relationship. And why not? They are both born from a passionate desire to express, and the refined artwork that goes into detailing fine jewellery is a fine art in its own right. This year, Piaget presents a dazzling new collection inspired by the beautiful Amalfi Coast, Sunlight Journey.

Dark Horse, 2017, by Soheila Shokhanvari.



Part of Art Dubai’s success rests in how it activates the entire Emirate into one creative being, buzzing with energy and events well beyond the fair’s own marquee. This is our selection of the most exciting shows on the side-lines of Art Dubai.

In 2013, Jeff Koons’ orange Balloon Dog smashed the record for any living artist when it sold for $58.4 million (Dh214.4 million) at auction and now you can dine in the presence of the artist’s multi-million dollar artworks at La Petite Maison. The fine-dining venue switches up its timeless Parisian vibe to make space for more of Koons’ quirky creatures and Eduardo Guelfenbein’s Abstract Paintings. (Ends March 24.)

Van Gogh Alive disrupts centuries old traditions of tiptoeing through unnervingly silent galleries and viewing paintings from afar. Step into the Master’s fantastical creative universe, quite literally, as this multi-media sensory explosion brings his most coveted works to life via a symphony of light, colour and sound. (Ends April 23, at d3.)

Satwa-based conceptual artist Christopher Benton’s works eschew typical story-telling. His latest, LLC (If We Don’t Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will) is a totem of stacked light boxes, starring the small businesses that make Satwa one of Dubai’s most vibrant — and now, in the light of its urbanisation, endangered — neighbourhoods. Set against the backdrop of the refurbished historicism of Al Fahidi Cultural District, the exhibition also interrogates the museumification of living history and the narrative sanitation that occurs when a neighbourhood becomes a tourist attraction. (Ends March 26, House 16, Al Fahidi Historical District.)


Don’t miss it!

Tickets to Art Dubai start at Dh60. For the full schedule, go to artdubai.ae.