Six of the best Art Galleries in Dubai
For those that think Dubai is just about shopping and showboating – think again. There is a real, and thriving, art market that continues to gain momentum each year. And it's drawing all kinds of international attention, with dedicated fairs such as Art Dubai putting the UAE on the map in terms of its cultural endeavors. However, art is not something to be consumed but once a year. Here are some of the best galleries to familiarise yourself with on a regular basis.
OK, so Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz isn't strictly a gallery – per se – but it's home to a collection of some of the best in Dubai, and all within a hop, skip and a jump of each other. Citing itself as a 'community' it is the closest thing to an underground art scene that Dubai has. Think alternative and up-and-coming as opposed to some of the more established names. That's not to say they don't draw in the big guns, though – Zaha Hadid recently had a show at the fabulous Leila Heller gallery. One of the best things about Alserkal Avenue is that many artists also have their studios here, and you can even pop in and watch them work on selected Saturdays. Make it a must-do.
The Dubai branch of the Opera Gallery family (they have premises everywhere from New York to Miami, London, Paris, Geneva and Seoul) is just as impressive as its capital counterparts. They regularly showcase some of the most expensive (we're talking multimillion Dirham) auctions in Dubai – with works from the likes of Botero, Chagall and Matisse currently on show. Granted, you may not be able to find the loose change for those kind of purchases down the back of the sofa, but you can make the most of their presence in DIFC and go and see them for free. Now that's what we call a steal.
The Empty Quarter
Also in DIFC (in case you couldn't tell, this is one of the main art hubs of Dubai – might have something to do with the wages of the people that work there...) you will find The Empty Quarter. Co-founded by Saudi Arabian Princess HRH Reem Al-Faisal and Emirati Safa Al-Hamed, it is the only fine art photography gallery in the city, and regularly showcases work from some of the world's greatest photographers, such as Steve McCurry, Bruno Barbey, Marc Riboud, and Al-Moutasim Al Maskery. If you or your mates are keen snappers, this is the place to geek out and learn a thing or two about lighting.
Another slick addition to DIFC's huge art offering is Artspace: a gallery that was founded in 2003, and is dedicated to promoting contemporary Middle Eastern art to the world. So dedicated, in fact, that in 2012 they opened a London branch to further bridge the cultural gap between east and west. Their most recent exhibition features the fascinating work of Syrian painter, Saad Yagan, who is widely regarded as a key member of the development of contemporary art in Syria. Go and take a stroll around Artspace one afternoon and immerse yourself in the modern creativity of the region you call home. It'll be worth your while.
Cuadro Fine Arts
CuadroFine Art gallery, founded in 2008, separate themselves from the other spaces dotted throughout DIFC by focussing more on developing existing talent in the region, than attracting stars from overseas. With a mantra of “exhibitions, education, residency and consultation” the gallery even offers studio space to artists within the UAE, as well as promotion of their subsequent work. It is this kind of passion about the community in which it sits, that makes Cuadro one of the most interesting galleries to visit in the city, as the work exhibited inside is there because of reasons more than financial value, it's about what it means to people living in the UAE today.
Located in Al Quoz, the Meem Gallery was founded in 2007 by Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Mishal Hamed Kanoo and Charles Pocock and is another champion of contemporary artists in and from the Middle East. With their most recent exhibition being a solo show by Texas-based, Iraqi artist Nazar Yahya, which explored “Andalusian-Arab heritage, the idea of history and how it can come to be re-examined” - thought provoking stuff, we're sure you'll agree. Like all good galleries, they also have a pretty good shop, though you're more like to find original art pieces costing a few thousand dollars, than a cheap postcard.